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FutureNow Article
Friday, Dec. 5, 2008

The Value of a Unique Value Proposition

By Bryan Eisenberg
December 5th, 2008

Melts In Your Mouth Not In Your HandThe idea of a unique selling proposition isn’t new or unique. According to Wikipedia, the term was coined in the 1940s. More than seven years ago I wrote about it. Here’s a bit:

    What simple statement about your business or brand — just a quick, clear sentence or two at most — tells your prospects that you are the only alternative for them? Sounds like a response should just jump out at you. Yet most businesses (on- and offline) cannot provide an answer that simply rolls off their tongues or, even more appropriately in the case of e-commerce, appears on their home pages.By USP, or unique selling proposition, I don’t mean a slogan or a phrase that will appear in your advertising, although that’s one potential use for it. Rather I mean the concise and memorable phrase that answers your prospect’s always-implicit question, “Why should I do business with you and not somebody else?”

A unique selling proposition is mucho importante. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Linda Bustos, an e-commerce consultant at the Get Elastic blog wrote:

    Why should your ideal customer purchase from you rather than from anybody else?I would even go so far as to ask yourself, what one thing about your company, your product selection, your customer service or your customer loyalty is so compelling, that even if a product was out of stock, or some functionality were broken on your site, a customer would stick around and buy something?

    The folks at Marketing Experiments believe so strongly in the importance of the clarity of the value proposition that Dr. Flint McGlaughlin was bold enough to say if you get your value proposition right, you can get many other things wrong on your landing pages and still improve conversion dramatically.

Several years ago at our company, we adjusted the term a bit by replacing “selling” with “value.” What we didn’t change was our work with clients, helping them clarify or even create a unique value proposition for use on their site (among hundreds of other factors).

I was reminded of this recently when our newest conversion analyst and one of his clients turned in their most recent optimization success story. A single test on this client’s unique value proposition increased overall conversion rate by 33.8 percent. What did this client do that worked so well? It hired a good writer (at our suggestion) who wrote several suggested unique value propositions, as this company didn’t have one at all. Then we tested the several unique value propositions, until we had a clear winner. Not only did our client see a conversion rate increase, it gained customer insight that can be used to optimize other site areas.

Every Landing Page Needs One

In recent years, I’ve even started suggesting clients use unique campaign propositions (UCP). These are meant to reinforce your offer from banner ad or PPC (define) campaigns by enhancing the landing-page scent. When visitors take their precious eight-second first impression, you want them to know why they should buy from you and not your competitors.

Strengthen Your Unique Value Proposition

Creating a unique value or campaign proposition isn’t for chumps or posers. Your value proposition must be clear, relevant, and easy to understand. Here’s a quick, easy process for writing a more powerful unique value proposition:

  • Ask your personas what they value most about your product/service/campaign; make a list. (If you don’t have personas, you can ask a few dozen of your most faithful customers. Yes, you can ask both if you want).
  • On your list, look for repeating themes and list those separately.
  • Hand the list to a good writer. Ask that person to write 5 to 10 versions of a potential unique value proposition based on the list.
  • Test three to five of the most promising unique value propositions.
  • Pick the best-performing unique value proposition.

How strong is your unique value proposition? It could be the key to a better conversion rate.

Add Your Comments

Comments (44)

  1. Very true. In addition to making your value clear to your customers, a solid value proposition will also help clarify your priorities and roadmap. It will improve your business, team and product – I wrote about it in a casual way here http://productfour.wordpress.com/2007/10/18/the-value-of-a-value-proposition/

  2. I think identifying a unique value proposition is core to everything a company does – everything should cascade from it. When I was in corporate strategy for one of the top three airlines, a typical answer among employees to the question “why should customers fly XYZ?” was “to get from point A to point B”. But that’s why customers should fly. A more specific question is “why should customers choose you over a competitor?” Without a good answer to this question it’s hard to see how a company can sustain profitability, loyalty, cost-effective acquisition, etc. I have a small blog post on the topic at http://jeffreyrosenberg.typepad.com/mkt/2008/11/value-proposition-or-hostage-proposition.html. Captivity can’t be the answer! Thanks for the blog post.

