What is a Value Proposition and How to Identify Yours (With 5 Examples)

As a business, particularly one specializing in retail, sales, or other forms of B2B services, developing your unique value proposition is the first step to establishing reasons for how and why your customers should choose you. This understanding is essential in strengthening your overall business model.

Discovering and discerning what motivates your customers to choose you, above all other similar businesses, is critical in leveraging your selling position to other consumers. But how can you ensure your products and brand reflect your unique position in the market? 

Simple – by understanding your value proposition.

In this article, we’ll be discussing what exactly a value proposition is, how you can leverage this selling position for your own business and some excellent real-world examples of successful value propositions from top companies.

What is a Value Proposition? – The Why Behind the Buy

value proposition definition

Your value proposition is the overall value you provide to clients after they make a purchase. This value is ultimately what makes your product attractive to potential consumers. 

A successful value proposition is comprised of three critical factors:

  1. It is specific. What is the particular value and benefits that your customers will receive by purchasing your products?
  2. It’s solution orientated. What is the specific pain point in your customer’s life or experience? How will your product alleviate those challenges and/or improve their life?
  3. It creates a sense of exclusivity. How do you effectively market your products to make them desirable and exclusive? What do you do to create a competitive advantage that sets your business apart from other competitors in your industry or market?

While value proposition is a crucial element of a comprehensive marketing strategy, it shouldn’t be confused with specific marketing tactics. Brand slogans, catchphrases, copy or even branding are not value propositions. Instead, they are elements that should serve to amplify your value propositions.

So, what exactly is a value proposition? A value proposition is very rarely your product in itself or its specific features. Your value proposition is how you represent your products as a solution to your customers’ problems and pain points. 

In addition to solving a problem, your value proposition should also position your products in a way that improves your customer’ lives and how it makes them feel. 

In some industries, a value proposition is easy to identify. However, in others, it requires more refining and deliberate work to differentiate yourself within the market.

Essentially, in order for your value proposition to be compelling and successful, you need to exclaim it loud and proud! Your value proposition should be front and center on your website – or other retail space – to drive conversions and attract new customers in high purchase intent areas.

Value Proposition vs Unique Selling Proposition – What’s the Difference?

It’s easy to become confused between similar-sounding terms, value proposition and unique selling proposition. Put simply, a unique selling proposition (USP) is a component of your company’s overall value proposition. 

In other words, the USP outlines your position in the market to the extent that it answers the question – what sets you apart from your competitors that would make me want to do business with you, specifically? 

A Unique Selling Proposition is an element that makes your business stand out from the competition. Learn more about What is a Unique Selling Proposition & How Can it Benefit Your Business?”

The goal of a unique selling proposition is to highlight your business’s “x-factor.” This key selling point should immediately demonstrate to potential customers and clients why your company has the best offering out there and why they should choose you over your competitors

Your unique selling proposition doesn’t necessarily have to focus entirely on your specific product or service either. It can also highlight broader aspects of your business that make it superior, including better customer service, increased convenience, customization options, and more. 

In this way, while the USP focuses solely on establishing the advantages of your business against competitors, your value proposition focuses on how your customers’ lives will be improved by choosing to go with your business. 

Essentially, where USP centers on describing what makes your business unique to your target market, your value proposition addresses why your customers should care about this difference.

How to Identify Your Value Proposition

how to identify value proposition

A solid value proposition doesn’t happen by accident. It’s made through strategic and thoughtful work that spans across and incorporates all elements of your business. 

From marketing to product design and production, your value proposition should be the driving force that helps create a consistent brand experience and high customer conversion rate. 

When looking to refine and identify your business’s unique value proposition, it is essential to ask yourself these critical questions:

  • What product and services are you selling?
  • Who is your target audience? What type of customer do you want to appeal to the most?
  • How will purchasing your product or service, specifically, solve a problem for your customers or improve their life?
  • Why should customers buy from you and not your competitors?
  • How and when do you provide value to your customers?

A value proposition should be a short blurb, two to three sentences maximum, with each word intentionally chosen to give your value proposition purpose. 

In this way, your value proposition should be compelling, concise and clear.

