In today’s episode, I’m going to answer TWO questions: What is a VP (value proposition)? And how do you articulate yours?
Let’s dive in!
I see a lot of advice (especially in Facebook groups where people are saying they’re not getting sales or are struggling to get clients) where people tell each other that it seems like they need to improve their value proposition.
But there seems to be a lot of confusion about what a value proposition is. There’s also a lot of bad advice out there about how to improve your value proposition.
Today, I thought I would dive into a little bit more insight into what a value proposition is, and how to actually articulate yours and potentially improve it.
The first thing to know is that your value proposition is not one sentence.
In fact, trying to sum up your value proposition in one sentence decreases the perceived value of what it is that you do. It actually makes it worse.
Someone asking you on social media what your value proposition is, is actually misleading you to believe that there’s a one-sentence way to sum up the value that you have to offer.
It doesn’t ever come down to one sentence.
Trying to sum it up or come up with a sexy tagline or a specific hashtag or a one-sentence elevator pitch that perfectly sums up how valuable you are, is not the way to articulate a value proposition.
It certainly doesn’t increase your value proposition.
Another unhelpful piece of advice about value proposition is: rather than discounting, add bonuses.
People talk about value proposition as being the perceived value of something. They say that one way to increase the perceived value of something is to make people think that they’re getting it at a discount or getting a bargain to make it feel like it’s more valuable if they buy it now rather than later.
This is more about sales tactics and finding ways to create urgency and scarcity.
That’s not value proposition.
Think about it: Falsely making something look like it’s discounted may be a psychological trick, but it doesn’t actually increase the value proposition of what you’re selling. It’s just a trick.
For most people when it comes to added bonuses, it can actually be discouraging.
Let’s say that someone is signing up for a four-session package with you, where over eight weeks and in four sessions you’re going to get them from A to D and you’re going to help them move through this problem. And then you say that if they buy by a certain date, you’ll give them an extra session for free.
What you’re actually telling them is that they may need a fifth session to get the same outcome, even though you told them it works in four sessions.
For a lot of people when they add a bonus to what it is that they’re offering, they’re actually just adding more work. They’re adding more time and they’re adding more energy or effort required to get the same result.
That doesn’t make it more valuable if we take longer to get there.
Another example of this is where someone says that with the purchase of their course, you also get a bonus interview with someone, a bonus cheat sheet, and a whole lot more resources and materials, that ultimately, just look like a whole lot more work to get the same result.
Adding bonuses doesn’t necessarily increase the value proposition of anything…
What is value proposition? And how do you articulate and improve it?
First and foremost, your value proposition is the difference between before working with you and after working with you, and how valuable that difference is to the individual who’s looking at it.
This is the reason why you can go into a Facebook community and ask how much people would pay for your artwork, and one person will say $50, and another will say $2,500.
It’s the same artwork, but it’s in the eye of the beholder.
For one person, they don’t necessarily like art, they don’t value art, and they don’t think it improves their life in any way.
They value that art based on the materials that go into it, and a little bit of your labour.
Whereas to someone else, they might deeply value art. They might be renovating their office and looking for a beautiful art piece to go in it, and your art piece looks like it’s the perfect thing for that perfect space, so they value that art piece.
That doesn’t mean each person is wrong. Value proposition has nothing to do with how you perceive the value of your products and services. It has everything to do with how your clients or potential clients perceive the value of what it is that you do.
It has nothing to do with what you believe it’s worth.
This is where a lot of people get stuck.
They get upset because they know how valuable what they offer is, yet their audience just doesn’t see it.
People solve this by saying that they’re only going to work with people who are ready to invest and can already see the value in their work.
But all that is saying is that you don’t know how to articulate my value proposition, so you’re only going to work with people who get it WITHOUT you having to explain it.
That, therefore, diminishes the percentage of your audience who are ready, willing and able to buy from you, because you’re not doing your part in understanding your value proposition and expressing it in a way that’s meaningful to them.
If I said to you that you could change your conversion rate from your mailing list from 0.1% of your audience buying from you, to 3% of your audience buying from you just by you nailing your value proposition, would you do it? Alternatively, you can keep your conversion rates super low, but not have to do that little piece of work. Which would you rather?
I would rather do the work on the value proposition and take responsibility for ensuring I speak about my work in a way that’s valuable to my audience.
That’s what having a business and being a marketer is all about!
That’s what the difference is between someone who has good conversion rates, and someone who continuously struggles to get clients. They get so frustrated and just don’t understand why these people that clearly need their help won’t buy from them.
I totally understand that frustration, but it’s not your audience’s fault.
It’s your responsibility to get good at articulating your value proposition in a way that’s meaningful and valuable to your audience.
Lucky for you, I’m going to walk you through the process of how to map this out. NOT by finding a sexy one sentence VP. NOT by picking the perfect tagline. But by doing the work on understanding the value of the before and after.
The first thing I want you to do is to get a piece of paper or a spreadsheet – something where you can make a table.
It needs to have four columns.
The four columns are:
Now I want you to set a timer and write down what life is like for your ideal client before working with you.
I want you to get it all down in one go for that column. Don’t skip back and forth between the different columns. Just write down the before.
