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How to Write Effective Value Propositions
By Stephanie Tilton, Ten Ton Marketing

Is your sales force clearly articulating the benefits and results of using your products or services?

If you send your sales reps out the door without strong value propositions in hand, you are undermining their efforts. Value propositions are the foundation of all communications about a company's offering. Think of them as "elevator pitches" - concise, compelling statements that convey the essence of a product or service, most notably, how your offering addresses a business pain or need. Ultimately, you need to explain how you improve a situation for the customer - and the more personal you can make the value, the better.

Effective value propositions answer the following questions:
  1. What are the buyer's problems and issues?
  2. How does our solution/service address those issues and concerns?
  3. Have we clearly explained how the buyer benefits from the solution, specifically, how it impacts his or her particular area of responsibility?
Answering these questions requires some upfront work to identify and analyze the buyer in your target market. You need to understand what drives these people to ultimately choose a particular solution. That means you need to comprehend the following:
  • Title: What is the person's area of responsibility within the company?
  • Role: What part do they play in making a decision about purchasing a solution? Is he or she the decision maker, the one who approves or influences a purchase, or the one who signs the purchase order?
  • Benefits sought: What benefits does the person expect to see by resolving his or her business issues?
With a clear understanding of these points, you can craft value propositions using the following formula. Remember, you might need to develop multiple messages for each buyer. And you certainly need value propositions for each relevant role within an organization.

First Sentence (describes value)

  •  For (target customer)
  • who (statement of the need or opportunity),
  • the (product/service name) is a (product/service category)
  • that (statement of benefit).
Second Sentence (positions value)
  • Unlike (primary competitive alternative),
  • our offering (statement of primary differentiation).
Craft your positioning statements to be concise and memorable yet comprehensive enough to convey the benefits and unique value. And if at all possible, embed customer results into these statements to really drive home the value.

The following is a fictitious value proposition that follows this formula:

"For COOs who need to reduce overhead costs quickly, CubesAtHome is an office solution that enables employees to work from home immediately. Unlike leased office space, our offering helps organizations cut facility-related expenses by up to 85%."
Keep in mind the following:
  • Consider whether or not your strongest value proposition is tied to something beyond your product or service, such as the responsiveness of your organization
  • Highlight the way(s) in which your offering is superior to other alternatives
  • Don't promise what you can't deliver
By following this time-tested formula to create compelling value propositions, you'll be arming your sales force to win.


Stephanie Tilton has been immersed in the world of marketing for over 16 years, in roles as diverse as competitive analyst, marketing communications manager, and product marketing manager. Harnessing her unique blend of technical knowledge, marketing savvy, and writing skills, she has crafted winning communications for leading brands such as Akamai Technologies, EMC, Macromedia, Novell, SAP, and Symantec. Contact Stephanie directly at stilton@tentonmarketing.com or visit http://www.tentonmarketing.com for more information.

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