5 Steps To Writing a Compelling Value Proposition (🍕#1)

How to get across exactly what your product or service offers to solve a customer pain point.

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As a founder or product manager, your product is your means of transferring value to users and customers. 

Creating and distributing a product that fails to convey its value is equally as bad as creating a product that has none. And the effect of succinctly communicating true product value is reflected in the company’s wealth — which can subsequently be measured in revenue, users, and other metrics like market share and brand recognition.

I argue that the bedrock of (1) creating a successful product, and (2) being able to market it, is writing a concise, effective, and persuasive statement that sums up the purpose and benefit of your product — the value proposition.

1. Research and understand your customer 

When you’re creating a brand new product, or building a feature, you have a set of assumptions as to why this would work and is a good idea. One of these being, and certainly the most important, that the target customer is experiencing a problem (pain point) and in need of a solution.

This is what you think. Unfortunately, this isn’t workable data to make any actionable decisions off. Product decisions need to be data-driven from quantitative and qualitative customer research. 

This topic is an entire article in it’s own right, but in short — without doing research and understanding your customer you will only be writing a value proposition for yourself, and taking an unnecessary gamble that it applies to the intended customer too.

2. Create a Value Matrix

A value proposition is the tip of an iceberg. It’s what’s visible at a glance to the team, stakeholders, and most importantly, your customers. It’s the summation of your research and insight. 

I’ve too often seen “value propositions” just be pulled from thin air because they sound cool. To stick to my iceberg analogy, this is the equivalent of a small piece of ice bobbing around with zero substance.

As someone responsible for your product, it’s your responsibility to be able to justify that tip of the iceberg with a solid mountain of ice below.  And I’ve found that one of the most useful methods in helping articulate that iceberg to (1) myself, and (2) everyone else is by using a value matrix — a simple three column matrix like this will do.

3. Write out their key pain points

In your matrix, fill in the key pain points that you’ve identified your customers have.These will include some of your initial hypotheses, as well as new insights you’ve gained by speaking to users and from market, customer, and competitor research. 

An example of how to phrase a pain point

(X) is an important concern for (customer) when (Y)

I.e Safety is an important concern for travellers when booking accommodation.

4. List the product value for each

Your list of pain points tell you “what” the customer cares about, and what your solution needs to solve to be valuable. 

In the second column, you’re addressing “how” your product will do that. This is where you are highlighting the value of each feature. This step is also exceptionally useful in helping with feature triage, especially at the stage of creating an MVP. You will no doubt have a myriad of feature ideas that you’d love to have in the product — this step is basically a validation gate, where if a feature doesn’t directly solve a pain point, it doesn’t get priority through.

An example of how to phrase a features value:

(X feature) will be used to increase/decrease (Y problem)

I.e. Peer-reviews will be used to increase travellers’ trust when booking accommodation with a stranger. 

5. Prioritize and craft one message

The first question a user is asking themselves (for most of us, subconsciously) when seeing a product is, “why should I care?”. Signing up and using your product is an investment, even free ones. 

With your “what” and “how” arguments now in place, you’re able to write your value statement — the sentence that communicates this to your customer.

Not all pain points and product benefits must be listed in this — and they don’t need to. This is not the time to cram everything in and bombard with information — here less is more. You’re just communicating the one key value to hook your customers curiosity, enough to make them want to discover more. 

Avoid buzzwords and superlatives. AI tells a customer nothing. And who cares if it’s  “The Best” if I have no clue what it is. You need to get across exactly what your product or service offers.  Test it on friends and family. Ask them to tell you what they think the product does. 

Example:

An app that allows travellers to book the safest accommodation anywhere in the world.

Your value proposition is usually the first thing a lead will see, efficient communication will help make sure it’s not the last.

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