Value propositions – that short, sweet statement that encapsulates everything about your product and compels your intended audience to buy it. Critical to communicate your business to the world – from conversations to pitch decks to sales collateral – there is considerable pressure to make value proposition a good one.

But what does it take to write a good value proposition and how will you know if it’s any good?
And can it be done quickly?

Creating good value propositions are like playing with LEGO

value-proposition writing is like LEGO
Writing value propositions and playing with LEGO have a lot in common | Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

I think of value propositions like LEGO; lots of bricks that can be assembled in multiple ways from masterpieces admired by many to weird monuments that only their creators see beauty in. Like building a LEGO masterpiece, a good value proposition can take some time, but the sooner you get feedback the sooner you know if it works.

Three steps to writing a good value proposition

Here’s three simple steps to get you started in a few hours.
Working as a group or team is far more effective and fun, but you could do this exercise on your own too.

  1. Assemble all your bricks (break it down)

    Whether you’re starting from scratch or already have a draft value proposition, it’s all about assembling the bricks. By ‘bricks’ I mean answers to these five questions;

    • Who is your target audience?
    • What do they want/ what problems are they trying to solve?
    • What does your product/ business do?
    • What are they key benefits?
    • Why is it different/ why choose you?

    Ideally you should create lists of answers; like sorting LEGO bricks into piles by colour or size. Type a list, use post-it notes, a whiteboard or a note book; just write it down against these five points.

    Next you can start to experiment with how to best put them together.

  2. Find some templates (build it up)

    Aim to not use all your bricks, but to artfully decide which bricks to use and which to discard in creating your value proposition.

    Top tip: use templates. Plenty of others have done the hard work in determining ways to construct a value proposition, so use templates as a guide to craft yours in a way that best represents your product or business.

    There’s tons of posts and books on how to write a compelling value proposition, check out these templates conveniently collated by Tor Gronsund.

    Try writing a version of your value proposition using each template. Sometimes seeing different iterations and options helps guide your final drafts. Different versions can also be useful to communicate your product across channels and touchpoints, for example, your pitch deck, your website or your business card.

  3. Test and refine (ask for feedback)

    How do you know if you’ve got a value proposition masterpiece?
    Go ask others for their feedback.

    In a perfect world you would test out your draft value proposition on the target customer. However, your customer’s time is precious (or you don’t have any yet) and you want fast progress. Go ask friends, family and colleagues because they are often readily available and more patient for testing out early drafts.

    Show them your statement and ask them to tell you what they think it means. Get them to explain it back to you to find out what works or does not work. If they don’t understand it, there’s a chance your target customer won’t either (unless you have an incredibly technical product for a very niche customer).

So there it is. Three steps to writing a value proposition in just a few hours.

But wait there’s more…consider how to test and refine

With more time, consider using tools like AB testing or surveys to refine your value proposition. For instance, a recent client of mine couldn’t articulate their key benefits, so I conducted interviews with the sales team. Unfortunately, the findings were too long to be useful in a value proposition so I turned them into list for a survey. Next, I created an online survey for the regional sales team to rank the importance of each benefit to their customers. As a result, the survey shortlisted a couple of options in the space of a few hours and were subsequently tested with the client’s customers as part of a complete value proposition.

In conclusion, just like LEGO bricks, break down the components of a value proposition before building it up. After that, make use templates as a guide to reassemble your components. Finally, ask for feedback from others. This way, you only need a little time and creativity to create a value proposition masterpiece.

Samantha Shuttleworth is the Founder and Head of Consulting for CalibrateM – a Product Strategy and Product Marketing consultancy based in Singapore. Check out her blog for more tips.