What are your customers really buying? Nail down your positioning with this value proposition statement template.

What are you customers really buying from you? What can you offer them to increase sales and satisfaction?

When you know your value proposition, you know exactly who to sell to, how much to charge, and where to find more customers. This value proposition statement template will give you step-by-step instructions to find your value proposition.

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What is a value proposition?

A value proposition is what people get when they choose your product or service. A value proposition represents the tangible and intangible value of what you sell — both the actual product, and the benefits that your customers get from the product.

The value proposition of a product can be financial, material, emotional, or social, and a single product can have more than one value proposition (even different value propositions for different markets).

Understanding your value proposition is key to understanding who you sell to, how much you can charge, and where you can find new customers.

Imagine a relatively straightforward product, like a weighted blanket. The value proposition could be:

  • It feels good to be under a weighted blanket.
  • You will sleep better and feel better with a weighted blanket
  • Imagine snuggling up on the couch under this blanket to watch a move.

There can be material, social, or emotional benefits to even everyday products.

Does your business save people time? Make them money? Help them feel better? Improve relationships? Nail down what you’re really selling and it gets easier to sell.



How do you write a value proposition statement?

A standard value proposition statement follows this format: “[your product] is a [type of product] for [your target audience] that provides [benefit of your product].”

Unfortunately, this isn’t all that useful to you. How do you fill in the blanks? Sure your product is easy enough to fill in, but if you are guessing at your target audience you’re not going to get to the real underlying benefits.

Ultimately the only way to get real answers is to talk to your customers. Who buys your product? Why do they buy it? How do they use it?

There are a lot of ways to do customer research. As you dig in, think about positioning expert April Dunford’s components of effective positioning:

  1. Competitive alternatives. What would people use if they didn’t have your product?
  2. Unique attributes. What you have that other products don’t.
  3. Value. What benefit people get from your product.
  4. Target market. Who buys this product? Who is it for?
  5. Market category. What type of product is it? What will people compare it to?

Answering these questions takes real research, but it also tells you what you should actually be paying attention to.

Are people actually using one of your competitors, or do they just use a spreadsheet? What do they actually like about your product (it’s not always what you think)?



What is a good value proposition example?

One famous example of a value proposition comes from Clayton Christensen’s “milkshake story.”

Harvard professor Clayton Christiensen is one of the creators of the “Jobs to Be Done” framework for understanding product benefits. In research for a fast food chain, he uncovered an unexpected example of a value proposition.

Before Christensen got involved with the fast food company, they had done all kinds of market research with their customers. They’d studied the demographics of people who bought milkshakes, brought them in to try samples, and even asked “how can we improve our milkshakes.”

But even though what customers said was very clear — making the requested changes didn’t increase milkshake sales at all.

Instead of asking customers about how to change the milkshake (remember: people don’t always know what they want), Christensen investigated what was causing them to buy the milkshake in the first place.

When he and his team actually sat outside of a fast food restaurant, they found that over half of all milkshakes were being sold in the morning. The people who bought them were generally alone, and they would buy a milkshake and then leave without much else in their order.

What was going on? This was a far cry from how people thought milkshakes were consumed — most people would assume that milkshakes are a dessert, or were bought by parents at the request of their children.

When Christensen interviewed milkshake buyers, he found that they were trying to accomplish two things:

  • Give them something to do during a morning commute, with one hand still on the wheel
  • Keep them from getting hungry in the morning and hold them over until at least 10am

Milkshakes weren’t a dessert at all! They were a breakfast alternative. With this clearer value proposition, changing the product was easy — make it thicker and more filling, so that it lasts the whole commute and keeps people full.

Your value proposition might not be what you expect it to be. Make sure you do real research to understand what your customers want when they buy from you.



Is there a difference between a value proposition and a unique selling proposition?

No — a value proposition is broadly about what your customers get from buying your product. A unique selling proposition is related, but is more about what makes your product unique against alternatives in the market.

What are the words people use when they talk about value propositions or USPs?

  • Benefits
  • Advantages
  • Unique selling points
  • Opportunity
  • Leverage
  • Promise of value to be delivered
  • Value analysis
  • Product matrix
  • SWOT analysis

Cut through the jargon — you don’t need to use business school language in order to create a great value proposition and understand your customers. All you need is a process that gets you to a great customer benefit.



Download a value proposition statement template to get started quickly

There are a ton of different value proposition templates out there.

Other examples of value proposition templates include:

  • Geoff Moore’s value proposition template
  • Guy Kawasaki’s value proposition template
  • Dave McClure’s value proposition template

Most other value proposition templates are some variation of “fill in the blanks.” Yes they have different blanks or they ask you to ask different questions — but a simple “fill in the blank” doesn’t magically give you what you need to understand your customers.

Each framework is potentially useful — but following Jobs to Be Done or April Dunford’s approach will help you get a deeper understanding of your customers. Download the template to get to your great value proposition!

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