The practical, no-hype answer to
How to Make All Your Marketing as Effective as it Can Be
and clearly stand out from your competition with value proposition marketing
What makes marketing work?
That’s actually an easy question to answer.
Marketing should persuade people to buy what you sell. And—assuming you won’t hold a gun to their heads—the best way to persuade people to buy is to give them great reasons to do it.
That’s it. The better the reasons you give, the more likely people are to buy.
When you give the best reasons to buy your products and services, people are likely to buy from you because nobody gives better reasons than you do.
Those best reasons are your value proposition. And “value proposition marketing” means focusing your marketing on those key persuasive ideas.
You’d expect every marketing training and coach to teach how to develop your value proposition because, if you don’t know it, all the tricks and tactics in the world can’t create remarkable results. You’ll spend weeks and months trying to grow your business and stressing over all the work you need to do, but progress will be very slow.
But most marketing trainings only scratch the surface with a question like, “What are your customers’ biggest problems?”
I’ve focused on value proposition development and marketing for years. But I haven’t met anyone else who does the same, and I haven’t found a single book that explains the process adequately. The only training on the subject I’ve seen is exceedingly technical and impractical (and incomplete, too).
I can’t explain it. Developing a value proposition is complicated, yes. But it’s the core element of any successful business, and it’s not so hard you couldn’t do it with the right instructions.
The underlying belief about marketing—even among many marketing professionals—is that it has to be manipulative and misleading to create the most sales. And I guess that guides how marketing is taught.
But it’s a lie. Honest marketing—even helpful marketing—consistently creates the most sales, the happiest customers, and the highest level of success for any business. Despite what you might have heard, you can be totally honest and, at the same time, achieve goals that you might never have thought possible.
Why honesty makes marketing easier and more effective
If your ethics bend that way, you can just make stuff up. Just tell people whatever lies or half-truths you think will persuade them. If you’re okay with that, I can’t help you.
But if you want to be honest instead of misleading and manipulative, you can stick to your values and build a profitable, reliable business without relying on dishonesty.
It’s far easier to ask people to believe something that’s actually true. And that’s important in marketing; people won’t automatically believe you. As soon as they realize you’re selling something, they put their skepticism walls up and scrutinize everything you say.
And they should. Many marketing professionals doubt that people would buy their products if they told the truth. So, they rely on bloated and misleading promises. Doubting those claims is just smart.
But the more people doubt your claims, the less likely they are to buy. So, when you’re honest and just point out the best reasons for them to buy, you have a much better chance of making plenty of sales. And you don’t have to worry, either, about getting caught in a lie.
Why a clear value proposition cuts away marketing confusion
When you’re doing any kind of marketing—from blogging and social media to PPC ads and partnerships—your job is to persuade people and move them closer to buying.
But if you don’t have a clear value proposition, you’ll have a lot of guessing to do. What concepts and ideas should you communicate in your marketing material? Without a clear value proposition, you’re constantly starting from a blank slate trying to come up with some idea or message that will persuade people. It’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed when you have endless options to choose from.
But when you have a clear value proposition, you’ll look at it every single time you’re working on your marketing so you can focus on the top ideas. And every time, your marketing will feature the key ideas that bring people closer to buying.
And you can kiss guessing and confusion good-bye.
Even if you don’t pick the best marketing tactic, you’ll still get results. A better tactic can improve results, that’s true. But most of your results rely on presenting your most persuasive ideas—your value proposition—not on the method.
How less marketing can create more results
Many people see marketing as a numbers game: the more you do, the more results you get. They spend hours deep into the night writing blog posts, sharing in social media, creating email sequences, and designing new advertisements.
You’d think all that effort would result in big sales and high profits. But intensive marketing doesn’t equal sales.
If you give people poor reasons to buy, they don’t even notice. And giving more poor reasons doesn’t change anything no matter how hard you work.
One mediocre reason to buy is worth a dozen poor reasons. One good reason to buy is worth a dozen mediocre reasons.
But the best reasons are worth more than all the good, mediocre, and poor ones combined.
It might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but the best few reasons for people to buy your product or service are more persuasive than all the other reasons put together. Each of the best ideas alone is enough to make people really want what you sell.
