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Why you need a UVP (and how to create one)

Nathan Cocks
  10 minute read

In the online space, where competitors are a click away, your website must communicate what makes you different to prospective clients/customers quickly and effectively. One of the most powerful ways of doing this is through a unique value proposition (also known as a unique selling proposition) statement.

Your unique value proposition (UVP) lets your prospects know why they should do business with you instead of your competitors and the benefits of doing so. A UVP statement is not a slogan. Instead, it is a statement that speaks to the core values of your offering, leaving no doubt in your visitor's minds as to why they are here and why they should stay.

The importance of a Unique Value Proposition

A well-constructed unique value proposition statement is a powerful tool in your online messaging that provides several benefits.

It provides context for the website experience

When your UVP is well integrated into your website messaging, it provides a context for the site experience that helps guide your users along your sales funnel. Your UVP provides website visitors with a clear, benefits-focused understanding of your offering without forcing them to work this information out independently.

It helps differentiate your offering

One of the biggest problems for any online business is that the Internet is an essentially frictionless medium. Website visitors can 'comparison shop' easily, so differentiating yourself from your competition is essential. Your UVP can operate not only to establish that your offering is different but that it is better than the competition.

It aligns your offering with your visitor's needs

When competing marketing messages bombard your potential customers, the one that speaks most directly to their needs is the one that gets noticed. Your UVP is your opportunity to show you understand what your visitors value and that you alone are the best suited to deliver on those needs.

How to develop a Unique Value Proposition

There are as many ways to develop a unique value proposition as there are value propositions themselves. And, as you might have guessed, there is no single correct approach. However, the method suggested below forms a strong foundation you can expand upon with activities such as user research and value mapping to validate the direction of your UVP. Even without additional research and workshopping activities though, these steps will help you unearth the core values you want to promote to your website visitors.

Our approach is essentially a process of elimination. We start broad with an extensive range of potential value propositions and, with each step, remove those that fail to meet the objectives of a strong UVP.

We recommend going through this process in a workshop environment involving people from a wide range of roles in your organisation, to delve more deeply into what makes your product or service so unique. From executive management to front-of-line staff, everyone can positively contribute to the development of your UVP. The more varied the voices involved in its creation, the more likely your unique value proposition will speak to the true core of your business.

Understand your website visitors

Before establishing your UVP, you must understand who you are speaking to. A good value proposition is targeted; it speaks directly to the needs and aspirations of your visitors.

There are many different ways of understanding your visitors, from user research to persona creation exercises. An excellent place to start is to list your visitors’ needs (rational motivators), wants (emotional motivators) and fears (undesired outcomes).

Define the problem you are trying to solve

Whether you offer a product or a service, your offering exists to solve a problem. One of the most important things your UVP should do is communicate how you solve that problem. Before developing your UVP, you must have that problem clearly defined.

For example, Help Scout (an email collaboration tool) exists to solve the problems of the confusion and double-handling that occurs with multiple people managing a single email inbox, such as a support email.

In essence, how does your product or service make your customers’ lives easier?

List benefits and features

The next step is to brainstorm all the positive aspects of your offering, focusing on those that deal with the problem defined in the previous step. The goal here is to get as many ideas on paper as possible, so don't worry about filtering anything out just yet.

Start by listing all the features of your product or service offering. Once you have all your features written, adopt a customer-centric point of view and list each feature's benefits. Features are how benefits are derived; a focus on benefits is typically more compelling than a focus on features. This is because people are generally more interested in what they get out of a product or service, than they are in how that benefit is created or delivered.

Remove anything that isn't unique

The goal of developing a UVP is to differentiate yourself from the competition, so benefits that your competitors can claim or easily emulate won’t be useful to you.

Similarly, remove anything that would be a baseline expectation in the eyes of your visitors. Many businesses say they have "great customer service" or "putting the customer first", but your clients often already expect these things as a standard proposition. Unless something like "good customer service" is really a rarity in your market, you should leave it out.

Remove anything your website visitors do not value

Don't forget who you are targeting your UVP for. Review what you established about your visitors in the first step and ask the following questions about each of your listed benefits:

  • Does this address any of our visitors’ needs?

  • Does this satisfy any of our visitors’ wants?

  • Does this counter any of our visitors’ fears?

If the individual benefits listed can't answer ‘yes’ to at least one of the above questions, remove it from your list. It’s not going to add value or impact.

Prioritise your list

By now, you will have a list of features and benefits that are unique to your organisation and are likely to be valued by your customers.

The next step is to refine that list to a handful of core benefits that:

  • differentiate you the most; and

  • are of the most value to your visitors.

Craft your UVP

You now have all you need to start crafting your unique value proposition statement. Remember, a UVP is not a slogan but a statement that speaks to the core of your offering. If you can fit that into a catchy phrase, fantastic, great. However, it is far more critical that your statement highlights what makes your offering special and distinct in a way your visitors can easily understand.

Test your UVP

Once you have your UVP, we’d highly recommend testing it.

Organise a group of people unfamiliar with your offering and present your UVP to them. Gather their initial thoughts and then query them to gauge their understanding of the following:

  • The value of your offering

  • How they believe your offering will benefit them

  • What differentiates your offering from the competition

Their responses will provide valuable feedback to validate your UVP or provide insight into areas where you can change and improve it.

If you have multiple potential UVPs, consider running an A/B test on your homepage or an offer-based landing page to see which generates the most leads/sales/etc.

How to use your unique value proposition

An obvious location to communicate your UVP is your website's homepage and other key landing pages on your site. Your UVP sets the context for the rest of your visitor's interactions, so you want them to understand (at least in a broad sense) why they are on your site in the first place.

Your UVP should be the first and most prominent thing a visitor sees when landing on your site, so don't be afraid to make that statement the hero of key entry content.

But a UVP is more than just a concise summary of what makes you great. It is something your organisation should live and breathe. Your site content should reinforce the values and benefits your UVP espouses. When developing website copy, look for opportunities to prove you don't just talk the talk. You don't need to reference your UVP explicitly in deeper content.

Final words

Value propositions are important. Visitors come to your website to understand why they need your product or service; it is your job to tell them.

If you don't tell your visitors why they should do business with you, they will go to someone who will.

Don't keep your value proposition to yourself; shout it from the rooftops. Display it on key entry pages, and reinforce those values through everything you do. If your value proposition is compelling, unique and speaks to your visitor's real needs, your business will only benefit.

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