A company’s value proposition is often tied to its brand philosophy. Here are 10 Brand Philosophy Examples to Align Your Company Culture.”

4 Vital Types of Value Propositions

In retail and eCommerce, there is no one perfect type of value proposition. 

How you position your brand, products, or service depends significantly on the strategy behind your value proposition. Ultimately, it comes down to what you want customers to feel when engaging with your business. 

Above all else, successful value propositions should aim to answer one simple question: what can I do better than anyone else? 

Maybe it is your product quality, your customer service or even your price and design. Whatever your value proposition is, it should guide all the work that you do.

There are four primary types of value propositions, including:

Your Company Value Proposition

First and foremost, it is essential to differentiate between your company’s value proposition from your products’ value proposition. 

Your company or brand value proposition is centred around your brand’s fundamental values and what sets your company apart from competitors. These core values should be at the forefront of everything you do to create a strong brand.

Your Homepage Value Proposition

This example is often the value proposition that we are used to seeing on eCommerce sites and in retail stores. Your homepage value proposition should focus on communicating your value proposition in a way that makes consumers trust your messaging. 

In order to effectively communicate your value proposition, you should be able to capture your reader’s interest and provide clarity on your value within the first 11 seconds of them being on your website. 

Time is money, but it doesn’t have to be a lot of time! 

Your Category Value Propositions

Your category value proposition is the element that sets you apart from your competitors selling similar products or services in the same category. 

For example, if you are selling winter jackets, you can see what similar brands classify as their category value proposition through Search Engine Results Pages (called SERPs). From there, you can further refine the category pages on your website to ensure that your brand stands out from the rest.

Your Product Value Propositions

A product value proposition goes on your product pages and should be strategically placed to capture audience attention and encourage conversions. Of all your website pages, product pages are some of the most critical pages as they are high intent to purchase pages. 

Writing The Sales Funnel is the journey your customers takes before converting to purchasing a product. Find out the various stages in Why What is a Sales Funnel – What it is and How it Works.”

In other words, if your customers have made it this far, you are well on your way to making a sale and creating a new customer relationship. Think of it this way, your value proposition starts as a company value proposition and trickles throughout your sales funnel all the way to the product sales pages.

It is important to note that your company may have one or all of these different types of value propositions.

5 Unique Value Proposition Examples

Now that we’ve provided the theoretical background on what a value proposition is and why it’s a crucial instrument to drive your business’s success, let’s dive into some specific successful examples to provide some real-world context. 

Uber

Uber's value proposition is all stress-free, easy-to-use convenience at your fingertips. (Mike Dotta - Shutterstock)

Popular internationally-utilized ride-hailing company Uber is clever and calculated with how they communicate their value proposition. Without outwardly claiming the various disadvantages and inconveniences surrounding traditional taxi and public transportation services, it still manages to highlight why its service is superior. 

Instead of focusing on the negative or bashing their competition, Uber markets itself as a people-first service that centres on providing a heightened level of convenience through cars coming directly to customers and cashless payment methods. 

It also widely communicates how customer and driver safety is at the forefront of their business strategy and structure. Uber does this by having potential drivers undergo a thorough background check. 

In the same realm, customers are expected to adhere to specific requirements, such as wearing masks to adhere to strict COVID-19 guidelines, to ensure that everyone feels as comfortable as possible from pick up to drop off. 

Overall, Uber highlights a need – in this instance, hassle-free, convenient and timely transportation – and succinctly and clearly illustrates how it fills it.

Apple iPhone

how to write brand philosophies
Since the advent of the original iPhone, Apple has been pushing its brand philosophy and its product design to new heights. (https://www.apple.com/ca/)

There is arguably an overabundance of technology currently available to consumers in these modern times. Still, none have reached such a high level of notoriety as the Apple iPhone. 

Even with competitors such as Samsung, Sony and Google, the most iconic smartphone option available on the market remains this flagship device. So, what does Apple do, specifically, to set their products apart from the literal hundreds of others currently available for purchase?

Ultimately, the value proposition surrounding the iPhone is that the product is the experience. On top of being sleek and aesthetically pleasing, Apple’s value proposition is the concept of the iPhone itself. They focus on its ease of use and how it’s been the pillar of design since the company’s humble beginnings. 

