Value Proposition: How your peers find the most effective value prop


At MECLABS, we’ve conducted a lot of research on value propositions. We found this element to be so essential to successful marketing, we included it in our Conversion Sequence, which our researchers use during their optimization research.

Your value proposition is the primary reason a prospect should buy from you. And since it is such a vital building block to successful marketing, you would think every professional marketer would have this down cold. But from past analysis and audience interaction, many are entirely missing the boat on what their “primary reason” should be.

In fairness, once you’ve taken a sip of your company’s Kool Aid, it’s very hard to get truly discover what your value prop should be. So, in today’s free Web clinic at 4 p.m. EST – Do You Have the Right Value Proposition? How to test, measure, and integrate your Value Proposition online – Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, will share our value proposition discoveries to help you nail this crucial element of your marketing programs.

But first, we turned to your marketing peers and ask them how they find the most effective value proposition. Here are a few of our favorite nuggets of wisdom…

Product or brand?

The first thing you need to determine when deciding on your most effect value proposition is whether you are selling a “product” or a “brand.” Let me explain.


If a prospect is looking for a product, this is typically a product or service that either they have not bought before or in cases where yours is one whose feature set is much greater than one they have purchased before.

In this case, the value proposition must first sell the visitor on why they should buy this type of product or service. Once they are convinced that they need this type of product or service, they must then be sold on why to buy it from you.

When you’re selling a prospect on a product, you typically highlight benefits of owning the product, namely what’s in it for them to buy your product or service. If they already buy something similar and you’re trying to get them to upgrade to your product or service, focus on additional benefits they’ll receive once they have upgraded.

Remember that when selling a product (as opposed to a brand), you’re not just in competition with your competitors. You’re also in competition with them doing nothing at all, in many cases. After all, if they have found a way to do what they need to without your product or with a lesser version of your product, you must first overcome the resistance to do nothing at all. Time-sensitive promotions may help here, which not only give prospects a reason to act, but to act NOW.


If most of your prospects are currently buying something similar to your product or service, you’re selling the brand, since they’re probably already convinced that they need this type of product or service (or they wouldn’t be buying it now). Mostly, they just need to know why to buy it from you.

When selling a brand, you want to focus on competitive differences between your product or service and competing options. Focus on benefits, providing examples of how their lives will be better with your product than without it. You may want to identify pain points they now suffer with that your product or service will alleviate. Include both logical and emotional reasons to act now.

When selling a brand, as with selling a product, you also often have to compete with the option to do nothing. For example, if I host a web site on one ISP, it may be a lot of work to move to a new one. As a result, it may take far more to get me to switch providers than it took to get me initially to sign up for the ISP I have. Here, time-based incentives may work well, creating a “ticking clock” scenario that prods a prospect to act now.

You may want to offer incentives for a prospect to switch from a key competitor, such as waiving start-up fees, sweetening the pot with a discount, or giving the first month of a subscription-based service free.


When seeking your most effective value proposition, it’s important to understand each of the major demographics to which you’re selling. Put yourself in the shoes of your prospects. Feel their pain points and imagine what it will take to get them to take action, whether that is to make a purchase, provide personal information in a Web form, or even to take a micro-action, such as clicking on a link.

Gather all the ideas you can and refine them as much as possible, but when it comes right down to it, you’ll have to test and let your customers decide through their measurable actions the messaging to which they respond best.

The most skilled testers I have encountered will accurately predict the winning experience in a given test at most 75% of the time. Even if you’re one of these experts, you still owe it to yourself and to your business to test your assumptions. You can learn some amazing things about your audience that you might never have discovered without testing.

Disclaimer: My views are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer, Adobe Systems Inc.

–        Steve Myers, Optimization Consultant, Adobe Systems

Value, Fascination, Authenticity

There are three key factors to optimizing your value proposition.

Value Factor

Explore what products or services people buy – not necessarily from you, but from companies within your industry. Take each item and rate how well your company delivers (value, price, functionality, etc.). Prioritize your best, and most popular products/services. Fix (or kill) what is of little value. Enhance the good stuff.

Fascination Factor

Explore exactly why people buy from you. Assuming it’s NOT price, (if it is, don’t bother with any of this) dial up the mystique, or prestige, or trust, etc. to become irresistible.

Authenticity Factor

Learn how to communicate with your audiences so you have two-way dialogue. Don’t SELL them. TALK to them. They will tell you the value proposition that is most appealing.

–        Rob Dalton, President, RocketFuel Marketing Mentors

Find the intersection

Your value proposition lies at the intersection of unmet market needs, company core competencies and currently unclaimed positions.

