How to Create a Standout Unique Value Proposition
- The truth is that most company unique value propositions are not unique and often not that valuable to customers.
- Ineffective value propositions render the company a commodity and shift customer decision making from value to price.
- Effective value propositions gain earlier engagement and higher sales conversions. In fact, buyer research shows that "overall value" is the #1 factor buyers cite when making purchase decisions.
Why Some Unique Value Propositions Outperform Others
Customers are constrained by time and overwhelmed with options. They want to quickly understand what makes one company different than the next and one product better than another.
They also don't care about your product or service. They only care about what it can do for them.
These truths create a golden opportunity for brands to shift from blending in to standing out with a compelling unique value proposition (UVP).
Unique Value Definition Explained
The most successful companies stand for something and avoid trying to stand for everything. Their focus creates a specialty, deep expertise and a UVP.
The UVP, sometimes called a unique selling proposition (USP), is a concise, straight-to-the-point declaration of a company's unique value. It's the reason why a buyer is best advised to buy from one company over another.
It demonstrates differentiation that separates you from competitors and gives you a perceived advantage.
It explains how you solve your customers problems.
It describes the tangible business outcomes achieved by other customers.
It does these things so that the company can solicit customer interest and stand out from competitors.
Most readers of this blog know Johnny Grow, so I'll use our UVP as an example.
We are revenue architects that help companies accelerate and sustain revenue growth.
It's a succinct phrase, by design, but the words deliver specific meanings.
- The term "revenue architects" defines our unique role. Our specialty is to design and implement revenue growth methods. It's the only thing we do.
- The single word of "architects" suggests a logical or science-based approach, which is reinforced by our research and publishing of revenue performance measures and evidenced-based best practices.
- The term "sustain" is important as we're developing systemic processes that deliver lasting results. Many companies hit a temporary double-digit revenue growth after a new product release or because of a few big deals only to revert to challenged growth in future periods.
The below positioning diagram provides a broader illustration of how to find your UVP.
To create your own standout UVP, consider this two-step method.
First, you need to know what's most important to your target audience. For most companies, this means identifying buyer insights for your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
Value is defined by the customer. So, to develop an accurate UVP you will need to invest in some customer research.
The minimum two questions that need to be answered are i) How do new customers attribute value to products like yours? and ii) how did existing customers value your product both before and after the sale?
You will gain additional customer intelligence from the three below questions.
- Why do prospects buy from us?
- Why do prospects buy from our competitors and not us?
- Why do some prospects not buy at all?
Be clear, the answers to these questions lie outside your office. You have to interview your customers. Unless you have completed current research, don't believe you already know the answers to these questions. At best, you are partially right, and any inaccuracy or incompleteness will degrade your UVP.
Once you know the value, the second step is to craft a UVP that is relevant, measurable and unique.
- Relevancy is the easiest component of the three. It ensures that you are solving important customer problems. Problems that matter. Problems where the pain outweighs the status quo and is therefore significant enough to drive change. Relevancy ensures the customer cares about your UVP.
- Measurability quantifies value using customer validated measurements such as risk reduction, time to value, time to payback, payback amount or ROI. The most common mistake is making sweeping generalities that are just not credible. You need to have some proof points behind the metrics.
- Uniqueness is the most difficult of the three. It defines your differentiation and informs why the customer should buy from you and not from the competition. The most common challenge here is the gap between what the customer and the company believe is unique. This gap becomes a real problem when companies promote me-too'isms.
Company messaging proclaiming differentiation based their people, products, quality or customer centricity is not different when other companies promote the same things. The message may be true. But when everyone says it, it's lost in a sea of sameness. If the customer can substitute your value component with another vendor, the UVP doesn't work. Remember, you do not need to be unique to everybody, just to your target audience.
Additionally, the UVP should be simple, succinct and convincing. The most strategic value propositions are built on the company's brand and competitive advantages.
The Point is This
The UVP is powerful because it answers every prospects first question: What makes you different from the competition?
It's powerful because it appeals to the customer's strongest decision-making criteria and because its pervasive. It should influence branding, copywriting, marketing collaterals and the website. It should be used in introductory conversations, sales win plans, sales proposals, contract negotiations and other customer touch points that will benefit by positioning the company as the best choice.
It's also powerful because it's a concise statement that drives contrast. And that's important because contrast drives customer decision making. So, unless your unique value proposition shows a big enough surplus between their problem and your solution the status quo will prevail. Unless your value proposition shows a difference between your product and the competitors, the customer will choose the most familiar or low-cost solution.