We make promises every day. We promise our landlord we’ll pay the rent at the end of the month. We promise our relatives we’ll visit soon. We promise our kids they can have ice cream if they eat their broccoli. We even promise ourselves a reward if we go to the gym. But have you ever thought about the promises a business makes to its clients or customers? That’s called a Value Proposition (VP) and it should be the foundation of a brand. Just as we expect our significant other to mow the lawn as they promised, we expect our favorite brands to deliver on their promises every day. If they don’t, we find another brand that will.

What is a Value Proposition?

Wikipedia defines a VP as “a promise of value to be delivered, communicated, and acknowledged. It is also a belief from the customer about how value will be delivered, experienced, and acquired.”

A VP sets a brand apart from the competition. It can persuade consumers to become customers by showing them how a product or service brings unique value to their lives. A VP outlines the opportunity or benefit a customer receives from a brand that they won’t find elsewhere.

It’s the “how” and the “why” connected to the “what” of a brand’s mission. In other words, a value proposition is a mission statement written from the customer’s perspective.

5 Steps to Creating a Value Proposition

If you are a business leader or a marketing professional, a well-written VP can be critical to your brand’s overall marketing strategy. You need the VP to create target audience personas and brand messaging guidelines. After all, if your brand’s promise does not resonate with your target market, neither will your product or service.

Because your VP is part of the foundation of your brand, the best time to write a VP is when you are building your brand or planning for the future. A VP takes thought, planning, and strategy. Here are five steps to creating a VP:

  1. Review your business goals, both long- and short-term. What is your strategic plan? What do you plan to accomplish in the next 5 years, 10 years, or 25 years? How will your product or service offerings grow or change? Are you planning to enter other sectors or markets? Any or all of these strategic avenues should be reflected in your final VP from the perspective of they will benefit your customers.
  2. Consider your brand. Your brand is your reputation. How do you want customers to perceive your business? If you are an already well-established business, this is an excellent time to learn exactly how your audience sees you by talking to your customers and getting useful feedback. Do you need to change or amend how your company is viewed? You can do this by concentrating your VP on a specific value or benefit.
  3. Think through who your customers or target personas are. You may have more than one. Are they the people you thought they were? Are you fulfilling the promises you want to fulfill for them? How are you adding value to their lives? If your audiences are very different, you may want to create a VP for each one.
  4. Review your mission, values, structures, and systems. Are you set up to meet your goals? This is a great time to do a SWOT analysis of your business to identify possible roadblocks to attaining your promises or potential differentiators to include in your benefits.
  5. Once you’ve reviewed your strategic plan and made decisions about who is most important to your future, you can start to craft your VP.

Tips for a Memorable Value Proposition

Remember, a VP is a clear and impactful statement of the benefits you bring to your customers. It’s the promises you make to win their business. Here are some tips:

  • Focus on the WHY (think Golden Circle by Simon Sinek). Why would your customers do business with you? Outline how your product or service solves a problem or provides a benefit.
  • Speak your customers’ language. Write the VPs from their point of view. Tailor your VP to their needs, views, sensitivities, and attitudes. Use active verbs and descriptive language that is inclusive and succinct.
  • Emphasize how your promise will be kept. Customers will not trust smoke and mirrors. Be as specific as possible. Outline not only what you will do but also what your customers will be able to do as a result.
  • Highlight how unique your products or services are compared to others like them. This communicates how your business is best equipped to champion your customers’ specific needs.
  • Most importantly, remember that your VP is a promise. It should be hopeful, optimistic, forward-thinking, and most of all, achievable.

Please note that a VP is not necessarily a tagline or slogan, although some can be used that way. Your VP should also be an internal rallying cry. It’s reflective of your business culture. It’s the reason why you and your employees come to work every day.

A Value Proposition Template

If this seems a little daunting, here’s a quick template to get you started. Again, this simple exercise may not work for everyone, but it will get you thinking. Write down the answers to these questions:

  1. What do you offer?
  2. Who is your audience?
  3. What value do you deliver?
  4. What makes you different?

Now, use the answers to write a sentence or two. For example, here’s my first draft VP for my business.

I (my company) create well-researched and actionable brand and content marketing strategies for B2B companies and agencies that meet their business goals.

Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Your VP will evolve with you. Take a look at your business. Are you engaging the customers with clear and compelling promises? If not, start now by creating dedicated Value Propositions.

As Aristotle said, “A promise made must be a promise kept.”

I am a writer. Writing is my creative outlet and my joy. I believe that words bind us together as humans and that the best stories remind us of our humanity. I specialize in telling brand stories that engage and inspire.

My favorite projects are when I get to help build a brand. Strategic branding is so important for any business. Discovering an organization’s “Why” is so satisfying.

My “Why” is making the world a better place. It’s why I worked for a nonprofit for 7 years before becoming a freelancer and volunteer as a member of the Columbus Museum of Art. My chihuahua Grandon may think differently. He thinks my “Why” is taking care of him. He’s not totally wrong. He definitely runs the household. When I am not writing, you’ll find the two of us walking in the park or just around our neighborhood.