This is found through market research (customers, potential customers, industry experts, employees), an honest assessment of operational capabilities, and competitive analysis. Therein lies your unique position.

The next step is to craft a compelling, customer-centric message. Tweak it and test it.

– Kristin Tedesco, Marketing Consultant, Next Lifescience

And one of my favorite quotes I’ve come across about value proposition…

“Strategy is based on a differentiated customer value proposition. Satisfying customers is the source of sustainable value creation.”

– “Strategy Maps” by Robert Kaplan and David Norton

Related Resources

Do You Have the Right Value Proposition? How to test, measure, and integrate your Value Proposition online – Today’s Web clinic 4-5pm

Optimization Summit 2011 – June 1 -3

How to Test Your Value Proposition Using a PPC Ad

Powerful Value Propositions: How to Optimize this Critical Marketing Element – and Lift Your Results

Value Prop: Is there true value in your marketing proposition?

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  1. Mihir says

    Great post Daniel 🙂 I really liked the idea by Steve. I think few website try their best in highlighting their UVP, but they forget to differentiate the UVP with respect to selling product or brand.

  2. Robin Greif says

    Hi, I missed the Webinar on the 9th. Can I get a recorded version?

    Thank you.


    1. Daniel Burstein says

      We will be releasing the Web clinic replay shortly. To be notified when it is available, you can sign up for free updates about our optimization research.

  3. Andy says

    Hello Daniel,

    I enjoy reading all the articles and blog posts you write here. They are very helpful in pointing more efficient and more effective perspectives that marketers should consider when doing their job.

    I have encountered a problem and thought he might be the person who can help me out.
    You see, I am marketing for a precious metal trading company in China (marketmaker like forex).

    Three problems:
    1. 90% of our clients will lose money and bail out within four months, because like any other stock and exchange markets, it’s a inherent gambling industry that can not be public promoted as such. So people who are in for the ROI will all be disappointed.

    2. Most market makers in this type of industry will focus on “advanced technology” of their trading platform. However, our company has no control over the main product (the trading software is designed and set by the government body), which is very poorly done compare to MT4 and other softwares that forex traders use. And half of our customer support cases are complaints about the software, and the other half are complaints about loosing their money.

    3. We are but one of the 100 members of the Precious metal exchange programme, meaning that in terms of feature and benefits, there are 99 other competitors whose benefits and features are no different then ours.

    How to form a stronger proposition in such case?

    1. Daniel Burstein says

      I hope this doesn’t sound overly critical, but I don’t think marketing is your problem. I think that the stronger proposition must reside in the product itself, not in the marketing of your product. You must ensure there is true value in your marketing proposition.

      I realize this may not be the news you want to hear, but I hope it helps.

      Thanks for reading,

  4. Andy says

    @Daniel Burstein
    Hello Daniel, thanks for your reply and advise. That’s exactly why I am having problems with this. Even though our company is a legitimate and legal exchange company, it is also for this reason that we are not suited to those over-promising-show-you-the-ROI type of marketing done by other non-legal exchange and forex programme.

    Moreover, people with the money to invest often do not want to handle the exchange by themselves, as they have no time to analyze the charts and figures, they want someone who handle their money and account for them, which is a service we don’t provide since we are a non-advisory exchange platform. This lack of service means at least 20-40% of prospective clients will be lost to us.

    With those said, our offline salesforce has been able to dominate the Chinese market and served a total of 130,000 clients(minimum investment is 4,000 USD). With those said, if we want to create an online lead generation campaign that is legit and effective, creating a strong value proposition and offer is extremely important. I will continue to search for solutions to this, and let you know if I have any success. If you come up with any other insights or advice, it would be much appreciated.

    Thanks for your attention. Have a great day~

    1. Daniel Burstein says

      It sounds like there may be value in your offline salesforce, if they are truly serving customers where others can’t. I don’t enough about your company to say anything definitively, but if that is the case, your challenge is then to clearly express that value in an online environment.

      I know I’ve shared this MarketingSherpa case study here on the blog before, but it might help start to give you some ideas. A big part of this company’s value proposition was it’s staff, and this case study shows how they expressed that value online — Email Marketing: Short ‘staff selection’ posts become most-clicked content, increase offline sales 10%

  5. Bharat says

    It really matters as you said whether its a “Product” or “Brand” but isn’t both important ? I feel personally a business needs to think about the overall improvement in all aspects of the business. Whether its pre-sale service or after sale services.

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