If you don’t know those best reasons, the numbers game is rigged against you. It leads to random results; one marketing campaign and some luck might create some success, but the next 17 campaigns will fail.
If you view marketing as a numbers game, growing your business will be tough and disheartening because nothing you do creates the results you work so hard for. And working even harder will just create more stress and more disappointment.
Why you don’t need to think about branding
Value proposition marketing isn’t typical “branding.” But it works better as branding than any of the usual branding tactics. That’s especially true when you don’t have millions to burn on Super Bowl ads.
To be fair, branding advertising does make sense for a few types of companies. But even some of the biggest companies seem clueless about why people want to buy their products.
The problem isn’t just the beliefs about branding. The problem is the way almost all ad agencies work and the way they’re selected. Even if you don’t want to hire an ad agency, you might fall into the same trap as they do.
The cleverest, funniest, and the most novel advertisement isn’t necessarily the best or most successful ad. It might not even be good. But ad agencies often have to compete for clients by coming up with clever, amusing, or highly creative ad ideas.
Clever ads can work. But they only work when they give people a darn good reason to buy. The cleverness is just a bonus.
As long as you remember that, your marketing will attract people and persuade them to buy.
But you do need to stand out from your competition even if you never think about branding. If you don’t stand out, people won’t even notice you let alone buy from you.
What makes some companies stand out and how you can do it too
The main reason value proposition marketing attracts so many customers is that you stand out from the competition in a positive way. You make a memorable and favorable impression with all your marketing.
People remember you when you’re meaningfully different.
In other words, when your marketing shows how you differ from the rest of the pack, people will notice you, pay attention to you, and remember you.
But all that happens only if the difference is truly meaningful to your customers.
For example, maybe your favorite clothing store only sells clothes made from fair-trade cotton. That’s unusual enough to make them stand out from the competition. But unless they make an effort to attract ethically minded customers who are interested in fair-trade clothing, it won’t make much of a difference in their bottom line.
The best reasons to buy from you and your company are, by definition, qualities that differentiate you from your competitors in a meaningful way. They’re the details that people remember when they’re ready to buy.
And you can’t overestimate how important it is to stand out clearly from your competition. If you don’t, people won’t pay attention to any of your marketing.
How to create your value proposition
If your business isn’t doing as well as you think it should, the problem is likely the lack of a clear, strong value proposition. How do I know that? It’s simple. If your marketing makes people see and believe great reasons to buy what you sell, they’ll almost certainly do it.
Over the past several years, I’ve focused solely on developing value propositions for my clients. But I’ve had periods as long as eight months when I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to take on new clients. I have only so much time in a day to help people individually.
So I spent more than a year planning a training that walks people like you through the process. It’s ready now, but before we get into the details of the Craft Your Value Proposition training, let’s look at the steps of creating a clear, strong value proposition for your business.
But going through the steps without something to relate them to would be impractical, so let’s first get to know Jane.
Jane the Event Planner
Jane helps her clients create incredible events from children’s birthday parties to corporate conferences.
She’s passionate about her work. She’s great at what she does. Her prices are lower than her competitors’. And all her clients have loved the events she’s planned.
But her business creates more stress than profit. She’d prefer not to admit it, but most days she worries about how to get more customers so she could support her family the way she’d want to.
Even though she doesn’t have many customers, she works all the time. She knows she should spend more time with her family, but she feels like she can’t relax until things turn for the better.
Her problem isn’t lack of trying or lack of marketing effort; she’s active in social media, writes a regular blog post, attends networking events, and spends hundreds of dollars on advertising every month.
But even when people contact her and seem interested to hire her, they often back out at the last moment.
So, what happens when she crafts a strong value proposition for her business?
1. Develop your target customer
“Target customer” is one of those marketing terms people often use without really thinking what they mean by it. To be fair, the term does have a few different meanings.
When you create your value proposition, target customer describes the kinds of people your value proposition is designed to persuade. And if you haven’t identified all the essential aspects of your target customer, you can’t craft a strong value proposition.
Ideally, you can narrow your field of target customers to your ideal customer. In other words, you can focus your marketing on attracting the kinds of customers you’re most eager to have.
So, Jane realizes what kind of people she wants to and can help the most, so she doesn’t need to try to persuade everyone.
