We’ve all heard variations of the question. What problem do you solve? Why should I buy from you? If you sell a product or service, you’d better have a great answer if you hope to get and keep customers.
Just as you wouldn’t jump into a pool headfirst without checking the depth, you wouldn’t spend thousands of dollars or more without first answering that all-important question. Not doing so can have dire consequences for your end result.
Before we begin, I would recommend you read our post on customer persona, as it is directly relevant to this article.
What is a CVP?
Corporations spend millions researching the values that customers perceive of their products and brand.
A CVP, or Customer Value Proposition, is an exclusive selling point that differentiates a product or service from the competition and illustrates your value to the customer.
It’s important to note that the CVP does not come from the company, but from the customers.
When do you need a CVP?
It’s always a good idea to take a long, hard look at the value you are providing to your customers. But it’s especially crucial if you are:
- Introducing a new product to the market
- Need to teach people about your product or service
- In a competive space
While it’s generally useful to understand the unique value you provide, it may not be as critical if:
- Your product or service is largely the same as everyone else’s
- You don’t own your brand (i.e. an affiliate marketer or franchisee)
So, what makes a good value proposition?
A good value proposition is about connecting with the needs of the customer. There is a famous sales program called the Sandler Selling System. It teaches an excellent lesson on identifying the needs of your sales prospect, drilling down to the core need that impacts the customer the most personally, and then offering a solution for that.
The 3 types of needs are:
The most surface level of need is technical need. This is usually the problem you think you’re solving. You may be addressing efficiency issues or staffing issues, and while technically accurate, it’s not really impactful in a way that will drive prospects to take action when engaging with your marketing materials.
Often, technical needs will impact the financials of a customer. This may or may not apply to all types of products or customers, but is very applicable in the B2B space.
Finally, if you dig even deeper, you may be able to identify the core emotional problem a sales prospect is experiencing.
So, as an example, you, the customer are experiencing high employee turnover.
I have invented a widget that makes your employee training 25% faster. I have solved a technical pain. The speed of onboarding means you keep your most valuable staff working on important projects rather than onboarding, reducing the need for overtime and weekend work. Financial pain solved.
Finally, the improved work-life balance of a more efficient workforce will improve employee satisfaction and retention. Emotional need solved.
Examples of Strong CVPs
We can explore a few landing pages to get an idea of how to create a solid, emotionally impactful value proposition.
Squarespace is a content management system, a website builder, and a hosting platform, that touts its affordability. It bases its marketing materials on pillars that make it easy to sell to its target customer.
Squarespace puts its free trial front and center for its customers. Their placement of this core proposition can be found across its social, advertising, and website.
Not only does Squarespace focus on just the cost of their main service, their value-added services also help them promote their CVP. For example, Squarespace also offers a free domain for a year, unlimited bandwidth, free stock photos, and free tech support.
When you think about these for a second, some of these aren’t even that unique. Tech support is almost always free, unless you’re asking for something more advanced, but because Squarespace is focusing on the low cost of its services, it falls right in line.
How to find your CVP
While most startups start with the solution or the benefits that they provide, it’s a good idea to start with what you know about your customer and then deduce the problems from there. Using the Lean Startup approach, you can also write down all of the problems you think your core customer has that you believe you can solve.
Understanding the needs of your customer is going to be a key aspect of connecting with them. You also want to start from the point of view of the customer and not your business.
Then you want to make sure to validate the assumptions that you are making to ensure that your hypothesis is valid.
Once you have written a solid CVP, you will be ready to write your marketing materials and create keywords that will drive traffic through searches across the digital landscape.