Go into the Before column and write down all of the signs of what life is like before working with you. Be as descriptive as possible.
Let’s say you’re a Feng Shui practitioner – you help people to Feng Shui their office, so it’s more aligned to attracting money.
In the before, they’re doing all their marketing work, but it just doesn’t seem to be resulting in sales. When they sit down in their office, it just doesn’t feel right energetically.
It doesn’t feel like it’s energised and powerful and magnetic.
They might feel like their office is really cluttered. When they look around, their office is full of stuff that doesn’t necessarily belong there – it’s become a dumping ground.
We’ve got all these signs. Think about what life is like before. Get into some of the minutiae and the detail.
This is why a value proposition is not a one-sentence thing… You need to be able to explain all the things that add up to ‘there’s a problem here‘.
If you’re someone who helps people with their graphic design and you help them to have a really beautiful cohesive brand, what is life like before?
Every time your ideal client is running a webinar, they have to start from scratch with their slide deck. It just doesn’t look that good.
Everything that they put up on social media feels like it’s just been homemade. They wish it looked fancy and had gold foil, like someone else’s.
You’ve got all these signs that they are in the before state. Describe that in detail.
We want to have lots of different examples. And they need to all be examples that one person could experience.
We’re not looking for or’s. We don’t want to hear that this happens, OR this happens, OR this happens.
That’s just a bunch of different niches. We want to focus on one niche. We want to focus on the and’s… This happens, AND this happens, AND this happens.
The longer the list, the better.
Spend some time really articulating what is life like beforehand.
Then go into the second column. Write out what the process is that you take people through when they work with you.
This could be an example for a Feng Shui practitioner:
First off, we draw up the floor plan.
Second off, they walk me through the office so I can see exactly how things are laid out.
Third, we get clear on what their goals are, and what it would feel like if they felt as though the room was set up more to be in energetic flow.
Fourth, I give them a list of the top 10 things they can do to shift the energy in the room.
Then we go through and do another walk around to recap and see if there’s any extra recalibration.
A month later, we do a final check-in.
Whatever your step-by-step process is (I totally just made that up off the top of my head)… Is there a general sequence to the work that you do with people?
Of course, everyone’s individual and unique and the reason that they work with you one-on-one is because you can tailor something that’s bespoke to their needs. But generally, there’s some form of process that you’re taking them through.
What are those steps?
Map that out – that’s your second column.
Third column: What is life like after?
Again, I want you to map it out in minute detail.
If before, the office is used as a dumping ground, then after, the office is a sacred space, perfectly attuned to magnetising money, and is not used as a dumping ground.
I want you to write out what life is like after.
You can write an after that matches every before, but it doesn’t have to line up that way. Just fill in that column with all of the signs.
Remember: It’s AND, AND not OR, OR.
The final column: Why?
Why is that transformation valuable to your ideal client?
I want you to look holistically at before, process, after, and I want you to write down all the reasons why this shift is valuable to your ideal client. Not why you THINK it’s valuable, but why it actually IS valuable to them.
What is the value of going from before, to after?
Now that you’ve done that, you’ll have this amazing table that perfectly articulates the difference between before and after, but also gives you the responsibility for articulating exactly why that is valuable to your niche and your specific audience.
(You are doing an amazing job – this is miles beyond most people when they’re doing the marketing and copywriting! A strong VP is on its way to you!!)
A couple of little things I want to say here…
How do you then use this in your business and actually go and speak to people?
There are two ways:
If you’re writing something for a broadcast audience (lots of different people in your audience are going to be reading it), then you want to focus on different parts of that value proposition – different parts of that transformation.
I want you to speak to different areas because different people will value different parts higher and other parts lower.
When you go to write an email to your audience with a promo for your VIP package, you don’t want to just chuck the whole table in there.
If you give everyone everything, it doesn’t necessarily get to the point quickly. It doesn’t speak directly to an individual, because it’s all of the reasons and it can start to be a little bit overwhelming. But you might like to select a few key points that you think are really juicy, and incorporate that into the way that you craft your offer for your mailing list.
When you’re doing a promo of your course on social media, pick different pieces to highlight in different promo posts.
Do a Facebook Live about the one particular before and after transformation, and why so many people in your audience find that valuable.
Then you might do a quick snippet on the top three reasons why your program is going to be a game-changer (especially if you’re in this particular segment or this particular situation).
You find different parts of that copy to include in different pieces of content that go out to your audience.
When it all adds up, it’s this epic ecosystem of messaging that articulates the value of working with you so strongly.
It’s a really big transformation to achieve.
That’s the first way that you’re going to be really focused on your value proposition…
2. One-to-one conversation
This is where VP comes into its own.
If you can speak to someone (a hot lead) about working with you in a way that’s really valuable to them, and the value proposition for them is really big, then they’re more likely to convert.
The most important thing you can do when you’re speaking to someone one-to-one is to qualify. Ask questions!
Some examples of the questions you want to ask are:
- Why is it that this is important to you?
- What are you hoping to achieve?
- How has it shown up for you in the past?