She finds out what those people really want from her, so she can make her services exactly what they want.
She understands why they might be hesitant to hire an event planner, so she can address those objections when she talks with people.
She realizes that she was attracting different people than she wanted to attract.
Craft Your Value Proposition training walks you through the nine steps of developing your target customer.
The steps help you uncover their most relevant characteristics and opinions, the details that grab their attention, the problems they want you to solve, the key factors that make you stand out from the competition, and much more.
And to make sure everything is easy to follow, you’ll see the process from start to finish for three different kinds of business.
Video length: 1 hour 34 minutes
2. Analyze your competition
Your value proposition will position you above your competitors. It will make your target customers choose you over any alternatives they might have.
But that’s only possible if you’ve identified the most useful aspects concerning your competitors.
You need to fully understand not only your own but also your competition’s positive and negative qualities, their target customers’ challenges and problems compared to your target customers, and much more.
If you miss any of the key facets, you risk building a value proposition that has almost no chance to position you as the better choice. Or you might (almost certainly) miss some of the best opportunities for gaining an advantage.
Thanks to this step in the process, Jane realizes why her potential clients so often have hired other more expensive event planners, so she doesn’t have to keep her prices so low that she hardly makes any profit.
She understands what she needs to do differently to avoid her target customers’ main frustrations with event planners.
She sees why people didn’t care about what she said in her marketing.
She can make her services seem clearly better than other event planners.
In this section of the Craft Your Value Proposition training, you’ll identify all your competitors’ most important characteristics so you can find the best ways to be seen as a different, better choice.
Plus, you’ll see how you compare against all your competitors in a visual grid, which will help you choose the most effective ways to stand out.
And you’ll see the entire process done for three different kinds of businesses, so you don’t have to guess about anything.
Video length: 1 hour 25 minutes
3. Identify and improve your benefits
The key factors that make you a better choice compared to any alternative are an important building block for your value proposition.
But you aren’t just looking for benefits that make you better than your competitors. That’s a big mistake many marketers fall for.
Often the benefits that don’t seem to make you a better choice at first turn into highly persuasive ideas once you’ve thought through the whole value proposition development process.
When Jane finds the benefits people get from her, she realizes what people really want from her—benefits she hasn’t talked at all about in her marketing.
She finds the aspects of her business that mean the most to her potential customers—some of which she has never thought of as even noteworthy.
She understands what people want the most and are willing to pay the most for.
She recognizes what exactly she needs to do to make people believe she’s the best event planner for their event.
In the Craft Your Value Proposition training, you’ll find not only the benefits you have to offer, but you’ll also improve them so they become as persuasive as they can be.
You’ll use what you’ve learned about your target customers and competitors to turn even simple, common benefits into ideas that help you grow your business.
The whole process for three contrasting businesses with very different benefits is carried out as an example. Once you’ve seen the process from start to finish three times, you can look at your own business much more creatively.
Video length: 38 minutes
4. Identify and improve your differences
Since part of the goal is to stand out from the competition, you have to figure out what makes you different from your competitors.
You shouldn’t stop at the usual things like price, quality, and basic features. You should dig much deeper.
Often you can identify the most useful differentiating factors only after going through the previous steps of the value proposition development process.
And improving the differences plays at least an equally important role when you want to create something that will make a real difference to how quickly your business grows.
After this step, Jane can easily see why people haven’t cared about the things she knows she does exceptionally well.
She finds the aspects of her that make people remember her immediately when they want to hire an event planner.
She recognizes what she needs to tell people to make them understand how different she is compared to her competitors.
The Craft Your Value Proposition training walks you through the process of finding, ranking, and improving your differentiating aspects. And you’ll see the whole process done for three businesses, so you don’t have to guess how any of the steps work.
You’ll also learn what competitor groups you should compare your business to so your evaluation leads to the most effective differentiating aspects.
Video length: 34 minutes
5. Make your claims believable
If people don’t believe the things you say in your marketing, they won’t buy. It’s that simple. They won’t even join your email list.
But even though lack of believability completely nullifies your marketing, almost all marketing trainings glance over the whole topic. Sure, they might mention that “testimonials are good,” and testimonials do help with your believability. But they’re not enough. And they’re not enough to make people pull out a credit card.
