Unique Value Proposition
The unique value proposition (UVP) of a company should be exactly what it sounds like. The first thing the public sees and learns about your brand.
These short, but effective statements will guide both your customers and your team to understand the core values of your company. The benefits of having a highly refined UVP go beyond sales, and become something that drives an organization to future success.
Not that these phrases don’t have lengthier definitions, but this post is to help you figure out your unique value and convey it as a proposition.
Another post goes over brand positioning (i.e. Moore’s Positioning), essentially, whittling down your unique value proposition into one memorable dynamite statement.
But a unique value proposition does have to convey something powerful in a short amount of time.
The clever genius of each of them is that they don’t actually sell the products directly. They sell action, better quality of life, magic/nostalgia/adventure, and refreshing feelings (respectively).
The “textbook” definition of our term in question is:
Unique Value Proposition (also called Unique Selling Proposition): The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition. (Source)
Frankly, we’re not sure it’s good enough. If you take a look at the real life examples we will provide and the definition, something is missing — the consumer!
If you’re trying to sell something, that means that someone has to be buying. That’s exactly what Walmart, Disney and the rest of the big companies know. They all make revenue from things like cheap generic products and high-priced admission tickets.
But they sell things like value (Walmart) and magic (Disney). Making your potential clients a key element of your UVP.
Now, let’s get into the steps for creating yours.
“Your customers are the judge, jury, and executioner of your value proposition. They will be merciless if you don’t find fit!” — Alexander Osterwalder
Step One: List Off ALL of the Benefits/Functions of Your Product
You know your product(s) best and it’s time to list it all out. Get it all on the table.
You won’t necessarily convey everything to the market. In fact, you’re likely not going to show many of these positives at all.
Picture a beautiful sculpture.
It all starts with a bulk product. A lump of clay, a block of wood, or some other medium that will be taken from and tweaked until only the intended result remains. All of your benefits may be the starting point, but there is a work of art that lies beneath that will hit the eyes of your prospects in a way that helps you get them to buy.
To be honest, there isn’t much we can teach you here. That said there is a warning.
Warning: Make sure that you don’t list any of your features as more or less important in this phase. It’s your customer base that should determine which parts of your offerings they like best.
Once your personal list is complete, include the team to get a large all-encompassing list, then proceed.
Step Two: Consider Your Buyers
As a B2B company, the primary factor in understanding your buyers is to know which companies are likely to become clients. Next, you’ll need to know who it is that makes the decision within those companies.
There are two things you’ll need to look at to get familiar with your buyers.
- Firmographics: These are things that help you identify the right company to convey your unique value. Things like: industry, company size, revenue, geography.
- Demographics: These attributes belong to the decision makers within the organizations that fit your firmographic picture. Things like age, gender, title, and responsibilities.
The Best Place to Find this Data
So many guides exist on finding your ideal buyers and niching down. Most of them are pretty good. But they all have one thing in common that is the best (and potentially only) tip to finding your best clients.
Look at your current buyers.
If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you may have a pool of clients to give you some insight into how you sell and how people buy. Call them and find a few things out, including:
- Which customers were easy to sell? Why?
- Have any clients referred you to their colleagues? Why?
- Who seems to enjoy your work the most and have the fewest complaints?
Once you have a decent amount of knowledge, it’s time to pick out the attributes (firmographics and demographics) that these great clients have in common.
Doing this should give you a couple of target industries. Now you’ll have the inspiration to help you sculpt that clay into your UVP.
Notice: Our second module was a detailed look at developing an ideal customer profile. For a complete “how-to” please refer back to this section of the course.
Step Three: Find the Most Useful Benefits/Functions (for Your Buyers)
The clay is on the turning wheel and your ideal buyer is in your mind to help you be inspired. It’s time to start cutting away.
Break out that huge list of features along with your new client profiles and buyer personas. It doesn’t happen 100% of the time, but there could be a few benefits that you thought were “key” which may not be on the top of the list of your buyers.
Reminder: This is why you need to get on the phone with buyers and ask plainly why they bought. They’ll tell you and it may be a shocker.
Uber’s Unique Value
We all know that Uber is disrupting the Taxi industry, but if you look closely, that’s not really their competition. What are they competing with?
From the site’s web copy, we see a story of what their ideal clients are concerned with and it’s not a fight against the machine of Taxis. It’s about proving their value and convenience. There are tons of benefits and cool things about getting an Uber.
- Be honest, it’s cool. You want to ride up somewhere in a car with a personal driver.
- Great for special occasions, too. Weddings, parties, etc…
- A fantastic alternative to drunk driving. There have been studies that prove and disprove this, but it’s a way safer bet to get an Uber.
But, these aren’t the reasons why people download the app. All the pages of the site tell the story of speed, ease, and value.
