Warning: Use These 7 Startup Experiments At Your Own Risk

Testing Value Propositions

You have learned how to design stunning value propositions or positioning statements using the proven examples of successful entrepreneurs and inspired business thinkers.

You probably spent hour after hour inside your office, turning every little word of your positioning statement to make it shine. Now, wouldn't it be nice to find out what actually sticks with your audience and what doesn't, before you invest even more into it?

To get you started, here are 7 super simple ways to quickly test your value proposition in social media.

1. LinkedIn Value Proposition

Your LinkedIn headline is visible in LinkedIn's search results pages, in the "profiles others have watched", in group discussions, and more.

By adding your value proposition to your headline along side a call to action in your profile summary, you could easily measure variations in number of profile views and contact requests, using LinkedIn's built-in stats.

2. Twitter Bio Value Proposition

Add your value proposition to your Twitter bio. Start engaging with prospective customers or users on Twitter. Did the updated bio get you more followers, requests? The high-level pitch template might be a good choice since  the Twitter bio is limited to 160 characters.

3. Tweet Your Value Proposition

Tweet your 140-character (or even better, make it 120 characters so that fellow tweeps can pass it on) value proposition, using a clear call to action in the end. What is the feedback, number of clicks, conversations? Measure and adjust.

4. Blog Your Value Proposition

Blog posts are excellent for testing your problem and solution hypothesis. In doing so you'd use a high-level value proposition for the headline and more detailed version for the head and copy. Further, you’d add your blog post to Hacker News, Reddit etc. or experiment with guest posts depending on where your customer segment lives.

Make sure to make the permalink generic so that you can adjust the headline based on feedback; unique visitors, page views, bounce rate, and more importantly, conversations. Use comments to get feedback from customers. See more under landing page value propositions.

5. Landing Page Value Proposition

Worth a post on its own there is an array of advice for properly doing landing page testing. But you don't need to make it rocket science.

Set up a simple landing page, using WordPress or Twitter bootstrap templates, or tune your existing site to make sure it clearly communicates your value proposition alongside a call to action. Look up Google Analytics or locate a split testing service such as Unbounce.com to test for different variations of your value proposition copy.

6. E-mail Value Proposition

E-mail is not only a powerful tool for testing your value proposition, but also for delivering it. Here, your high-level value proposition goes into the subject field while your longer version goes into the e-mail body. Target your customer with validated learning in mind, and measure accordingly.

7. Phone Propostion

Pick up the phone. Just dial up. Now.

Beware vanity metrics

The beauty about testing your value proposition in digital media is, it allows for quick feedback, quantitative as well as qualitative.

But beware vanity metrics. Because the amount of unique visitors, page views, likes or followers seldom tell you if you're on the right track or not.

Rather, use these techniques to start a conversation and drive actionable metrics that help prove the viability of your business model.

Let's chat on Twitter.

3 More Proven Templates for Writing Value Propositions That Work

value proposition examples and templatesResearch shows the attention span of a person may be as short as 8 seconds before their mind starts wandering. Similarly, 8 out of 10 people read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 read the rest of your copy. How can you create a value proposition that breaks the power law and captures the interest of your audience?

Since readers seemed to find my 7 Proven Templates For Writing Value Propositions That Work useful, I thought I’d pull together 3 more proven templates that help you quickly sketch out a winning value proposition

#1 Clay Christensen’s Jobs-to-be-done

According to Harvard Business School Professor Clay Christensen, designing an innovative customer value proposition begins with genuinely understanding the customer's jobs-to-be-done (JTBD).

JTBD is not a product, service, or a specific solution; it's the higher purpose for which customers buy products, services, and solutions. Its premise is that customers don't really buy products. They "hire" them to do a job. Instead of asking what products customers want to buy, the JTBD method asks what fundamental problems they hope to address.

The authors of The Innovator’s Toolkit suggest using a “job statement” to describe a JTBD.

Template

Action verb: _________

Object of action: _________

Contextual identifier: _________.

Sample(s)

“Manage personal finances at home”. (Mint.com)

“Preserving fun memories.” (Kodak’s Funsaver)

“Listen to music while jogging.” (iPod)

#2 Simon Sinek’s WHY

According to Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.” Sinek’s Golden Circle framework shows you how to turn an idea into a social movement by leading a focus on WHY.

