7 Proven Templates for Writing Value Propositions That Work

by tor on November 29, 2011

Value Proposition Examples and Templates

You already know that getting your value proposition right is critical to your business model. You can have the best features, the most perfectly executed presentation, the most stunning price, but no one will ever know of it if they don’t get past your high-level value proposition.

But how do you craft such a pitch?

Continuously looking to perfect your value proposition you’d consult lengthy articles only to find that there’s a jungle of advise out there. What you need are applicable examples from entrepreneurs and investors who have successfully given and taken thousands of pitches, right?

So I’ve put together 7 proven templates that are designed to help you create a clear, compelling value proposition in minutes.

#1 Geoff Moore’s Value Positioning Statement

Probably the most recognized one –  in his seminal book Crossing the Chasm – Geoff Moore suggests a specific template for creating your value positioning. In addition to the first part below, Moore also introduces a second statement focused on competitive positioning.

Template

For  ____________ (target customer)

who ____________  (statement of the need or opportunity)

our (product/service name) is  ____________  (product category)

that (statement of benefit) ____________ .

Sample(s)

For non-technical marketers

who struggle to find return on investment in social media

our product is a web-based analytics software that translates engagement metrics into actionable revenue metrics.

#2 Venture Hacks’ High-Concept Pitch

In Made to Stick, Dan and Chip Heath point to how high-concept pitches such as ‘Jaws on a spaceship’ (Alien) and ‘Die Hard on a bus’ (Speed) convince movie executives to invest vast sums of money in a project on the basis of almost no information.

In Pitching Hacks Nivi and Navel from Venture Hacks share examples of this technique applied to startups.

Template

[Proven industry example] for/of [new domain].

Sample(s)

Flickr for video.

Friendster for dogs.

The Firefox of media players.

#3 Steve Blank’s XYZ

Steve Blank writes that a Value Proposition is a ten-dollar phrase describing a company’s product or service. It’s the “what are you building and selling?” He suggests the following format for creating a value proposition statement that other people understand.

Template

“We help X do Y doing Z”.

Sample(s)

We help non-technical marketers discover return on investment in social media by turning engagement metrics into revenue metrics.

#4 Vlaskovits & Cooper’s CPS

In their Cheat Guide to Customer Development Cooper and Vlaskovits use what they call a Customer-Problem-Solution presentation.

Template

Customer: ____________ (who your customer is).

Problem: ____________(what problem you’re solving for the customer).

Solution: ____________ (what is your solution for the problem).  

Sample(s)

Customer: I believe my best customers are small and medium-sized business (SMB) markets.

Problem: Who cannot easily measure campaign ROI because existing solutions are too expensive, complicated to deploy, display a dizzying array of non-actionable charts.

Solution: Low cost, easy to deploy analytics system designed for non-technical marketers who need actionable metrics.

#5 Dave McClure’s Elevator Ride

In his How to Pitch a VC presentation Dave McClure presents a 3-step check list for creating positioning statements.

Template

  • Short, simple, memorable; what, how, why.
  • 3 keywords or phrases
  • KISS (no expert jargon)

Sample(s)

  • “Mint.com is the free, easy way to manage your money online.”

#6 David Cowan’s Pitchcraft

Although a more elaborative one David Cowan shares some useful guidelines in Practicing the Art of Pitchcraft. I’ve put together a summary.

Template

  1. Highlight the enormity of the problem you are tackling.
  2. Tell the audience up front what your company sells.
  3. Distill the differentiation down to one, easy-to-comprehend sentence.
  4. Establish credibility by sharing the pedigree of the entrepreneurs, customers, or the investors.

Sample(s)

One person dies of melanoma every 62 minutes.

We offer a dermatoscope app for iPhone that enables people to easily diagnose their skin,

leveraging patented pattern recognition technology trusted by the World Health Organization.

#7 Eric Sink’s Value Positioning

Eric Sink writes that marketing is somewhat like an iceberg – the part sticking out of the water is highly visible. For this Eric suggests the following format for positioning.

Template

Superlative (“why choose this product”).

Label (“what is this product”).

Qualifiers (“who should choose this product”).

Sample(s)

The easiest operating system for netbook PC’s.

The most secure payment gateway for mobile e-commerce.

Bonus: The VAD approach

In a previous blog post on value propositions I set out to learn from Guy Kawasaki. On his blog I found that Guy takes a verb-application-differentiator approach in describing the startups that he’s working with.

Template

[verb; application; differentiator]

Sample(s)

Share PowerPoint and Keynote slides including audio (Slideshare).

Create and write blogs via email (Posterous).

Make VOIP calls easily and cheaply (JaJah).

The bottom line

Dear child has many names; elevator speeches, high-concept pitches, value positioning, unique selling proposition, positioning statement etc. The Value Proposition is not only about telling people about your product. It’s also an important technique for describing your Minimum Viable Product and testing what product or features to build.