Uber UVP #1: Hassle-Free and Fast Riding
Uber UVP #2: Affordable Pricing
Moreover, the site is very focused on these two points. Here’s a screenshot of the homepage, just below the fold.
Uber-Focused (pun intended): The site is streamlined, yet large. If you want to find intricate details about the company, you’re going to have to go to the footer menu (which is quite large). Other than that, it’s focused on those two UVPs.
Not every single positive attribute of their brand and service.
Step Four: Fine Tune and Cut it Down
There’s a lot of clay on the ground by now, but there’s still too much left on your masterpiece UVP.
Now, it’s time to use finer tools and begin to sculpt the details of your unique value proposition in a way that communicates its worth to your target audience.
Essentially, you’re trying to get it down to one good paragraph. And we don’t mean, “Meh, that’ll work.”
It has to be what your company does for its customers summarized in a way that makes people understand the brand in a few short sentences. Doing this will dramatically improve the buying cycle and the power of the sales team.
Moreover, it’s the UVP that will impact many future decisions including:
- Website Copy: Expanding that paragraph where necessary to explain things further.
- Product Updates: Once you understand how your brand intersects with its customers, changes become easier to see and implement (also more successful).
- New Products/Services: Similar to updates, entirely new products, features, and services can increase your company’s revenue with a good UVP understanding.
Just take a look at the homepage copy of Uber (screenshot below). A few short paragraphs that convey the two biggest sales points of the company — convenience and affordability.
Here are the ways to fine-tune your own research into a smooth UVP statement.
Multiple Drafts, Multiple People
You’ll likely have a lot of movement early on. Deciding which personas to target, which of their pains to speak to, and how to convey those things in as little language as possible. That’s perfectly ok!
It’s a fluid process.
Have multiple members of your team come up with multiple drafts. Piece together the most effective language and have a few different versions to split test over time. Testing can happen through email marketing (checking the response), web copy, or even in your sales presentations.
Ask for Honest Feedback from Colleagues and Customers
Send your top 3 options to colleagues, people in your mastermind, and even your current customers to see how it hits them. It’s important to get input and feedback at every stage of this process.
If you’re relying on your own intuition and not research, there is no way to forecast results.
Those in similar industries or who use the products will be able to provide feedback from a place of experience. Use it.
Hire a Copywriter
Once you have your 2-3 versions of your unique value proposition, it may be time to bring in some help. A copywriter isn’t going to know which features your customers like most, but if you’ve done this research, a skilled wordsmith will be able to convey it in a way that makes people feel the way you want them to about your products/brand.
If you’re bootstrapping it’s not 100% necessary, but it’s not a waste of money to pay a qualified, well-referenced copywriter to really make your value stand out.
Step Five: Make a Promise
Promises are the power of the proposition. They are infused throughout our Uber example. Even statements like, “Always On, Always Available” are promises themselves.
In fact, it’s impossible to have an effective UVP without promising your prospects that you can accomplish the things that make you unique. It’s a huge key to the level of influence you have on prospects.
Let’s look at the three styles of promise in Uber’s unique value proposition language.
Matter of Fact
“One tap and a car comes directly to you. Hop in—your driver knows exactly where to go. And when you get there, just step out. Payment is completely seamless.”
Just tell them what they’ll get when using your stuff. Don’t preface it, don’t explain yourself, just say it. This copy reads like a bullet-pointed list, but it conveys the value of their brand so well. It’s an extended version of the next type of promise.
“Tap a Button, Get a Ride”
This is the kind of statement that sells to those who don’t like to waste time. There really isn’t much more you need to stay. It’s this statement that falls into the “Moore’s Positioning” level, but that’s another post.
But what if we don’t have a driver? What if it takes them 15 minutes to get there? What if, what if?
These are a few of the things you may have considered when you read this very bold promise. Sure, there’s a risk that someone will have an unrealistic expectation in their head about this promise and never use the service again.
That said, this does bring up an important point about your promises. Make sure you account for them.
Uber has everything tracked so well that you can see who your driver is, where they are, and how long it will take them to get to you. So, if a user taps that button, they’ll be “in the know”. It’s not like ordering a pizza and then getting the old “30 minutes to an hour”.
Uber lets users be as informed as they want to be, which helps them make such a bold promise.
Ensure that you can do the same with your promises and be bold.
Are You Unique Enough Yet?
Every company is unique. It’s just that most don’t do a good enough job of conveying their differences and finding a core group of clients to appreciate their value.
If you follow the steps outlined in this post, your unique value proposition will emerge. You can then refine this as you go and exploit it to really take your messaging to the next level.
What’s your unique value proposition? Let us know in the comments or on social! We’d love to hear it.
Read more: Are You Providing Value-Added Service or Value-Unique Service?
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