This step-by-step process teaches you to clarify your Why, articulate your Hows, and the importance of being consistent in What you do.

Template

Why: ___________

How: ___________

What: ___________

Sample(s)

Why: In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.

How: The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly.

What: We just happen to make computers.

#3 The Minto Pyramid aka SCQA

SCQA – Situation, Complication, Question, and Answer – also known as The Minto Pyramid Principle, helps you organize ideas to write compelling business documents. It be memos, presentations, emails, blog posts or – key to all the former – value propositions.

Template

Situation - describe what is the current situation

Complication - describe the issue in the situation

Question - describe the question in response to the issue

Answer  - suggest answer to ease out or mitigate the issue

Sample(s)

With the rise of smartphones and online video the use of data has exploded.

Consequently, wireless networks become congested and slow.

How can mobile operators increase their quality of service?

Our patented routing algorithm helps mobile operators radically increase throughput.

Want more? See my post on 7 Proven Templates and Examples For Writing Value Propositions That Work or subscribe to get tips and tricks in your inbox.

7 Proven Templates for Writing Value Propositions That Work

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 is 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 popularized -  in his seminal book Crossing the Chasm - Geoff Moore suggests a specific template for outlining 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.

Continue reading

10 Scrappy Minimum Viable Products That Made It

 This collection includes the early websites of Facebook (still with the The), 37signals, LinkedIn (not that bad in fact), eBay (without the pictures I'm afraid), Twitter (probably the first sketch), and more. Note that some may miss CSS and therefore may not display identical to the original.

If "preach what you teach" still holds, this better be a minimum viable blog post. As far as I put the slide deck together in under 1o minutes, did the research for it during a quick train trip this morning, and publish this as soon as possible (even if it's a bad time to post), it would need iterations.

How To Craft a Lean, Mean Value Proposition For Your Startup

EasyPeasy Value PropositionMark Twain said "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead." Similar, every business model needs a clear and compelling proposition - a short description of the value or benefit your product creates for a specific customer segment.

In his seminal tech marketing book, Crossing the Chasm, Geoff Moore provided a very useful template for making and baking your elevator test. But as I needed an even more high-concept positioning–one that goes with your social media accounts, your tweets or Google ads–I turned to successful web startups for help. What I found is something that I call the VAD technique.

Guy Kawasaki is a true master of crafting value propositions or mantras, which he prefer over corporate-ish mission statements. On his blog I found the following killer examples:

I like these. They are short, simple, playful and to-the-point. Guy is not afraid of polarizing people. Its premise is that you will rather take a sniper than shotgun approach when targeting your customers with value propositions. Guy seems to put a verb or call-to-action first, followed by the application and a differentiator.

That is [verb; application; differentiator], or VAD if you like.

Another interesting value proposition is that of Xobni. By highlighting "Drowning in Email?", Xobni immediately makes you aware of your problem and invokes some kind of thank-god-I'm-not-alone-feeling. Instead of being everything to everyone, Xobni makes it clear that it offers you an Outlook sidebar plug-in. Following, Xobni highlights it main features and user perceived values - "searching your inbox and finding information about your contacts fast and easy".

Now, consider EasyPeasy, a software startup that I helped found. Its current value propostions are:

  • EasyPeasy: an open source cloud OS for netbooks.
  • EasyPeasy: Linux for the rest of us.

By using the VAD technique we came up with the following high-concept pitches:

  • EasyPeasy: Rediscover your netbook.
  • EasyPeasy: Make your netbook a lean, mean surfing machine.
  • EasyPeasy: Run any web app inside the operating system

I admit being scared of polarizing main audiences within open source and Linux. Yet, VAD helped us drill down customer segments and perceived user value. From a positioning point of view these value propositions polarize new netbook users, and focus on solving the problem of current netbook users that feel pain with their pre-installed OS.

If you would like a more in-depth approach to value propositions and business models, I recommend reading chapter 2 in Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur.

Feel free to slaughter or embrace the high-level EasyPeasy pitch, or throw away the shotgun, load your rifle and share your own VAD-style value proposition.

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