Creating a Value Proposition That Competes With Billion Dollar Businesses (infographic)

Let’s talk value propositions. They are short, sweet and to the point. Value propositions are often one of the most difficult marketing aspects for start-up business to draft when identifying their purpose. They need to be precise while still communicating all the incredible things a company does in about ten syllables or less. If you’re an entrepreneur, this task may feel like it’s nearly impossible, especially for businesses that offer multiple products or services. Have no fear! We’re here to share a few tips on writing value propositions that compete with those of billion-dollar companies.

Value propositions can be defined as the core of your marketing messaging. A few characteristics of value propositions include (1) they communicate what your company does (2) they explain the problem your product or service is solving (3) they tend to be ten syllables or less. This dos and don’ts list from CleverTap serves as a great tool when drafting your first or editing your current value proposition. They break down twenty one value propositions from different billion dollar companies and their findings are significant. A few of these companies include Airbnb, Evernote, Twitter, Pandora, and Postmates.

First, let’s look at some of these billion dollar value propositions and identify what makes their value propositions unique.

Airbnb, put simply, is a hospitality service. Airbnb allows people across the world find or offer their homes as lodging. This increases consumer’s options when traveling and the number of hotel companies' competitors. In addition to Airbnb’s services, their value proposition is considered competitive to many. Airbnb’s value proposition reads “Book unique homes and experiences.” Something unique about Airbnb is they have multiple target audiences and they personalize how the add value to their members. For example, Airbnb identifies the monthly income an average host could earn based on what city the home is located. By adding a level of personalization to their value proposition, Airbnb thrives in today’s marketplace. This leads to one of CleverTap’s tips: separately address the value you add to each audience when dealing with multiple target audiences.

Evernote is software designed for notetaking, organizing, and more. Evernote helps people stay organized professionally at work and socially with friends. Evernote is an excellent example of a company addresses two problems in one value proposition. Evernote’s value proposition reads “Feel organized without the effort.” The two problems Evernote address are (1) some people find it difficult to stay organized (2) some people find staying organized takes up too much time. It is clear that Evernote puts a strong amount of effort and time into designing this value proposition. This leads to another one of CleverTap’s tips: companies that have products or services that strive to increase productivity make it known in your value statement.

Twitter is a social media platform commonly recognized for their blue bird logo. Twitter’s ultimate goal is to connect people to real time and this shows in their value proposition—reading: “See what’s happening in the world right now.” This is inline with their goal as a company and their message is widely understood my many people across the globe. A meaningful takeaway from Twitter’s value proposition is to consider how your product or service changes the world. This can help you with hitting the ten syllables or less component of writing a value proposition. Another tip CleverTap mentions is to use inclusive language. Above the “Sign Up” button on Twitter’s homepage, lives the phrase “Join Twitter today.” Twitter’s choice to use the word “join” gives their users a sense of belonging. This may be something you want to consider when drafting your value proposition.

Pandora is a music streaming service that helps people find new music through their automated recommendations and has exceptional cross-platform availability. Pandora is a great example of a company that does not oversell their service. In this example, overselling is exaggerating or promising something your product or service can do when it simply doesn’t. Using words like always can be worrisome because products can break or malfunction. Pandora’s value proposition reads “Listen anywhere, anytime.” The words “anywhere” and “anytime” could be dangerous for other companies to use. For Pandora, it works. Pandora allows its users to stream music online and offline. This allows people to stream music anywhere at any time. Which leads up to the next tip: include information that supports the claim your company is making.

If you are sold on using “always” statements in your value proposition it’s important to include a disclaimer. An example of a company that does this is Postmates. Postmates is a logistics company that delivers goods including groceries, take-out and alcohol. Postmates’ value proposition reads “Anything, anytime, anywhere. We get it.” Now that’s a pretty bold statement. It is known Postmates truly doesn’t deliver “anything”, so why did they use it? Postmates can get away with making this statement because they include the disclaimer “Foods, drinks and groceries available for delivery or pickup.” directly below their value proposition on their homepage. If Postmates did not include this disclaimer, it’s highly likely Postmates would experience legal accusations.

Now that we’ve gone over a few value proposition examples, let’s discuss some general tips and tricks. CleverTap’s infographic is a great starting point for this. CleverTap starts by giving a basic value proposition definition and highlights seven tips to writing a proper value proposition. If you do not have time to read all twenty one examples, the infographic below breaks it down to the basics while still sharing examples of billion dollar companies. Now that’s how you add value!

The first tip is to state the problem and identify what solutions your company offers. Some consumers do not initially get what a company does from their value proposition. By clarifying what problem you are solving, consumers can easily identify what your product or service does. An example of a company that does this well is GoodRx. GoodRx value proposition reads “Stop paying too much for your prescriptions.” The problem GoodRx distinguishes is people pay more than they should for prescriptions. Consumers can trust GoodRx will connect them to cheaper prescription options, thus adding value to consumers that may experience this problem.

The second tip is to focus on your target audience's mission. The objective of this tip is to inspire your target audience to be better. Inspiring your audience can increase customer retention. An example of a company that inspires their audience is Khan Academy. Khan Academy's value proposition is “You can learn anything.” By using the word “can”, Khan Academy increases confidence among their audiences. This shows consumers that Khan Academy will invest in their education and reveals how they add value.

The third tip is to balance semantics and syllables. As stated earlier, value propositions should be around ten syllables or less. Remember you want to be short, sweet and to the point. Having a lengthier value proposition could increase confusion among your target audience. An example of a company that has a four syllable value proposition is Shopify: “Build Your Business.” This shows simplicity while still giving their audience a call to action. Value propositions don’t always have to be this simple; however, they prove to add value when done well.

The fourth tip is to appeal to the majority of your market. This means identifying demographics, psychographics, language barriers, etc. Creating a value proposition that’s versatile across many demographics can help increase your audience's understanding of your product or service. An example of a company that appeals to a large market is Zocdoc. Zocdoc’s value proposition reads “Find doctors in your network.” — direct and easy for a majority of people to understand. If your product or service can serve a broad population, this could be a great strategy for your company.

The fifth tip is not to oversell your product or service. Be realistic, but strive for challenging goals. An example of a company that does this well is Instacart: “Groceries delivered in as little as 1 hour.” By not promising an exact delivery time of 1 hour, Instacart saves their company from lawsuits and frustrated consumers.

The sixth tip is to add contextual images. Not every company does this, but it could elevate your value proposition. Nextdoor states: “Discover Your Neighborhood” — including an image of two people smiling in a park. This image can spark an emotion within consumers and deepen a connection with consumers. Additionally, this can assist in controlling how consumers interpret your value proposition.

Lastly, you’ll want to name your company within the value proposition. HotelTonight reflects this strategy well. When you first read “HotelTonight,” many expect to book a hotel the same day as their search. This type of value proposition is highly competitive and not common. However, this could be a way for a start-up to stand apart from the rest of its competitors.

Now that you know the tips and are familiar with some value propositions from billion dollar companies, it’s your turn to show the world the value of your company!

Notable Value Proposition Examples and Takeaways From Billion Dollar Companies

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