Why You Absolutely Need a Value Proposition

Posted in  Blog   on  October 26, 2016 by  Marc

Every site is different. They have different target audiences, different problems and different solutions for those problems.

But they have one thing in common: they need a value proposition.

If you do it right, your value proposition is going to be one of your best conversion boosters.

In contrast to what you might think, visitors to your site often don’t know what your site’s about when they land on it. You would assume they know because you explained in the ad they just clicked on. But not everyone reads your ads. People sometimes just randomly click on stuff without really knowing where they’re going.

That’s where the value proposition fits in. Your value proposition will make it crystal clear within the first five seconds of every visit.

  • What your site is about
  • What your visitor can do there
  • Why he or she should do that with you and not someone else

Unfortunately, this often goes wrong. I rarely encounter sites that succeed in explaining this in a concise and tangible way to their visitors. And that is a missed opportunity. Some of your visitors will land on your site, not get what it’s all about, and just leave.

Think that’s exaggerated? Then try it yourself. For the next 24 hours on each site you land on, try to figure out in five seconds what it’s about and why you should stay there. I bet the majority of sites will fail your test miserably.

Test Your Value Proposition

If you want to test how good your value proposition is – in other words, how clear it is for your visitors, what your site is about, and why they should stay – I highly recommend the Five Second Test. It’s super easy. After you upload your home page, random people get to see it for five seconds and then you can ask them a few questions. You can ask what the site is about, what makes it special or unique, what stood out for them, etc.

Chances are, you’re going to be surprised by the results. Give it a try, it takes five minutes to set up and you’ll learn a lot from it. It’s quite possibly the first step to a compelling value proposition that will boost your conversions.

What Exactly is a Value Proposition?

‘A value proposition is a promise of value that customers can expect from your product or from your company. It’s differentiated from other alternatives customers might consider and is backed up by reasons to believe’.

Ok, that’s kind of vague and abstract, right?

Think of it like this: it’s the reason to buy from you. Or to choose you (if you’re not selling anything). And it should be unique. Another term that will probably make it more tangible is differentiator. What makes you different from your competitors? Why should they choose you instead of them?

You May Not Have a Problem with Your Traffic or Your Site

If you don’t have anything that sets you apart from your competitors, you’ll find it very hard (or nearly impossible) to convince customers to buy from you. You can have tons of traffic and a website that follows all conversion optimisation and usability best practices and still have a hard time selling.

If you don’t have anything that sets you apart from your competitors, you don’t have a problem with your site, but with your business.

You need to find ways to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Even if it’s only by adding value boosters that your competitor isn’t offering. You can offer free delivery or free return. Or free same-day delivery. Or a money back guarantee. Or… anyway, you get the point.

Of course, if you try to set yourself apart from your competition, it’s important that you choose something that has value to your buyer and can have an impact on their decision. For instance, you offer free gift wrapping and your competitor offers free delivery. If your customer doesn’t care about free gift wrapping and does care about free delivery, you’re not going to boost your conversions.

Questions You Should Ask Yourself

In his excellent book ‘80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More’, Perry Marshall sums up the questions you should ask yourself in order to come up with your unique value proposition:

  1. Why should I listen to you? What can you make unique about you?
    • Service – Guaranteed friendliness. Guaranteed delivery. Guaranteed live person on the phone
    • The market you serve is unique – you focus on hair salons
    • Your product is unique – It has a guaranteed result. It’s tailor-made for X kind of person. Using it is a guaranteed ‘experience’.
    • Your whole ‘experience’ is unique – A cab/limo driver promises hot Starbucks coffee and a morning newspaper waiting for you, and he’ll have you to the airport on time or you don’t pay.
    • Your price is unique – It may be a low price (lowest price guarantee). It may carry a premium price. There are guaranteed add-ons that other competitors don’t offer at your price.
  2. Why should I do business with you instead of anybody and everybody else?
  3. What can your product do for me that no other product can do?
  4. What can you guarantee me that nobody else can guarantee?

I agree, this is not an easy exercise. But it can be a total game changer. If you can answer these questions, and articulate your value proposition clearly, you’re well on your way to boost your conversions.

What Your Value Proposition Needs to Look Like

Now that you’ve answered the questions from the previous paragraph, you need to make your value proposition clear.

First off, your value proposition doesn’t belong on your About Us or Why Us page. You can’t expect your visitors to go actively looking for it. You have to show it on your home page. And it has to be prominent. It has to be big so it’s the first thing your visitors see when they land on your site.

There’s no universal formula, but this is a good starting point for communicating your value proposition on your home page:

  • A headline
  • You can add a sub-headline or a short intro paragraph
  • A few bullet points that emphasise your strong points
  • An image that illustrates or supports your value proposition


When you use images, make sure you:

  • Don’t use stock images. People spot stock images from miles away. They make you look fake and less trustworthy.
  • Don’t use images that distract from the message. Your goal is for people to read your value proposition. If their attention is directed toward the image rather than to the text, you’ve failed.
  • Don’t use sliders. They distract from what you want to say. They’ve been tested against static images over and over again and static images win almost every time.
  • Don’t use background video. You know the kind of Airbnb-style video background you see popping up everywhere? I call them ‘the sliders of 2016’. Because just like sliders, they distract from what you want to say. People’s attention will go to the background video, not to your message. That doesn’t mean you can’t use video to support your value proposition, it just means you shouldn’t use them as a background instead of an image. What you can do with video is to place a prominent video with a play button next to your written value proposition. When you click play, the video explains your value proposition. But don’t rely on the video to explain your value proposition. Not everyone is going to watch your video, so you need to have it in writing as well. Otherwise, many of your visitors will miss out.

Tip: look in your Google Analytics account to see what the most important landing pages of your site are. Try to integrate your value proposition on those pages.

Concrete, Concise, and Clear

The language and tone of voice you use for your value proposition are very important:

  • Make it concrete and tangible. An abstract value proposition is hard to understand and it won’t help you to convince your visitors. You need to keep it simple and obvious. But above all, you need to make it crystal clear what it’s all about.
Any easier would be difficult. Clever, but not clear at all. Tell me what it’s all about and what’s in it for me!
  • Avoid hype. Don’t use ‘best’ or ‘award winning’. They don’t mean anything unless you have evidence to support it.
Don’ use hype: ‘Totally Awesome to use’... says who?
Don’ use hype: ‘Totally Awesome to use’… says who?
  • Be concise. Don’t write six paragraphs if you can say the same in one.
  • Avoid jargon. Say it in simple words so the visitors who don’t know all the jargon will understand you.
  • Don’t talk too much about yourself. Try to phrase it in terms of your visitors. What’s in it for them? That’s all they care about anyway.
OK, good for you Infosys, but what’s in it for me?
OK, good for you Infosys, but what’s in it for me?
  • Use the language of your customers. If you sell table tennis tables but your customers all talk about ping pong tables, use ping pong tables instead.
  • Don’t try to be clever or funny. It’s not an advertising slogan. Clarity is an essential characteristic of a good value proposition. ‘We make pigs fly’ is not a value proposition – unless you’re an airline for pigs.


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