Apple is more than aware that the market of smartphone devices is crowded and competitive. Thus, instead of focusing on one key feature to set it apart, Apple instead focuses on the bigger picture of how using an iPhone is an experience in itself. Whether it’s highlighting Face ID, fingerprint authentication, or the various other customizable features, using an iPhone is entirely tailored to the customer. 

This personalization is what the organization innately focuses on in its value proposition. 

WordPress

small-business-website-design-guide-and-tips
WordPress is a free website builder that has a variety of themes you can choose from. (https://wordpress.com/)

WordPress is an excellent example of how customization can be an incredibly effective tool for establishing your unique value proposition. 

WordPress is a free and open-source content management system that allows users to create anything from a personal blog to a comprehensive website for your business. 

The highlighted feature that makes this company’s value proposition unique is that, unlike other competing platforms, WordPress’s services are entirely free and purpose-built for personal sites and businesses. The benefits it highlights primarily focus on efficient, easy-to-use web hosting without the use of complicated jargon or complex issues. 

In this sense, you don’t need to have a Master’s degree in computer science or coding to use this platform and service effectively. It is targeted to users of all experience levels to create a clean-cut website for whatever specific purpose they see fit. 

Slack

work from home tools
Slack lets you communicate with your team without having to hold a meeting or bringing them into your office. (Slack.com)

Due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased number of individuals working from home, remote communication tools such as Slack have seen a massive uptick in usage. 

With an incredibly simple to navigate and easy-to-use interface, Slack’s value proposition lies in making workers’ lives easier, more efficient and more productive regardless of their geographic location. 

COVID-19 has caused a working from home structure to be less of a luxury and more of a necessity. Find out How Work from Home is Changing the World of Business.”  

One of the key elements that set this platform apart from competitors is the multiple integrations of apps that Slack has. The business markets itself as having “all your tools in one place,” playing up the fact that users can receive notifications from multiple apps directly within Slack to facilitate communications and workflow. 

However, this doesn’t mean that it’s cluttered or crowded either. Slack holds simplicity at the heart of its value proposition so that users can accomplish more and remain productive without having to worry about things getting lost in the shuffle. 

Skillshare

value proposition real world example
Skillshare makes it easy for anyone and everyone to learn something new. (https://www.skillshare.com/)

Due to the various restrictions and legislations enacted due to the consequences of COVID-19, people have had to become more creative in how they spend their time, with many seeking creative outlets or courses to help acquire and develop a new skill. 

One of the most widely utilized resources for creative courses is the online learning community, Skillshare. 

What’s advantageous about this particular value proposition is that it does not necessarily pigeonhole itself to a specific demographic or target audience. It’s much broader. Skillshare is available for anyone looking to learn new skills but who doesn’t want or isn’t able to venture to a physical location. 

The value proposition doesn’t solely focus on marketing a specific product either. The platform has a diverse catalogue of educational videos and courses that users can choose from to suit their particular needs. 

In other words, while the service is pretty cut and dry, the overall value proposition more so focuses on the importance of education and the pursuit of self-improvement, which is incredibly relatable. 

Another advantage of Skillshare is that users can learn a new, creative skill online at their own pace and in their own time, creating a heightened level of customizability that further contributes to a user-first experience.

Key Takeaways on Value Proposition

Remember: a value proposition is not something that happens by accident. It is strategically curated to help provide value to your customers and set your business apart. 

A value proposition isn’t a brand logo or hype. It is the essence of your value as a brand and what you can provide your customers, whether that be a solution to a pain point in their life or to help improve the quality of life. 

Creating a comprehensive value proposition is not only an exercise in branding. It is a promise to your future customers and clients. 

It should emulate through every aspect of your business to ensure that the primary focus is on what matters most – providing value and improvement to your customer’s lives and creating an enticing service that has them returning time and time again. 

Vincent Lee

Written By Vincent Lee

The Managing Editor at Advesa, Vincent is a mechanical keyboard enthusiast, a lover of cats, and a purveyor of fine roasted matcha teas. When not writing, he enjoys exercising and biking around his beautiful hometown of Vancouver. He is also a strong supporter of the oxford comma.