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“No enterprise can exist for itself alone. It ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others… or failing therein, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist.” Despite being said in the mid 20s, these words, spoken by Calvin Coolidge, are so essential to business that they’re still spoken today.
What Coolidge’s poetic statement implies is that the entire reason businesses exist is to make a profit, and more importantly, that is the sole reason that they exist.
Moreover, Coolidge suggests that in order for any business to maintain their role in any marketplace, they have to provide value. And those that have fallen out of favor have done so because they have lost sight of how to provide that value.
The reason for this brief glance through history is not to give another lecture on Business 101, but to remind online marketers that the key to online success still comes from core business principles and not aggressive SEO techniques.
Instead it comes from core business principles, specifically the one surrounding a gripping value proposition. And the smaller your company is, the more significant this principle becomes.
Why a value proposition?
In an increasingly competitive market, the online industry is becoming saturated with literally millions of search results.
So if one company doesn’t have what the consumer is looking for, that consumer will quickly go elsewhere. It’s a mentality that we all as consumers have developed in a world with so many options.
This fact weighs heavily on the actions of your online marketing campaign. When customer’s come across their first result in a search engine, they’ll let the page load, and disappear back to the SERPs in a few seconds.
The most common reason is that the copy in its because you haven’t provided those consumers with the proper information to make the decision on whether the site is right for them. That’s exactly why you need a compelling value proposition. Otherwise, your bounce rate will suffer.
What is a value proposition?
A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered. Its goal is to motivate and engage the most apathetic type of person; your customer. It’s the entire reason a prospective customer would even consider buying from you.
The core ingredients in any successful value proposition are as follows:
- Offering: What Products and Services are being offered?
- Benefits: What benefits does the consumer derive from your services and products? Specifically, our proposition should aim to solve customer problems, or state how it will improve their situation. This will provide a quantified value in the eyes of the consumer, as well as deem your product/services relevant to them.
- Proof: What proof is there to validate your claims in your value proposition? This segment is essential to providing differentiation from other companies, especially in a competitive market.
Be careful, value propositions are easily misconstrued
Unfortunately, value propositions are often mistaken for glamorous advertising or are way too embellished to serve their purpose.
If you want to earn your customer’s time then you have to speak in their language, where as you will alienate them by trying to overdo the statement.
What they are not:
Struck, a digital advertising agency, may be pros at creative thinking, but they may have skipped Business 101 in college.
Who knows what that company is trying to sell, the most I can tell is that it sells “creative marketing.” And they make brands greater than what? As a consumer, I wouldn’t think of Struck as the go-to business to market my company, since I’m not even sure of what it does.
This means I would be immediately going back to Google for better search results. Not to mention, even if I did just happen across Struck, I would never convert. I have no idea how the services could actually benefit me.
The purpose of this? To illustrate that it’s important to be blunt, and speak in terms that everyone understands. Don’t risk confusing the consumer. Otherwise you can consider their business gone.
“Virgin Atlantic, More Experience than our Name Suggests”
This isn’t a value proposition. It’s an advertising slogan. While copy like this does serve a point, it doesn’t belong at the forefront of your website, unless your brand needs no introduction.
There’s no need to “welcome” customers and site visitors. While the goal may be to encourage them to feel more welcome, that prime real estate can be used more effectively.
Visitors need to know what SITECH Allegheny will do for them. Instead, SITECH Allegheny would be better served utilizing this space by relaying to visitors that the company distributes construction technology and the benefit of those services through a short, concise value proposition.
Four things you need in the perfect value proposition
A perfect value proposition is simple and easy to understand. It’s amazing what one sentence can mean for your business’s success.
Here are four things you must have in order to be successful.
- Be concise, and clear. The consumer must be able to understand you within five seconds.
- All of the factors included in a value proposition are included. It explains the offering and the benefits.
- It differentiates your brand from competitors.
- Avoids extra jargon that doesn’t provide extra value for the consumer. You may think being the “best” is worthwhile to say, but there has to be proof for it, otherwise the statement instills suspicion instead of trust.
Finally. Now you know all about what it takes to create a compelling value proposition that will keep AND convert your visitors.
By following these guidelines you can be sure to be a successful ecommerce business, and to remind your SEO company to consider these factors a much higher priority than what keywords they can fit in a page. It’s amazing what a single sentence can do for your business.
Examples of a good value proposition
Practice makes perfect. So I've added some images of sites with what I deem a relatively good value proposition.
I encourage you to evaluate them and tell us why you think they're good value propositions! Leave your feedback in the comments!