  3. I think I know why people should buy their products from me instead of another site. But I am unsure how to best write it down short and sweet.

    Could you suggest a writer to help me?

    Thanks…….

  4. [...] offering something others can’t or won’t. In marketing-speak, you have your own USP, or unique selling proposition. This is the quality of your expertise that others would find difficult to [...]

  5. Here’s a slightly contrarian view over at my blog: http://www.sales-excellence.co.uk/articles/do-i-really-need-a-usp.html

    My conclusion: while USPs (or UVPs – I agree it’s a better phrase) are important for many businesses, for many others (particularly service businesses or local businesses) there are more important things than being unique.

    In particular, the key factor is not whether the value you deliver is unique – but whether your potential customer really believes you can deliver it.

    Ian

  6. Perhaps whether a potential customer really believes you can deliver it is the value proposition, if competitors are known to be less reliable delivering the goods.

  7. Along the lines of Ian’s post, I think unique is hugely powerful, but can also stand in the way by causing the “perfect to be the enemy of the good.” Companies can tie themselves in knots trying to nail the unique part and end up missing the value proposition part in the process. I wonder if there isn’t an approach that says “start with your value proposition and then see if and where you can make it unique. But by all means (per Bryan’s blog) make sure your selling proposition is clear.

  8. David – I’d certainly agree, your perceived ability to deliver could be a great USP/UVP – but I find that in reality that’s not where most companies (and consultants advising them) look when creating them. When done simplisticly (as I fear too many are, by companies and advisors with limited experience) they tend to produce what I call “meaningless differentiation”. Positioning that’s unique – but that doesn’t offer real value to clients.

    That’s why I like Bryan’s phrase “Unique Value Proposition” – it’s a reminder that the proposition needs to focus on value, not just uniqueness.

    Ian

  9. i know the landing page scent is becoming more important, but its just a matter of taking baby steps for some clients as to their USP and matching it with their landing pages…

  10. The three key words here in their order of importance are 1) value, 2) unique, and 3) simply stated. As many have said, it has to be a value perceived by the customer, it has to be unique – not only something they can’t get anywhere else, but NOT getting that value would be a missed opportunity; so doing nothing at all is also not an option.

    You also have to be able to state it simply – in a phrase or sentence. It should dynamically address an obvious void in the marketplace that you can honestly fill.

    “Fresh Hot Pizza delivered in 30-minutes or it’s Free”. “When it absolutely positively has to be there overnight.”

    What is the ‘void’ in your marketplace? What’s missing in your market? What is it that customers want that no one else is delivering? You’ve to to think outside the box. It’s not easy, but if you can identify it and meet all of the above criteria – it’s a game changer.

  11. Good info, but if you are going to use Spanish phrases (“mucho importante”), please be sure that they are correct: muy importante.

  12. [...] The Value of a Unique Value Proposition If you offer no good reason for a visitor to use your website rather than a competitors,  then it [...]

  13. [...] Unique Value Proposition (or Unique Campaign Proposition), is a brief, concise statement about what makes your website/business unique, and why customers should buy from you and not your competitors.  It’s been a central part of our Persuasion Architecture methodology from day one. [...]

  14. [...] Unique Value Proposition (or Unique Campaign Proposition), is a brief, concise statement about what makes your website/business unique, and why customers should buy from you and not your… [...]

  15. [...] The Value of a Unique Value Proposition Creating a unique value or campaign proposition isn’t for chumps or posers. Your value proposition must be clear, relevant, and easy to understand. [...]

  16. [...] points or positive PR they receive in return. Most such projects are never required to articulate a value proposition or hash out their competitive [...]

  17. Two points here stand out as highly relevant to my work in rehabilitating under-performing websites: a)”most businesses cannot provide a (USP) that simply rolls off their tongues”, and b) “the proposition needs to focus on value, not just uniqueness”.