You have to find the simplest yet absolutely true and believable way to present all the best reasons to buy from you. If you don’t use the right kind of proof for each idea and people get the chance to doubt something you say, all your marketing loses its effect because, suddenly, everything you claim is suspected to be a half-truth, at best.
Thanks to this step, Jane realizes why people haven’t believed that she can make their events incredible or even better than they can do on their own.
She understands why she’s had such a hard time making people hire her even if they’ve sounded very interested in her services.
She finds the clear changes she can make in her marketing so people will trust her with their events.
She notices the one claim she made in her marketing that made people doubt everything she told them.
You’ll learn the five key ways to prove all your marketing claims in the Craft Your Value Proposition training. And you’ll see how they’re used to prove the claims of three different businesses so you can integrate the techniques into your business easily.
Video length: 32 minutes
6. Put your value proposition together
The last step of the value proposition development process is combining the ideas you’ve identified earlier. It’s about transforming many separate concepts into one cohesive whole.
Without this step, the process results in little more than a disorganized collection of ideas that might have the potential to change your business.
When you craft your value proposition, you’ll understand why it makes creating effective marketing so much easier and faster: you’ll have a clear, simple list of the key ideas you need to communicate, you’ll know how to present them, you’ll know the order in which to tackle them, and you’ll know how to make them believable.
The next time you’re marketing your business, you’ll easily communicate the best reasons for your target customers to pay attention to you and buy from you. No more guessing and crossing fingers hoping you said the right things.
When Jane puts together her value proposition, she recognizes the most persuasive reasons for people to hire her.
She then knows what simple, clear ideas she needs to convey to make people yearn to buy her services.
She understands why she could’ve spent countless hours over weeks and months on marketing without seeing any better results.
She realizes the few changes she needs to make to her advertising to create sales instead of losing money.
Finally, the Craft Your Value Proposition training shows you the three best formats for a value proposition so it’s as easy to use as possible. You can pick the format that will help you the most when you’re marketing your business.
Video length: 23 minutes
How to use your value proposition in your marketing
If a potential customer visited your website right now, would they immediately understand the best reasons to buy or to even pay attention? When you’ve created your value proposition, you can easily use your website to convey the primary reasons visitors should stick around.
The same goes for your advertisements, landing pages, freebies, emails, and even face-to-face meetings.
Doing any kind of marketing is much easier (and creates much better results) when you know and understand the specific ideas you need to get results.
And it really is that simple. When you know your value proposition, you should incorporate it in all your marketing. Why? Because it encompasses all the concepts that are most likely to persuade people. Why would you want to market a product or service that doesn’t feature them? Not using your value proposition is costly, it wastes time, and it doesn’t help you reach your goals.
Craft Your Value Proposition would be just another incomplete marketing training if it didn’t actually teach you how to use your value proposition in marketing.
To that end, you’ll learn how a homepage, a video, and even a simple call to action can communicate a value proposition and increase your sales dramatically.
Video length: 23 minutes
Why you should test your value proposition
In the end, if you want to be 100% sure you’ve got things just right, you need to do some testing. You’ll usually get 90% of the way there when you follow the process in the Craft Your Value Proposition training, but improving your value proposition by an additional 10% is always a nice bonus.
There are many methods, from simple to technical, to test your value proposition. You’ll learn three of the best methods in the Craft Your Value Proposition training.
The easiest method is so simple that as long as you know how to make basic changes to your website, you can use it to improve your value proposition even further.
By the way, when you test your value proposition, you leave not only your competitors but also most of the world’s largest companies behind. How? It’s simple: almost none of them test their value propositions. They might test which of the 25 shades of green is the best button color, but they don’t test the best reasons for people to buy from them.
So, even if you have serious, established competition, odds are you can gain a clear edge by running some basic tests. And most of your competitors don’t have a clue about their value proposition, so even if you don’t do any testing, you’re still likely to gain a sizable advantage.
The three kinds of value propositions
So far I’ve only talked about “business value propositions.” These are the best reasons for people to pay attention to your business and buy from you.
But your products and services have value propositions too. These value propositions hold the best reasons for people to buy that specific product.
And then there are “action value propositions.” They describe the best reasons for people to take a specific action (e.g., click your ad or call you to schedule a consultation).
