How to Create a Strong Value Proposition for B2B

By Daniel Nilsson on April 23, 2016

7 seconds to catch the interest of the prospect

You have only 7 marginal seconds to make a first impression. Yes, you heard me! 7 seconds it is! And your Value proposition is the key to make sure you make an impression.

Even your competitors have 7 seconds. So you and your 7 competitors are fighting within this 7 seconds frame to catch someone’s attention.

But how do the super professionals do it? Are they equipped with some mystic powers and aura to influence their audience? Are they good at hypnotizing? Or are they simply good at influencing?

4 Value Propositions tools to get the message through

In this article, I present 4 powerful tools that will help you create a strong value proposition. If you’re into business, I am sure I don’t have to repeat and assert the importance of value propositions. It is something that automatically brings your customer into focus and allows you to propose solutions to their problem from their own perspective.

focus on the customer value proposition

After discussing the 4 tools, we will go on to discuss what a value proposition consists of and how we can create one.

I have created this article based on my SlideShare presentation. I have used my personal experience of creating value propositions for a myriad of companies, reviews of the world’s most amazing marketing experts, and Gartner reports to this presentation. The purpose here is to share the conclusions of my research with you and help you create strong B2B value propositions.

But before we take a leap of faith, let’s discuss some basics so as to make sure both of us, you and I, are on the same plane.

 

What a Value Proposition is NOT

Let’s break some myths and misconceptions.

It is not a slogan

Value propositionYes, it is not what L’Oréal says: Because we’re worth it. Or what MasterCard says: There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.

Some people even equate it with an elevator speech which is a very general statement of a couple of lines expressing your target market and how you help them.

It is not a glowing description

Value proposition

To be frank, it means a value proposition is not bragging.

We’ve got the best pizzas in the world. That doesn’t mean anything to your customers. What they want is data and result and a more humane way to convey the message without sounding like a superstar.

It is not about information

Value propositionWe sell medical equipment. So what?

A value proposition is not about loads of sentences written describing the legacy of your company or its services and products.

 

What a Value Proposition is

Now we come back to the million dollar question. What is a value proposition?

And here’s how I define it:

A value proposition is a clear statement about the outcomes that an individual or an organization can realize from using your product, service or solution.

value proposition is about outcomeThe keyword here is outcomes. Because that’s the thing your customers are most concerned with.

We provide air conditioners. So what? There are scores of companies to choose from.

We provide air conditioners that are cheap and is easy on your electricity bills. Mmmmm….Now, that’s something and would surely get the attention of your prospect within 7 seconds.

But even then, creating value propositions is not easy…unless you have the right tools. Here are 4 tools used by even the Fortune 500s that will help you create powerful value propositions.

 

4 tools

Tool #1: The Value Proposition Canvas from Strategyzer

Value Proposition Designer tool 1

Though looks simple at first look, The Value Proposition Canvas has been designed after extensive research.

It has two parts: a value proposition and a customer segment. What the canvas tries to do is map the customer gains, pain points, and customer jobs(s) of a customer segment on gain creators, pain relievers, and products/services related to a value proposition respectively. The tool is inspired by theories created by Clayton M. Christensen, HBS Professor & Disruptive Innovation Expert and one of the most influential business theorists in the world.

The tool helps you to get a complete picture of how a particular customer segment relates to a value proposition. And consequently, take better decisions.

You can access and download this canvas by clicking here.

I have also written an article How to create customer profiles / buyer personas for B2B Sales that in more detail explains how to use the tool. Click HERE to read the article.

Below video give you a quick overview of the tool.

Download Value Proposition Design as a beautiful presentation

I have created a beautiful presentation you can use at meetings and share with colleagues. It is free to download.

 

Tool #2: Value Proposition comparison with competitors

value proposition tool 2

It’s a good thing to know what your value proposition is. And it is still better to know how it competes against the value proposition of your leading competitors. This template helps you assess your offerings against that of your competitors.

You can download this template by clicking here.

This works well when you understand what are the value propositions of your competitors and they are somewhat, if not almost, similar to yours.

In the top row, mention the name of your competitors, while in the first column of the sheet, mention each of the value proposition. Now rate them on a scale of four: 4 being sophisticated while 1 means minimal. 0 means that value proposition is absent in a company. You can also use a circular graphic of 4-quarters as shown in the above image.

 

Tool #3: Value Proposition Builder™ from Futurecurve

value proposition design

This tool, a trademark of Futurecurve, is developed by thorough research and data analysis. Futurecurve has published a book, Creating and Delivering Your Value Proposition: Managing Customer Experience for Profit, on how to use this framework which you can buy at Amazon. You can also download an extract of the eBook by clicking here.

So, how does it work?

It is basically a six-step iterative process. Iterative here is really important because value proposition has to be changed according to the needs and demands of your audience. What you are offering right now might not be relevant to your target audience after five or ten years.