Whether you’re battling investors in the elevator, optimizing conversion rates on your website, or boosting PR, crafting a clear, compelling value proposition is not easy. It takes trial and error.

But the take-away is worth it as you will start getting meetings and converting more customers. What is your value proposition example? What template do you prefer?

You should follow me on Twitter here.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

stef January 19, 2012 at 7:23 pm

This is an incredibly helpful round-up! Thanks so much for writing it.

Reply

tor February 1, 2012 at 9:39 am

Thx Stef. Glad you like it.

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phoenixstar9 February 1, 2012 at 4:23 am

I just pulled off at least 4 Value Propositions using a few of the methods. It made it applicable to my industry with the templates provided. Thank you!

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tor February 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

Happy to hear that, thanks. What templates do you use?

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ManolisPapidakis February 2, 2012 at 8:46 am

Thanks !Very good work .Love it and use it

Reply

Raomal Perera May 26, 2012 at 11:58 am

This is a great blog! Thanks Tor!

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tor May 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Thanks Raomal. Looking forward to catch up in Dublin.

Reply

Beatrice May 30, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Thank you! This is the practical help I needed in leading my team to rework our UVP.

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tor May 30, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Glad to hear that, Beatrice. Feel free to share your UVP for common learning.

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Ramiya August 15, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Super clear approaches….

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Ramiya August 15, 2012 at 7:01 pm

The approaches here are so clear…very well written.

Thanks a ton!!!

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Nicole August 21, 2012 at 7:33 am

Lots of theory on the web, but nothing to help with actually doing something with it. Great help, thanks.

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tor December 13, 2012 at 12:54 am

Thank you, Nicole. I’m glad you like it.

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amy September 8, 2012 at 4:38 am

Hi Tor,
Its awesome post!! This will be more helpful in my organisation. I love to use these.

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tor December 13, 2012 at 12:52 am

Hi Amy. Happy to hear that I can help. Thanks.

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Larry December 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Well written! I never readed this kind of useful information in my life. Thank for sharing with us Tor.

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tor December 13, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Many thanks, Larry. Feel free to share your VP’s for feedback.

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mikraj December 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm

woah…this is awesome!!! really helpful especially for students like me. i can now use this for my project.

Reply

tor December 20, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Hey, glad you like it.

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Helene January 2, 2013 at 10:20 am

Really good article. Working on our strategy and business model and this article was really helpful in identifying our strong points from a customer’s point of view and will hopefully help us communicating these better in the future. H

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tor January 2, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Happy to hear it could help. Best of luck on your business model. Feel free to tune in again and share your experiences.

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sivikoo February 15, 2013 at 9:32 am

Great tips. Useful for expressing my company’s value proposition in different angle.

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tor February 15, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Happy to hear that you like it :) Thanks.

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Ryan - Stealth Interactive May 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Great post Tor,

I bookmarked this page and will use a few of your templates to make great VP’s for our clients.

Thank you very much.

- Ryan

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tor May 4, 2013 at 8:38 am

Thanks, Ryan. Happy to hear you find’em useful.

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Orlando airport shuttle June 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a
amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you!
By the way, how could we communicate?

Reply

tor June 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Thank you for the feedback. Feel free to ping me on Twitter @tor and we’d take it from there. Cheers.

Reply

Kat July 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

I was actually writing to see if there’s anyone who could possibly give me a hand in putting a business proposal together for a good cause. I am completely out of my own field but would greatly appreciate any help given. Thanks to all

Kadia

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Joakim August 28, 2013 at 7:10 am

Thanks for valuable input.
We are just starting up our company and this is valuable for us learning how to communicate in the best way.

Reply

Charles Cuninghame October 24, 2013 at 6:05 am

Tor, I just wanted to say thanks for this. It’s the best, most succinct, and useful guide to writing a better value proposition I’ve ever seen. I think it’s essential reading for all business owners, entrepreneurs and marketing professionals.

Reply

Pranav November 19, 2013 at 7:58 am

Thank you this is really useful!

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Razakarivony Benjamin November 19, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Very valuable post.
A value proposition is not for products or services only. In the same manner you can create what is called Professional Value Proposition. To do so, answer the following three questions:
1.Why can I be useful? What business driver should I respond to?
2.How do I proceed? Which area should I focus on?
3.What results can I deliver? For what improvement?
To learn more http://blog.instarlink.com/en/content/generate-value-proposition

Reply

Grace Hu-Morley November 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Great list of templates! Thanks for providing samples. Perfect for when I have to help new marketers or interns.

The best ones in my opinion are the templates that address the problem(s) being solved.

I usually use a different version of Geoffrey Moore’s template…
For ______ (target customer) who _____ (statement of the need/ opportunity), the _____(product name) is a _____(product category) that _____(key benefit). Unlike ____ (primary competitive alternative), our product ____ (statement of primary differentiation).

Reply

tor November 26, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Grace, thank you. I’m glad you find it useful.

Reply

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