Could a piece of online copy that takes about five seconds to read, make the difference between business success and failure? If the copy in question is your brand's value proposition, it’s a no-brainer: the answer is a very definite “Yes!”
To be fair, the very term “brand value proposition” smacks of the kind of mind-numbing ‘brand-o-babble’ we generally disapprove of here at We Make Websites. But since it’s out there as a commonly used business term, we’ll just crack on with defining what it is (and what it isn’t), and how to create one that makes your business stand out from the crowd.
You’ll be aware that you have competitors out there – brands with better name recognition, e-commerce sites with more customers and cheaper prices. Don’t throw in the towel and hide under the duvet.
These competitors didn’t get where they are because the tea leaves in their cups guaranteed good fortune. Their ongoing success owes nothing to luck; they got where they are, not simply through the quality of their products or services, but through the impact of their brand value proposition.
We’ll show you how to define yours in this article.
Just what is it that makes you valuable?
Here’s a simple but blunt fact: if people don’t understand why they should pay attention to your online offerings, they’re not going to buy stuff from you. And you get them to pay attention, first and foremost, with a strong brand value proposition that makes it perfectly clear what, exactly, makes you valuable.
Now we’re getting closer to a practical definition. Here it comes. Your brand value proposition is a plausible, easy-to-read set of reasons for (a) why people should pay attention to you and (b) why they should buy from you.
That’s the positive definition. Now for a few negatives – what brand value propositions aren’t, and shouldn’t be confused with.
The most effective propositions are allergic to brand-o-babble. They never use in-house marketing jargon. Here’s an especially bad example, which could have been lifted from an essay by someone who doesn’t have a real clue about marketing (by ConversionXL.com founder, Peep Laja, a veteran conversion optimisation expert, as an example of how not to do it):
“Revenue-focused marketing automation & sales effectiveness solutions unleash collaboration throughout the revenue cycle.”
If you use language like that, you’re going to bore potential customers into an indifferent stupor; they’re going to go elsewhere, clueless as to what you’re really offering.
Brand value propositions shouldn’t be confused with catch phrases or slogans like L’Oréal’s “Because we’re worth it.” Nor should they be confused with positioning statements like "The UK’s #1 Bandage Brand. Heals the wound fast, heals the hurt faster”. A positioning statement is a subdivision of a value proposition, yet it's not the same thing.
The right language: intelligent, lively and unfussy
Don’t think you can persuade people by using technical marketing vocab, because most of them will think it’s meaningless. Your brand value proposition has to be couched in terms they relate to, using words they already use. You’re seeking to join a conversation that’s already taking place in their minds, and if you try to do that with obscure incantations from marketing texts, you might as well talk to them in ancient Greenlandic Norse.
You can’t simply guess what that language is. You have to discover it. Do your social media research, and try interviewing your customers! It has to be engaging, it has to enthusiastic, it has to be unfussy and it has to be specific.
If you say “My t-shirts are the best in the world”, would you expect a flood of purchases? Of course not. No one’s going to believe it. Back up any claim with proof, or you’re just muttering banalities into the wind. Use testimonials and studies to add ballast to your assertions.
Project management site Basecamp, for example, makes an apparently sweeping claim: “World’s #1 Project Management App.” But it lends credence to it by backing it up with specific numbers (“6,323 companies” and “97% recommend.”)
Active Hound also does this too, by stating: “We’re the world’s No.1 stocklist of Chuckit! Dog toys. We made our name specialising in importing every dog toy Chuckit! Ever made into the UK as the Chuckit! Ultra Balls and the Kick Fetch.” However, this is backed up by their incredible 9.9 rating on Trustpilot and whopping 750+ reviews.
The structure of a great brand value proposition
Let’s stay with Peep Laja a little longer, because he spells this out in the clearest, actionable terms in the following formula:
Headline: What is the end-benefit you’re offering, in 1 short sentence. Can mention the product and/or the customer. Attention grabber.
Sub-headline or a 2-3 sentence paragraph: A specific explanation of what you do/offer, for whom and why is it useful.
3 bullet points: List the key benefits or features.
Visual: Images communicate much faster than words. Show the product, the hero shot or an image reinforcing your main message.
You’re seeking to answer four fundamental questions:
- What are you selling?
- What’s the benefit of purchasing it?
- Who is your target customer?
- What makes your offering unique?
Brands that are DEFINITELY getting it right
Nasty Gal: to put it shortly: we want you to wear us, not vice versa.
‘Nasty Gal’ - Two words and you know exactly what the brand is, unique clothes that cut through the noise currently in fashion. Nasty Gal tells you the exact benefit you will get by wearing their threads. Honestly, how much do we all hate turning up in the same outfit as your friend, thoughts of social suicide come to mind? Nasty Girl knows this and wants to help their customers have unique, affordable pieces all year round.
- Very clear of what they sell (clothes) and who they sell to (women)
- Specific campaign images, clever tie into TOV
- Key navigations above the fold
- Key suggestions above the fold
- Relevant branded images
- Clean, simple, inspiring
P&Co: Hand crafted leather goods.
P&Co is the best example of keeping it simple and on trend with the hipster types. They have a unique target market, direct knowledge on quality leather goods and provide a unique brand value proposition. One of the ways they have been successful is by having a specific cult following and defining their identity from the get go. Customers who follow them, want quality not quantity and every visual to action demonstrates this clearly.
- Very clear of what they sell (leather goods and accessories) and who they sell to (25-35yr old males)
- Specific banners advertising deals - Code noted to
- Relevant branded images
- Key actionables above the fold
- Key ‘Seasonal’ suggestions above the fold
- Relevant storytelling throughout
Once you have your brand value proposition sorted out, you definitely need to test your out what you have come up with!
Is very simple, easy to do and vital when figuring out what works and what doesn’t. You simply design two (A&B) or more candidates (depending on your particular traffic flow), separate the traffic between the subjects; run, test, look at the results, then choose the one that gives you maximum conversions.
PPC (Pay Per Click)
In a PPC situation, the advertiser only pays when there are qualifying clicks to the landing page, the rate per click is prearranged. PPC is a great way to again test out what works and what doesn’t, popular PPC advertising options include per-click advertising networks, search engines, and affiliate programs, however for this instance, a cost efficient way is to use Google AdWords or Facebook Ads. Essentially it is the same flow you do in the A/B testing area; split candidates into two groups with slightly different value propositions, however, you are still targeting the same customer. The ad that gains the most conversions, is your winner.
A brand value proposition is a foundation on which the business is based on, it represents the benefits and values your company promises to deliver to its customers. Once you have your final brand value proposition in place, you can start to use it throughout your marketing campaigns so that customers understand the benefit that you can deliver to them.
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