The unique value proposition (UVP) is one of the fundamental tenets of marketing. It clarifies what you do well and why consumers should hire you. It implies why you are a better choice than your competition.
Without a UVP, a prospective client won’t understand why they should work with you or how you solve their problem. A crisp UVP is at the heart of your marketing message.
It’s curious, then, to look at the typical small business website. Many are creative websites with beautiful layouts, professional images, and lots of information.
But no value proposition.
Typically, the problem is not that the business doesn’t have a UVP. Most business people understand they need a competitive idea. The problem is they don’t communicate value in a way that connects with the visitor’s needs.
The most common culprit is not viewing your offering from the perspective of someone who is totally new to it. To you, your UVP is obvious. But not to others. Vague language forces visitors to figure out the value offering for themselves. Few take the time.
Or you fail to test and refine. Most UVP are short and simple, but their simplicity is deceptive. Behind that clarity was a process of refinement.
And many business owners fail to analyze their competition and consider all the options their prospective customers have. How can you say you’re the best choice if you don’t understand what the choices are?
Because creating an effective value proposition is rare for small businesses, if you dial yours in you’ll have a real competitive advantage.
How to Structure Your Value Proposition
Your UVP should be as long as it needs to be to accomplish three things:
- Communicate something specific of value.
- Clarify the benefit(s) customers derive from your offer.
- State or imply why you’re the best choice.
You provide answers to these questions:
- What do you do? Can you help me?
- What’s in this for me? Why are you worth it?
- Why should I choose you instead of another service or method of solving my problem?
Usually, a slogan or tagline is not enough. Often a headline, subheadline, or bullet points are needed.
Fidelity has a well-structured value proposition that comprises their entire homepage:
Complicated services, yet you understand the value they offer in about 10 seconds. They show their clear competitive advantage in pricing, both at the top and bottom of the homepage, with the superlative value phrase: We cut our trading price to give you even more value. Perfectly executed.
How can you develop or improve your value proposition? Here are some tips.
#1. Get Specific About What You Deliver
The vast majority of small business websites we analyze are too vague about what they offer. The homepage has an image (which may or may not have anything to do with the offer), a fluff-filled headline and a weak call to action.
Others simply communicate no value at all. They go into their history and the challenges they faced getting into business. Clichés ensue. Quality comes first for us! We truly care about our clients! Your success is our success!
Brainstorm specific things you do really well and craft a headline around them. Instead of buzzwords and catch phrases, develop your message around the specific benefit of your offering.
For example, instead of:
We treat our clients like they were our own family!
Get a fast, free, honest estimate with our low pricing guarantee. We don’t just want to earn your business, we want to earn your trust!
#2. Clearly Indicate How You Solve Your Customer’s Problem
Far too many business websites take this for granted. They assume visitors will understand the benefit of working with them.
The lack of empathy usually results in business-centric messaging. Take, for example, headlines from two business communications companies:
How are they going to solve my problem? What benefit do they offer? What is a support advantage?
Cisco communicates a stronger value proposition:
There is a host of powerful words here. You can “unleash” technology without it becoming complicated. I get what Cisco can do to make my life easier.
#3. Distinguish Yourself From the Competition
Sometimes you might directly state how you beat a competitor. But more often, the difference is implied.
This probably ties into a specific benefit you offer. Try phrases like:
- Nobody can match our prices.
- We’ve beaten them at their own game.
- Don’t be fooled by…
- No other ____ comes close.
Guarantees and assurances imply that you’re the better choice:
- Lifetime guarantee
- No-hassle return policy
- Quality that’s guaranteed.
- We’re not satisfied until you are.
But be sure to stay specific. Don’t make claims of greatness (the world’s #1) or use superlatives (the best, most incredible, etc.) without proof. If you make these claims, back them up with details and testimonials.
A Search For Dental Value
I was recently looking for a dentist. Here are a few example websites I found with comments on how they communicate their UVP.
This homepage demonstrates a common problem: no UVP whatsoever.
For some reason, they show an image of their building, which I assume is their office. I’m asked to schedule a visit with no information on why I should choose them in a headline.
Instead, I have to read boring, stilted text. They provide a “unique dental experience” as well as the “ultimate dental experience”. Is that good or bad? Frankly, those phrases kind of scare me…
They say they care and are exceptional. I guess I just have to take their word for it.
No doubt the dentist at this practice thought this was a fantastic homepage.
But for me as a first-time visitor, it flops. Let my smile soar? Soar where? Is this guy a dentist or a poet? And what does the hawk have to do with my dental care? This image and headline are almost nonsensical. It does nothing to motivate action or make clear why I should select this dentist.
I went through about a dozen dental websites in my area. All were either business-centric, totally vague, or overwhelmed by catchphrases and clichés. Because none of them have a crisp, clear UVP, it leaves my decision up to chance. I’ll select the ones that at least seem professional then check reviews. But with no strong value offering to motivate me, my inclination is to just put this off.
Here is a dental website we did for Soft Touch Dentists on the UXI® website template that’s better:
This headline actually speaks directly to me with a reassuring message. They make it clear in the subtext what types of dentistry they practice. The call to action asks that I “Improve my smile today!”. Yes, I’d like to do that.
The Top Rated Local widget connects to positive reviews from real clients. They have a chat feature so I can ask a question. And hey, the image actually shows a healthy smile (with the soothing comfort of the flowers, a nice touch) instead of a building or a bird.
Case Study: Adding a Value Proposition Increases Conversions By 200%
We had a client with a homepage that didn’t have a clear value proposition. The marketing executive decided to add some value proposition content to the homepage that:
- Made a clear pricing offer ($1.99 special)
- Noted financing options
- Made the statement that “We beat our Competitors Prices”
The result? A massive increase in conversions right after adding the value proposition:
Clear pricing, easy payment options, and explicitly stating that they beat their competition made a huge difference.
Lack of a strong value proposition is the single biggest error in small business digital marketing. Take a look at local service providers in your area, and you’ll see one website after the next fail at communicating unique, specific value.
That probably includes your competition. You now have a key piece of information on how you can differentiate yourself.
Say you are better. Be specific about the value you deliver. Back it up.
When it’s clear to your visitors, you’ll turn many more of them into customers.