This ensures that you know what parts of your value proposition they are going to be more resonant with. You can then emphasise that part of your value proposition with that specific person.
If they don’t use their office as a dumping ground and they haven’t mentioned that when you’re asking them questions, then you don’t need to focus on that.
What ends up happening for me is that I know my niche and my audience so well, that I can speak to what’s going on for them in the before column, without them ever having to have said it.
I’ve got to know their lived experience so deeply that I can tell, just by some of the things that they say about their business, exactly what they need. I will be able to speak to a specific experience that they’ve had because I know them so well.
The more you get to know your audience, the more you can speak to that lived experience effectively.
The more you qualify and ask questions and get to know the individual in that sales conversation, the more that you can tailor the parts of your value proposition that you focus on to be able to speak to what it is that they’re looking for.
It’s a really juicy tool, isn’t it?!
This is the juicy stuff that’s in the Take Off program that really helps people to go from throwing spaghetti at the wall and trying to throw out content that people are going to be interested in, to really narrowing in and being strategic with the way that they talk about their work.
Hopefully, you found this particularly valuable today.
A couple of quick things that I find with value proposition:
The first is that if you do you find yourself saying ‘this OR this OR this‘, then chances are that you’re un-niched.
Make sure to grab my free Nail Your Niche training here: CLICK ME
The second thing that I find that happens quite a lot is people are worried about over-promising in the after column
They can talk about things in the before column, but then they don’t want to guarantee all of these things that might happen afterwards to their audience.
There are two things I want to say to that:
1. Base your after column on reasonable achievements
What would you reasonably expect most of your clients to achieve if they did the work in the process column?
If people went through that process with you, what would it be reasonable to expect as a result of completing that work with you for most people?
It doesn’t have to be guaranteed for every person. But for most people, what can you reasonably expect that they will achieve out of it?
If you’re not comfortable with how that sounds, then you need to refine your process. Build your skills and get clear on what the process is that will get them the big results that you’d be happy to speak to.
If there’s one place in all of the world where I want you to really own the outcome that you help people to achieve, it’s in your value proposition document.
If you can’t speak to the after with confidence in your value proposition document that you don’t have to share with anyone, then how on earth is your audience supposed to figure it out?
I want to give you a giant permission slip to really go there.
If in writing it down, you feel uncomfortable and feel like your client would have to do everything perfectly in order for them to achieve that outcome, then you get to decide: What am I going to do to make sure I help them make do those things? Or do I need to dial back what it is that I’m thinking I’m going to achieve in terms of this transformation?
Give yourself that freedom.
2. Adapt as you go
I redid the value proposition of the Take Off program in late 2020.
In doing that, I realised I was understating some of the big outcomes that I wanted to help people achieve through the Take Off program.
I really wanted to dial up what half of my students had achieved. I wanted to be able to speak confidently to the results that people were achieving in the Take Off program.
In redoing my value proposition, it highlighted to me that there was some discomfort with aiming higher with the outcomes that I could help people achieve in the Take Off program.
In the after column of the value proposition document, I wrote that my clients would be making consistent 10k months.
That’s what I believe the Take Off program is capable of helping people to achieve.
Just under half of the people who had completed the Take Off program at that point in time had come close to that. Yet I didn’t feel comfortable saying that. And so I really questioned it. Why am I feeling uncomfortable about writing this in the after?
It was because this was a new stretch.
When I first created the Take Off program, I was helping people get their first clients. That’s what I wanted the Take Off program to do.
Then in the second version of Take Off, I was helping people get consistent clients. That’s what I help people to do.
And then in the next version of the Take Off program, it was helping people to have consistent $5,000 months, and three to four VIP sales a month. But I never felt comfortable with a dollar figure.
What it highlighted to me was that Take Off needed a new version. With the number of students coming into the program, I needed to feel confident in the program’s ability to deliver that outcome.
I needed to make the program a little more comprehensive than it had been.
In the past, Take Off had had fewer students and a lot more hand-holding with me individually, to get them that result.
It wasn’t just the modules that got them there or the process in the modules, it was a combination of the modules and some very tailored, very high-touch mentoring that got them the result.
The more students that came into the Take Off program, the more I was relying on the module part of Take Off to move people through that process, and the less those modules stood up to the scrutiny of being able to do that without as much hand-holding.
That is where the huge rework of the Take Off program happened in 2021.
I wanted to feel that congruence, and I wanted to see and feel confident in having ‘Consistent 10k months’ written in the after column.
It’s a really good litmus test for your belief in your process, but also potentially needing to scale up your process in order to meet the value proposition that you want to promise to your audience.
That brings us to the end of this episode.
I would really love to know from you if you’ve had any aha moments as a result of this episode, or if you have any follow-up questions.
We’re going to make this the new #PinnedPod in the Heart-Centred, Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs Facebook group.
Come on over to the Heart-Centred group, and check out the #PinnedPod here: CLICK ME
I want to know from you in the comments, what is your takeaway from this? Has this helped you with your value proposition? Do you have any follow up questions? What have your lightbulb moments been?
Let’s have a conversation about this!
Thank you for joining me in this episode of the Heart-Centred Business Podcast.
Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.