My best friend Brandon has decided to become an entrepreneur.
I’ve watched as his idea has grown from a hobby in his kitchen, to the R&D stage that his product is currently in.
By default of being a close friend to Brandon, I’ve become, at times, his marketing consultant … whether I wanted the job or not. (I think every marketer can relate to this. We all have a family member or close friend that picks our brain for suggestions over a game of golf or at a dinner party.)
Recently, I became a new member of the MarketingExperiments team. In the week leading up to the first day at my new job (and if you’re interested, we’re still hiring), I decided to try to hit the ground running by taking one of the online courses MECLABS offers. Knowing that I needed to learn the basics of Internet marketing and optimization, I chose to start with the Landing Page Optimization course.
In the past, I have given Brandon marketing advice with a “swim at your own risk” caution attached because I am not a marketing guru or a weather-tested C-suite member with years of experience under my belt. I am a young marketer who still has a LOT to learn.
Today, I’ll share what I have learned about optimization for marketers like myself and for those entrepreneurs like Brandon who are braving the storms of the marketplace.
Learning to identify and express a value proposition effectively has given me an entirely new way of thinking about business and marketing.
What is a value proposition?
In the course, Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS, explains that value proposition is the primary reason why your ideal prospect should buy from you rather than your competitors. Value proposition has one of the greatest impacts on the probability of conversion as shown here in the MECLABS Conversion Sequence heuristic.
[Please note: For the purposes of the MarketingExperiments testing methodology, friction is defined as a psychological resistance to a given element in the sales or sign-up process. Anxiety is a psychological concern stimulated by a given element in the sales or sign-up process.]
Flint emphasizes that since your value proposition is the primary reason why your ideal prospect should buy from you rather than your competitors, you should also consider the following:
- A value proposition will require you to differentiate your offer from your competitors
- You may match a competitor on every dimension of value except one
- In at least one element of value you need to excel
- In this way, you become the best choice for your optimum customer
Flint also adds it is important to understand the clarity of the value proposition is a factor that you can control directly.
Develop a value proposition
1. A value proposition is not usually determined, it is discovered. It grows out of need. We must avoid a sales-driven approach to product development. You should instead develop products for the market.
This point speaks directly to offering something of actual value, and marketing that value truthfully.
Marginal products made under sales pressure and driven by hype won’t last long. Social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube will ensure that if your product is junk at sunrise, potential prospects will know about it before sunset.
2. You are answering this question: “Why should my ideal prospect buy from me instead of a competitor?”
This is where you make an important assessment of your product or service by comparing your dimensions of value against those of your competitors to discover which element(s) you offer that exceed your competitors’ offers.
If your offerings are identical to your competitors’ offerings, then people only buy from you out of random chance, or because they’re unaware of your competitors’ offerings.
3. Compare your answer with the claims of your competitors.
Knowing where the value in your offer stands also depends on knowing the dimensions of value that your competitors are offering.
4. Refine your value proposition until you can articulate it in a single, instantly credible sentence.
This point is one of the most difficult to grasp — especially with “instantly credible” thrown into the mix — but being specific can help.
For example, let’s use widgets. If I said that our company offered access to the greatest database of widget providers in Brazil, then there is not much credibility because that statement is impossible to prove.
If I were to say, instead, that our company offers access to the number one ranked database of widget providers according to a respected third-party organization, then I am being specific. My offer supports my claim instantly, thus my value proposition is instantly credible.
5. Test your value proposition.
All of the work you do to develop, discover, compare and clearly articulate your value proposition leads up to being ready for testing.
You must test your prospects’ behavior when presented with a value proposition, evaluate the results, refine your value prop, and test further.
“Do not speculate,” Flint said, “test.”
Express value proposition
Assuming you have conquered the discovery, development and refining of a value proposition, the next step is to express it effectively.
At first, there was confusion for this Internet marketer-writer hybrid as to how I could approach expressing value propositions effectively. I discovered that my problem was in the scope of my thinking. It was too narrow.
“One must think holistically about the communication of the value proposition,” Flint explains. “This involves three key elements.”
- Congruence — Your expression is congruent when every element of your page either states your value proposition or supports it. Congruence is expressed through your logos, price point, design features, images, colors, etc.
- Continuity — Make certain each step in the buying process is either stating or supporting your value proposition.
- Credibility — Ensure every statement of value is communicated in a way that is instantly credible.
Why should I buy from you?
Understanding these tools and using them effectively will help marketers and entrepreneurs alike to effectively answer the most important question that should never go unanswered.
The same question that my friend Brandon is working to answer at this very moment.
Why should I buy from you?