    It used to surprise me that managers didn’t instinctively know these things. Now when I’m called in to make their site “findable” on Google I know for certain that the Chief Marketing Officer will be unable to describe his target market, state his Unique Success Proposition, or be able to write copy and marketing material that shows value and benefit to the prospective client.

    Having a website that cannot be found on Google is just a symptom.

  18. [...] In fact, it doesn’t have to be new at all. All you need is a secret ingredient (i.e., an unique value proposition) that differentiates you from your competitors. Passion is the best secret ingredient in the world. [...]

  19. [...] Unique Value Proposition is prominent and below the logo [...]

  20. Thanks for stressing this point again. I think we sometime need to work on all of our pages and go through one by one and find UVP for every page.

  21. [...] website het is en waarom de bezoeker op de website moet zijn is voldoende. Dit wordt ook wel de Unique Value Proposition [...]

  22. Bryan – good article. Strong value propositions are mucho importante. Agree with your suggestion of starting with your customer and figuring out how you are delivering outstanding value. Here’s another article on developing a value proposition. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  23. And make it easy to understand. Not all buyers are masters students! I speak for myself. ;)

  24. [...] design (see screenshot, highlighting is mine), and immediately noticed that they had a prominent Unique Value Proposition (UVP) statement, which was [...]

  25. There are so many aspects to marketing that the value of the unique value of the proposition whatever your business is something that many should be taking great notice of. Have a great product prove its value and get it noticed.

  26. I definitely agree with Henal, make it unique prove it is worthwhile and it will get noticed. Most of all follow up on your service to those who are customers.

  27. i think that every site that sells tangible goods needs to have the trust of its customers. Usually it is the delivery process that can create a USP. good read.

  28. I agree with everything this articles says, but I think it’s harder than just a good slogan. Where it sits on the landing page is also crucial. And then there’s the reality that if your site is well designed, then every page is a potential landing page, which means that the UVP has to be in the static header that doesn’t change from page to page, and consequently, it might get overlooked. . . . I’ve been reading a lot on how eyes look at websites, and basically, they seldom look at banners or headers . . . Tricky!

  29. a no questions asked refund might also be a bit of help in building trust

  30. For whatever reason, this just popped up in my feedreader…

    Good post, though I’d like to get some input on how long you’d think a UVP can be.

    But I think I’ll just test that myself :-)

  31. <>

    Yes I followed this idea. But we can say that it is unique as well.

  32. Just found your blog. What a great resource. Thank you!

  33. Yesterday I create my own product in one niche. Now I’m trying to make some decent landing page but it seems quite a hard task. I hope I manage to do sth good and my idea will convert well :)

  34. Great article man :) Now I see I need to read something more about landing pages cause my knowledge in this topic is limited.

  35. [...] Create a UVP. If you’re a Grok follower, you’ve heard us (possibly for years) go on and on about [...]

  36. [...] Bryan Eisenberg/GrokDotCom: The Value of a Unique Value Proposition [...]

  37. [...] 20. Why should I go with you over your competitors, i.e. what’s your Unique Value Proposition? [...]

  38. Name recognition of your product is very important. And trust, by giving your customers quality and good quailty information, mixed in with a few need to buy triggers

  39. [...] [...]

  40. a competitor?” Without a good answer to this niche. Now I’m trying to make some decent landing page but choose you good quailty information, mixed in with a few need to buy triggers over it question it’s hard to see how a company can sustain

  41. [...] Visitors need to know why you are different from the bazillions of other firms out there, and they need to know quickly. Give them what they want. Create your unique value proposition. [...]

  42. [...] you don’t have a UVP developed, don’t bother redesigning until you’ve got one. Every site should have one, and over many tests I’ve found that adding or improving the expression of UVP has strong [...]

  43. [...] [...]

  44. [...] Value Proposition Statement is another great page element to add into multivariate tests. It’s also something you can test without those scant front-end development resources. A value proposition statement is the concise statement about why prospects should do business with you instead of your competition. [...]

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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