Your company’s value proposition is a key to communicating your competitive advantage. A value proposition clearly defines your offerings and differentiates your company from competitors.
As marketing shifts to digital spaces with each passing year, marketers must communicate their value propositions quickly and clearly to capture customer attention.
So, let’s explore exactly why value propositions are so important, how to write your own, and how to evaluate your performance.
What is a value proposition?
In marketing, a value proposition is a clear, concise statement summarizing what goods or services a company offers, and highlighting the value that the company delivers to customers.
A value proposition may highlight the quality of a product, a unique experience that the company offers to customers, or may evoke an emotion (such as luxury).
Why are value propositions important?
Value propositions are important to marketers because they help customers quickly and clearly understand what your company offers and what differentiates your company from others in the market. This is especially important when customer attention is at a premium, especially on digital platforms. A customer who lands on your site through a paid digital ad or organic search may not have time to read a detailed page about your company. Communicating your value proposition in a few short sentences helps the customer understand your company and can help drive conversions.
Why is customer attention so valuable?
In the digital age, customer attention is a valuable commodity. At any time, many different messages and media compete for your customer’s attention. In a digital media landscape saturated with information and targeted ads catching and retaining your customer’s attention can be a challenge. For example, if your customer is browsing for your product on a mobile phone browser, they may not only see search results or your product – they may see dozens of other products listed on the search results page. Those organic search results may compete with paid ads for related products. While browsing, they may be watching or listening to other media that could distract from their search. This is just one example of how customer attention is split between many competing messages and priorities, and why customer attention is so vital.
The 10-Second Rule of Customer Attention
Since customer attention is at a premium, you may wonder how long you have to grab your customer’s attention with a marketing message. The answer is just 10 seconds. User experience data and market research conducted by the Neilson Normal Group have demonstrated that companies have a maximum of 10 seconds to grab a customer’s attention. That time may vary depending on the audience you are capturing and the demands on their attention at the time that they engage with your message. A potential new customer who is browsing Google search pages may have different demands on their attention than a current customer who is opening an email from your company or passing your booth at a trade show.
Customer Attention and Website Experience
When you are communicating your value proposition on digital marketing channels, technical factors such as page load time can increase bounce rates. That makes it less likely that your customers will see and respond to your message. This is especially important for mobile visits. Research has found that website conversion rates drop 4.42% with each passing second of page load time between 0 and 5 seconds. This is more extreme for users engaging on mobile devices. Google Consumer Insights research has found that 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Ensuring that technical aspects of your website, such as page load time, are performing well can help ensure that your customers see your value proposition at all. Furthermore, prospective customers may be landing on pages where you don’t expect them to land. Due to user search behavior, companies cannot rely on a website homepage as the main place to communicate their proposition. Use analytics tools to look at your company’s top website landing pages. Then, use the steps below to optimize each page for your value proposition.
How to write a great value proposition for your website
How do you know if your messaging is strong? You can use the 10 second test for evaluating value proposition. Look at your website, social media, paid advertisements, or other marketing materials. In less than 10 seconds, those marketing materials should communicate these 3 messages:
- Who you are: Clearly express who your company is. Your logo and company name should be prominent and easy to read. This may seem obvious, but it’s not always implemented.
- What you do: Don’t just indicate what you produce (i.e., “we design and produce quality [fill in the blank] products”) or offer (i.e., “we offer professional development coaching”). Identify the primary customer pain points or market problems you solve. Hit on the issue that keeps your prospects up at night. Generally, you should clearly demonstrate how your company will help them overcome a critical obstacle or reach a key business goal.
- Who you serve: Clearly define who you serve so that prospective customers can quickly identify themselves as someone you or your product supports. This can be based on a range of parameters, such as industry, size or type of business, role or title, or other defining and relatable details.
If your prospects understand who you are, what you do, and who you serve, they can make an informed decision about whether to learn more about your business or move on. If they decide to move on, so be it. What’s important is that their decision is based on an accurate understanding of the value you offer.
What are the benefits of having a clear value proposition?
Having a clear value proposition has clear benefits for any company.
- Immediate engagement. Capturing customers’ attention with a strong value proposition makes them more likely to engage further with your content before moving on to something else.
- Clear differentiation. In any messaging, your company should seek to distinguish your brand from competitors by highlighting how your company addresses your audience’s problems.
- Efficient communication. Being clear and concise ensures that the most important information is conveyed to the customer first. This can help reduce bounce rates or confused responses from your customers.
- Improve conversion rates. This is particularly important on digital channels. When website visitors quickly understand who you are, what you do, and how you can help them, they are more likely to follow calls to action and proceed further through the customer journey.
- Increase retention. This doesn’t just refer to customer retention. When information is clear, compelling, and memorable, you increase the chances that the customer will remember that information. This can lead to future customer interactions.
- Brand reinforcement. When your value proposition is communicated clearly across different platforms, this can reinforce your brand identity and build recognition and trust among your target audience.
What are the risks of having an unclear value proposition?
On the other hand, having an unclear value proposition (or no value proposition at all) can put your business at risk.
- Customer confusion. Without a clear value proposition, customers may not see or understand how your product solves their problems or addresses their needs. This can create confusion and lead to disinterest and abandonment.
- Decreased conversions. Confused customers are less likely to take key calls to action and are less likely to ultimately become paying customers.
- Wasted marketing resources. Without a clear and effective message, marketing campaigns can fall flat. That can translate to lost work hours, effort, and ad spend.
- Inefficient sales process. If customers are confused by unclear or inconsistent brand messaging, sales teams may struggle to communicate your company’s offerings. If a customer is confused, or worse – frustrated, that could lead to lost sales.
- Reduced customer loyalty. Unclear messaging not only impacts prospective customers. It can harm existing customers, too. Your current customers may not understand the full scope of your products or services. Therefore, they may miss out on offers that could help them. These unfulfilled needs can translate to reduced loyalty and customer retention over time.
- Competitive disadvantage. Ultimately, all these factors over time can lead to a competitive disadvantage. Competitors with clearer messaging can capture customers who your company may have been able to serve had the value proposition been clearer.
What are the top 3 mistakes businesses make when writing a value proposition?
We know that companies must communicate their value proposition in 10 seconds or less. Here are three common pitfalls to writing an effective value proposition statement:
- The primary message is not concise. Keep your messaging simple and easy to read. The primary message should be the headline of your value proposition. It should grab your customer’s attention, ideally in 7 words or less.
- The primary message is unclear. Your primary message must be simple and easy for your target audience to understand. A primary message that is too vague or that includes too much detail can make your audience misunderstand or misinterpret your primary message. This can happen when the desire to be creative supersedes the clarity of the writing.
- The primary message is buried. Even if you’ve clearly and concisely captured your primary message, your customer won’t see it if it is buried on the page. Your audience doesn’t have time to read through paragraphs of copy. Make your primary message the first thing they see.
How can you retain customer attention after you communicate your value proposition?
Once your content passes the 10-second test, you’ve likely earned about another 20 seconds of your prospective customer’s attention, according to the Neilson Norman Group. Those 20 seconds are critical. Explain what makes your company uniquely qualified to address the prospect’s critical problem or help them reach their key goal. To do this, you need to understand their pervasive problems.
By centering your message around how your company can solve those problems, your customer can understand what differentiates you and how you will help them reach their goals.