How to create a value proposition

Monday, October 5, 2020

The value proposition takes your mission statement one step further, it really defines how your product adds value. It should be concise and easily remembered, it is a good idea to have a tagline and then a more detailed sentence on your value proposition. It is how your product shows up and is understood if working well. A good value proposition should articulate:

  • How your product or service solves/improves user problems
  • The benefits for the user
  • What makes your product unique
  • Why people should choose your product or service over a competitor

Where to begin

I usually run a workshop with the entire team as you need everyone to understand and agree on how you add value to your target users' lives. If you are starting out with a new idea then just run through these exercises yourself.

Understand your users

This a recurring theme, before you can fully understand the value you need to have spoken to your target customers and know their pain points very well. This is partly a given otherwise what is your business or product trying to do? I would recommend making sure you have conducted 5 user interviews and created empathy maps with needs statements. You don’t need to have fully fleshed out personas yet as your value prop is often the starting point of a new idea.

If running a workshop share your user insights and remind the team who you are designing for and what their needs are.

Understand your business

Next, you need to look at what your actual business outcomes are (if known)and if this is part of a wider set of products or services then how they all fit together. You might for example have other value propositions to ladder from.

A good way to visualize what your business is about is to create a mindmap with all the information as a kind of brain dump. You might write about clients, services, pain points anything else that you think is relevant. You can see the one I created for my consultancy UserXD below.

UserXD mind map

Look at competitor examples

To get an idea of how to structure a good value proposition you should look at some well-known companies and see how they use theirs. Some examples of value propositions are:

  1. Uber — The Smartest Way to Get Around. …
  2. Apple iPhone — The Experience IS the Product. …
  3. Unbounce — A/B Testing Without Tech Headaches. …
  4. Slack — Be More Productive at Work with Less Effort. …
  5. Digit — Save Money Without Thinking About It. …
  6. LessAccounting — Bookkeeping, Without the Hassle.

You can see more examples here https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/value-proposition-examples

Understand what makes you unique

What sets you apart from the competition? How is your offer better than anyone else's? This is the core of your value and needs to be fully understood. People should be able to see your value proposition or your branding and understand who you are.

To help find out what makes you unique run another ideation session with your team, get them to write down how you are different from your top competitors, what are you doing better, differently or what are you offering that might be completely brand new?

What makes us unique exercise

Time 10–20 mins

Step 1(5 mins): Each person in the team is to write their views and ideas on post-it notes explaining why your business, service, or product is unique.

Step 2 (2 mins per person): Team members then present each idea and talk about it to the group.

Step 3: Theme the common ideas into groups.

What must be true for success?

Another exercise I like to run is to ask the team, for our business, service, or product to be successful, what must be true for our customers? If you have a team take 3–5 mins to write down ideas on post-it notes and theme the answers, this will give you some clear guidance on how you are going to deliver value for your users and it makes you really dig deep into how you intend to do that

Use the value proposition canvas

Once you have worked out who your users are, what is critical for success, and what makes your service unique you can then tie it all together by using the jobs to be done value proposition canvas.

Using the canvas helps you pull out your user's pains and needs and then align them to your business values, you can learn more about the canvas and how to use it here. I usually get the team to use a digital whiteboard like Miro to place post-it notes onto the canvas.

Value prop canvas

Pulling it all together

Now you have a clear understanding of your users, their pain points, and how your product or service solves them you can formulate a value prop. I have found that pulling together your key benefits, sound bites and personas into one worksheet really helps with the final step. You can use the template below to pull it all together.

Another great way to visualize is to imagine your headline on a billboard and your value prop on your website, does it articulate your business and it’s value clearly? I use the template below to write out a value proposition and see it in context. You can see in the example below I have used Stripe's value proposition to show how it can work in both scenarios.

Try an elevator pitch

You may of heard of the elevator pitch, it is based on you being able to succinctly explain what your business does and what value it provides in the time it takes the elevator to reach its desired floor.

There is a simple framework you can apply to test out what you now know about your business or product. Use the following:

For — Primary user group

Who — have a key need


is a — Primary description

that is — brand quality

unlike — primary competitor

PRODUCT NAME is — Unique Selling Point

Test it out

Once you have it written out it is now time to test it and get feedback from your market. A series of customer feedback sessions should help you understand how your users respond. You will also be using it in your marketing material and website so no better test than to see if your converting on your business offer or product.

You should have a strong framework of user insights and team expertise to understand your business value proposition and clearly articulate it. Don’t stress if you take a few attempts, there is no exact science and it is challenging to create and use. By working through the steps outlined you should have a solid foundation that your value proposition is built on and if not then you know where you have gaps that need further work and research.

If you need help feel free to reach out to UserXD where we can help facilitate a workshop and get you a clearly defined value proposition for your product or business.

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Monday, October 5, 2020




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