Learn how to create a value proposition and what a great value proposition looks like.
- At the center of your product marketing is your value proposition. It's a short, distinct statement that outlines exactly why a customer should buy your product. It should be something that can live as a headline with a supporting sentence or a few bullet points. It should be front and center in your messaging and be the foundation by which you build all of your marketing around. Now a value proposition is not a jargon filled statement nor is it your slogan. It must be simple, clear and easy for someone to understand in five seconds.
The less known your product is the better the value proposition you need. When Uber launched it stuck to this value proposition. The smartest way to get around. One tap and a car comes directly to you. Your driver knows exactly where to go and payment is completely cashless. Now it's tempting to create a value proposition that lists the key differentiators of your product but this isn't the right approach. You want to sell the result or the experience of using the product not just what features get you to the result.
You're telling a story and focusing on the outcomes and in a competitive market you're attacking pain points of the existing solutions. With Uber, they're calling out everything people hate about traditional taxis. But their main headline isn't Uber, the on demand taxi service. It's telling you that your current way of getting around is dumb and the outcome of Uber is that you've picked the smart way. Stewart Butterfield, the co-founder of Slack, also has a wonderful approach to this idea.
He said that Slack's value proposition isn't being the most user friendly team chat system or being the highest quality or even having the best customer service because people aren't buying that. Slack entered a market where consumers weren't even aware they needed Slack. So they opted to sell the outcomes. They say things like 75% less email or all your team communication instantly searchable. Available wherever you go. Again, you're selling the outcome.
The product is just how the consumer gets to that outcome. Stewart shares another great example in his essay on medium titled We Don't Sell Saddles Here. To paraphrase he suggests we consider the hypothetical ACME Saddle Company. They could just sell saddles. And if so they'd probably be selling on the basis of things like the quality of the leather they use or the range of styles, or say durability. Or they could sell horseback riding. Being successful at selling horseback riding means they grow the market for their product while giving the perfect context for talking about their saddles.
It lets them think big and potentially be big. As you sit down to develop your value proposition determine not how your product will be better than the others in the market but how your outcome is better. Write this value proposition down. Make sure it's distributed to everyone in the company and reflect on it every time you produce any new marketing collateral.
- What is product marketing?
- Product managers vs. product marketing managers
- Product marketing throughout the product lifecycle
- Product market fit
- Creating a value proposition
- Defining the target customer
- Messaging best practices
- Conducting competitive research