  1. The first step is to identify the market segment you are targeting. It is to these people or clients ONLY to whom you will deliver value.
  2. Define value experience that your target audience will reap from your organization. Categorize them into good, bad, and ugly and try to discover the experiential outcome that will make your audience go “Wow!”
  3. Define a mix of offerings that will satisfy the needs of your target market.
  4. Now assess the benefits of your offerings. Most people here commit the mistake of equating features with benefits. Once you know the benefits, you can eliminate the cost component from the benefit and get the true value.

Value = Benefits – Cost

  1. Work out how the value provides differentiation and alternatives for your organization
  2. Now back it all up with testing and measurable proof.

 

Tool #4: The Value Promise Story from Content Bridge

value proposition Promise-Story

This one comes from Gordana Stik, B2B technology marketer. You can access this tool here.

This framework is a 10-step process divided into two parts: The Hook and The How. The specialty of this tool is to help you create a message flow based on your value proposition. That is, how you can move from understanding your customer needs to fulfill those needs through your products or services.

 

What does a value proposition consist of

Now that we have seen the 4 most powerful tools available to create a value proposition, we will go on to create one.

#1. Headline

Value propositionDavid Ogilvy, The Father of Advertising, once said, “Write great headlines and you’ll have successfully invested 80% of your money.

That also goes for the headlines in your value proposition. It has to be a single short sentence. The purpose of the headline is to grab the attention of your readers. It’s about making your customer say, “Hey! You got my attention. [Please] tell me more!” That please there is really important.

How to create a brilliant headline

The secret to writing a brilliant headline is to write many. Imagine we need to write a headline for a company selling shoes. Start by creating a list like I have done below. Then create many headlines. After you have done 5-10 different ones go through your list and pick the one that is best.

  • H1: High-quality shoes
  • H2: These shoes will make you feel free
  • H3: Wear all day and smell great
  • H4: ……..

 

#2. Sub-headline

Sub-headline is similar to the headline in the sense that its purpose is to make the reader want to read the next lines. Your sub-headline must consist of 2-3 sentences—an explanation of what you offer, for whom, and why and how it will useful to you.

 

#3. Three bullet-points

These three points will enlist the benefits and/or features of your products or services. However, the best practice is always focusing on the benefits rather than the features.

 

#4. Visual

visual value propositionVisuals are no less important than the text in your headline and sub-headline. It can communicate way faster to the viewer and if planned well, can convey difficult messages very plainly.

You can show your product, the hero shot, or even an image reinforcing the overall idea of the value proposition. You can also use some infographic which makes it easier to read the text.

 

Examples

Here are a few examples from some of the businesses who have nailed the art writing value proposition.

 

1. Mindset

Example value proposition mindset

Started with a problem statement and translated it into a story with the plot based in an uncomfortable truth about the business. Presented a good solution and supported it with arguments. The visual has also played a great role throughout the value proposition.

 

2. Campaign Monitor

Example value proposition campaign monitor

The power of value proposition of Campaign Monitor lies in its simplicity and clarity. It states simply what it is and for whom. There’s a simple lead paragraph outlining key features accentuated with a relevant image.

 

3. Stripe

example value proposition stripe

Stripe says it all with its visuals. The debit card like image automatically conveys it is about digital cash. Then the title starts with Payment. And suddenly you’re interested. Its sub-headline is also oriented towards specific benefits. And just below it all, there’s a smooth shift into benefits and features.

 

4. Geekdom

Example value proposition geekdom

The very headline asks the question which users want to know. “What is it I am looking it?” And the website replies back with “What is Geekdom?” It is followed by a clear statement about what it is and for whom. The image is equally relevant to the message Geekdom wants to convey.

 

5. Evernote

Example value proposition evernote

The layout seems different than those we saw earlier but they have a clear-cut message. Started with the headline that’s really appealing. Even though ‘Remember Everything’ is a good slogan, it needs specific sub-headline to improve clarity.

However, they did well by after that by mentioning the problem they are solving. They have also used good imagery to complement the message.

 

6. Mentice

Example mentice value proposition

This is one of the most difficult value propositions I ever created. Why?

Mentice operates in a regulated healthcare environment selling endovascular simulators to hospitals, training centers, and medical device industry. The trickier part is that target customers have different value propositions. And you have only one page to capture their attention. To be more specific, you have just one sentence.

The message was more subtle and cater to a targeted audience: to achieve excellence and save lives. Even if Mentice is doing a wide variety of things and in different ways, the message is same across all operations.

I wrote an article on the entire process to create this value proposition. Click HERE to read the article.

 

Conclusion

One take away that I would want you to focus on is to NEVER forget that the value proposition has to be customer-focused and not focused on you. If you’re curious and want to learn more, you would read more.

I have also one other way to help you. I am offering a course of Udemy.com on How to create a strong value proposition for B2B. You can use the coupon valueproposition to get a discount of 20% on the course.

Discount value proposition course

If you have any questions or queries regarding this article, please feel free to comment below. I would love to hear your feedback.

 

Presentation How to Create a Strong Value Proposition for B2B

This article is based on my extremely popular SlideShare presentation for how to create a strong value proposition for B2B. Check it out below.

 


Also published on Medium.