Your Unique Value Proposition Goes Digital

your unique value proposition goes digitalIf there's one thing that's difficult to nail down, especially when you begin your business, it's your unique value proposition (UVP). Your UVP is what differentiates your business from all other businesses; it's what makes your services or products, well, unique.

What's a UVP?

Let's look at a few definitions of UVP first.

Wikipedia says:

A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and acknowledged and a belief from the customer that value will be appealed and experienced. A value proposition can apply to an entire organization, or parts thereof, or customer accounts, or products or services.

HelpScout defines it another way:

A value proposition is the art of communicating “here is why you should buy from us” to your customers, so it can and should permeate your whole site and your customers’ experience.

And Michael Skok on Forbes has yet another definition

In its simplest terms, a value proposition is a positioning statement that explains what benefit you provide for who and how you do it uniquely well.

Sounds easy, right? 

Not so fast.

Finding your UVP is possibly the most important marketing action you will take for your business. It tells who you are, what you do, and why people should care, all in one sentence (or two at most).

Since this post is about your UVP in the digital world, I won't give you a method to find yours; check the three links above for ideas and models that you can use to develop your own unique value prposition.

What's different for UVPs in the digital world?

As a concept, the UVP is pretty universal. It applies to any kind of business, organization or non-profit, no matter the size, the location or the product or service offered. But if you go online (and really, you must), you need to rethink your UVP for digital audiences.

What makes a digital UVP unique? Let's see.

1. It has to be readable

Some UVPs are very long, with lots of complicated business jargon. It used to be appropriate when the only people who would hear about your company were like-minded business people, but not so much today. Because the internet makes everything available to anyone, chances are that someone might get on your website who may not be as knowledgeable as you are.

Keep it short. Keep it clear, in plain language. Make it so that an 8th-grader understands what it means (I'm not joking--usability studies prove that this is the most readable writing level for the web). 

Hootsuite does this very well:

unique value proposition hootsuite

So does a favourite product of mine, Freshbooks:

unique value proposition freshbooks

As you can see, both of these companies use one sentence with plain language.

But what about a B2B company?

Let's have a look.

Evernote Business targets, you guessed it, businesses.

unique value proposition evernote business

Salesforce is another ubiquitous B2B tool that nails its UVP.

unique value proposition salesforce

These are very clear for both business and non-business readers. Even though non-business readers are less likely to visit these pages, a simple UVP in plain language is what works best.

2. You need visuals

One of the beautiful things about the web is that it's multimedia. But you already know that, of course!

What makes a UVP in the digital space unique is the ability to use it together with visuals that strengthen its meaning. As you can see from the examples above, the visuals that come with the value propositions illustrate or expand on the meaning of the words.

Teamwork does this well by using a relevant background image and adding an introductory video.

Unbounce uses a diagram that illustrates the UVP itself.

Your value proposition needs pictures, but not just any pictures. It needs visuals that support and strengthen its message.

3. It needs to be customer-focused

Your UVP is not the place to state why you're awesome. It's the place to tell your potential customers why it's the best tool for them. Your product or service has to solve a problem, remove obstacles, make something easier, fulfill a need. Focus on that problem, obstacle or need.

Some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What are the benefits of your product or service?
  • What do your customers get out of your transaction?
  • What results do they get after using your product or service?

Let's use a silly exmaple: being cool. If you want to sell a product that makes someone instantly cool, you wouldn't start with: "We're a cool company". You'd obviously pitch: "be cool right now". People are generally a lot more interested to learn what's in it for themselves.

UVPs aren't dirty

UVPs can be challenging to put together, but once it's done, you will have a strong foundation for positioning yourself and your company against competitors on the web. Between two websites, one that doesn't present a clear UVP and one that does, which one do you think your target audience will prefer?

Do you have any other examples of value propositions that do well online?