Jill Konrath, Part III: Writing Your Value Proposition

In Part I and Part II of Jill’s Value Proposition series, we’ve learned all about what a value prop is and the components that comprise it. Today, in Part III, we’re going to tackle the actual writing.


Let’s Get Started! (and Look at Examples!)

Using business drivers, movement words, and specific metrics, the value proposition writer should bring together these ideas:

  1. What you do (product/service/offering)

  2. For whom? (identify your customer)

  3. The desired result (what matters to your customer)

  4. Why you are uniquely qualified to provide the results they need.


“Our highly-qualified team of content writers works with solopreneur consultants to customize email templates to increase response rates by up to 235%. We guarantee improvement in open rate of at least 100% or our work is free.”

Let’s create some more good examples to model. Here’s a sample for a web marketing firm. It’s uninteresting, not compelling, not specific — a good way to get deleted and forgotten.

“We create high quality, affordable websites for companies who do business online.”

Strengthened with business drivers, movement words, and specific metrics:

“We help retailers increase their online sales conversion rates up to 58% and their average order size by 25%.”

A weak and boring document management value proposition:

“Our leading edge systems allow you to capture, manage, and share paper documents digitally.”

A specific and strong document management value proposition:

“We help distributors reduce their order-to-cash processing costs by an average of 67.2% at the same time they increase customer satisfaction. In our work with similar-sized firms, they’ve been able to save between $3-5k per month.”

See what that did? It helped identify an unmet need — reducing order-to-cash processing costs. It helps solve a pain — customer dissatisfaction. And it shows a specific example — the real metric of increased revenue. If you read this proposition, wouldn’t you have questions about how the company might work for you? Wouldn’t you be interested in talking more?

Here’s a strong sales training statement:

“We help companies crack into big accounts and shorten sales cycles. One of our recent clients had an 87% success rate in getting into the largest companies in the US.”

A strong Internet marketing company’s statement:

“We have helped 100’s of clients build brand awareness and increase reach by up to 253% — while cutting their advertising budget by up to 47%.”

Here’s an example of a statement that includes all the components:

“We help large companies reduce the cost of their employee benefits programs without impacting benefit levels. With the spiraling costs of health care today, this is a critical issue for most businesses. One of our recent clients, a large manufacturing company similar to yours, was struggling with how to reduce spending in this area. We saved them over $800,000 in just six months. Plus, they didn’t cut any services to their employees, nor did their employees have to pay more.”

The stronger, metrics-rich examples are obviously going to intrigue prospects and make them want to know more. Now they see a reason to move away from the status quo!

A formula??? [Name] is a {type of business] created with one purpose: to [help our customers do x – use business drivers, metrics, and movement words]. We have [name asset or assets or features] that [name benefits]

What To Do with Your Value Propositions

Once you’ve got a great proposition, you can use it at every customer touchpoint:

  • voicemails

  • emails

  • calls to action

  • website content

  • conversations

  • ebooks

  • white papers

  • blog posts

  • guarantees

  • presentations

  • proposals

Other creative ways to use your value proposition:

  • To develop a telephone script that highlights the key business results your product,service or solution delivers.

  • To craft a business letter to decision makers who work at targeted accounts.

  • As a basis for your marketing campaign and in all your marketing collateral.

  • As the foundation for a customer-centric PowerPoint presentation.

  • As the core message delivered in your totally customized customer proposals.

But based on what I’ve seen in working with sellers, the biggest benefit you get from understanding your value proposition is … (drum roll) … a strengthened belief in your own offering.

If you truly understand the value you bring to customers from a business perspective, you’ll work harder to get into accounts and be less discouraged by rejection. You won’t question or doubt if there’s a market for your offering because you will know that what you offer makes a difference. And ultimately you’ll sell a lot more!

Now It’s Your Turn

Strong value propositions are your best tool for setting up meetings with prospective buyers. Many companies tout really weak value propositions. And, worse yet –

nobody realizes just how bad their value propositions are. Don’t let another day go by with a weak value proposition. Use all the resources at your disposal to strengthen your value proposition.

Remember the formidable advantage of writing and using great value props:

Corporate decision makers will nearly always meet with sellers who offer tangible outcomes and measurable results.

Need I say more?


Helpful Worksheets

Appendix A Worksheet: Finding Your Value Proposition


1. Establish the Customer’s Current Situation

Without your product or service, how do they do things today?

2. Define the Problem or Gaps

What problems does your offering solve? What opportunities does it create?

3. Clarify the Business Implications

Explore the “Ripple Effect.” Find other areas impacted by the problems/gaps.

4. Determine the Value of Change

What’s the pay-off (tangible value, intangible value, opportunity costs) from using your product/service?


Appendix B Worksheet: Brainstorming with Colleagues


While asking your customers for input is one of the best ways to understand the true value of your offering, sometimes it’s not easy to do. They may be hard to reach or difficult to visit. Decision makers may have changed since the initial decision to go with your offering. Or, they may not be very articulate about the value of your product or service. If that’s the case, don’t fret! Alternative strategies are available.

Get together with a group of colleagues to discuss your value proposition. Your collective wisdom and experience provides a broad perspective. Plus it keeps you from only maintaining a focus on what your product or service can do. Even if you slip back into a description of your offering, your colleagues will challenge your thinking.

Review your marketing materials. Reflect on your customer knowledge. Think about what you say that interests and excites your customers and prospects. As a group, here are some questions you can discuss:

How does your product, service or solution impact your customer’s bottom line or expenses?

– What costs have been eliminated?

– Time saved?

– Can you quantify a tangible hard dollar value gain?

– What intangible value has it provided?

What positive impact has your product, service or solution had on bringing additional revenue/business to your clients?

– What has the gain been?

– Can you determine a tangible hard dollar value gain?

– What intangible value has it provided?

Does your product, service or solution enable your customer to achieve any competitive advantage?

– What has the gain been?

– Can you determine a specific hard dollar value gain?

– What soft values has it provided?

Does your product, service or solution have an impact on your customer’s customer?

– What has the gain been?

– Can you determine a specific hard dollar value gain?

– What intangible value has it provided?

How has your product, service or solution impacted your customer’s bottom line or expenses?

– What costs have been eliminated?

– Time saved?

– Can you quantify a specific hard dollar value gain?

– What soft values has it provided?

If tangible results aren’t forthcoming, challenge the group to take the discussion to the next level. Keep asking each other, “So what?”

● So what if it’s an efficient system?

● So what if we have a replicable process?

● So what if it’s high quality?

● So what if they have improved communication?

● So what if we cut turnaround time by 2 days?

● So what if the morale has improved.

Asking these question over and over again, gets you much closer to the real value you bring to customers. Look for the impact your offering has in the organization. What financial effect do your products, systems, or services have on the business?

Determining your value proposition with only an internal analysis can be dangerous, though. Outside validation by your customers is important, if at all possible. When it comes down to spending money, it’s only your customer’s perception that counts.

If you’re an independent professional, get a group of colleagues together and brainstorm each other’s business case. You need each other to get to your primary value proposition – you’re much too close to it to discover it without help.