Product value propositions make marketing (especially for new products) much, much easier. You don’t have to guess what to say in an email or what to write in a sales letter or an advertisement.
Action value propositions, on the other hand, can help you create massive improvements in your conversion rates (both off and online).
The benefit to you is that very few businesses understand the most persuasive reasons for their target customers to take a specific action. So, being the one person in your field who does understand it can make your business grow much faster than it otherwise could. (The conversion rate improvements that come from making simple actions more persuasive are sometimes so big I can’t mention them here—you’d think they’re exaggerations or mistakes.)
The Craft Your Value Proposition training shows you how to create both product and action value propositions in addition to your main business value proposition. The process is very similar, but you’ll learn the key differences so you don’t have to worry about making some small but significant mistake.
About impractical trainings
The Craft Your Value Proposition training is practical.
And I know almost every marketing training is promoted as “practical.” But if you’ve ever taken one, you probably know why I think calling them “practical” takes some creative use of the word.
If a training is impractical, it shouldn’t even be sold.
So, what makes this training practical?
The training is presented in seven lessons:
- Develop your target customers
- Analyze your competition
- Identify and improve your benefits
- Identify and improve your differences
- Make your claims believable
- Put your value proposition together
- Use your value proposition in your marketing and test it
The core of each lesson is a video that explains the principles and steps to take and walks you through three examples in detail.
The first example is used to illustrate the steps and principles in the beginning of the video. The last two are explained more briefly because the principles were already covered with the first example, and if you understood the principles and steps during the first example, you can skip over the additional examples.
The example value propositions are developed from start to finish—you’ll see the entire process done for all three businesses:
- A local service business (a yoga studio)
- A local store with an online store (an indoor-gardening store)
- An online information business (a health coach with information products)
After watching the video, you can download the lesson slides, the PDF versions of all the examples, and a worksheet (in PDF, Word, and Pages formats) that guides you through the process.
You get instant access to all the lessons including the videos, slides, PDFs, and worksheets so you can work through the process at your own pace.
Plus, since you work through a small part of the process right after seeing detailed examples, you’re much less likely to get stuck on anything.
And if you ever have a question you can’t figure out, I’m always happy to help.
If you have a question, I’ll answer it
If you don’t understand something or you feel that something is missing from the lessons, just email me. If your question and my response is helpful to others, I’ll add it to the related lesson. And that means you’ll benefit from other people’s questions, too.
If you think the training wasn’t what was promised, you get your money back. It’s that simple. For accounting reasons, however, I do have a 365-day time limit. But you can get your value proposition ready in a few days.
What you can realistically expect
You might expect some claim that at least stretches the truth. But I don’t think that’s necessary. If you don’t already have a strong value proposition, you probably know what having one could be worth.
You’ll create a clear, strong value proposition for your business during the training (and learn how to create value propositions for your products and even individual actions).
It will give you the best chance of persuading people to buy what you sell. But only you know what that’s really worth to you.
Maybe it’s the extra money you’ll make. Or the time you can take off to spend with your family and hobbies. Or the feeling of being in control of your business’s success.
In addition to learning how to create a strong value proposition, you’ll also learn a couple of other important lessons along the way.
Understanding how to create and use value propositions is the best copywriting and conversion rate optimization training you can get. Nothing impacts the effectiveness of your copy or your conversion rates as much as your value proposition.
Simply put, what you can realistically expect is that all your marketing will make you stand out from your competition and create more sales. You’ll be able to cut marketing costs and time, and you’ll find that marketing gets much easier, too. Plus, you’ll attract your ideal customers instead of the kinds you’re not so interested in.
Craft Your Value Proposition
Stand out from your competition and make your marketing create the best results.
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Your marketing results depend on the reasons you give people to buy what you sell. If you give them poor reasons, they won’t buy. If you give them great reasons, they’re happy to buy. It’s that simple.
And, when you know the best reasons for people to buy your products or services, you can focus your marketing on communicating those reasons. Your marketing will finally be as persuasive as it can be.
A clear, strong value proposition makes growing your business much faster and easier because you don’t have to guess what to say in your marketing to persuade people.
The Craft Your Value Proposition training walks you through the exact steps you can follow to build your value proposition. By the end of the training, your value proposition will be ready.