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Value Proposition Variations for Marketing Execution

January 30, 2019

Personalized messaging and digital execution require persona-based value propositions that capture buyers’ attention and entice them to seek engagement

Success in b-to-b marketing depends on attracting buyers by standing out among multiple providers. A value proposition conveys how a product or service offering addresses the audience’s buying needs and the provider’s unique advantages. Marketers can increase their odds of engaging various buyer personas by adapting their value propositions to a variety of tactics suited to persona preferences. In this issue of SiriusPerspectives, we describe how to create value proposition variations for use in marketing tactics.

The Components of a Value Proposition

To construct value statements that resonate with buyers, portfolio marketers must first identify the five components that make up a value proposition for an offering.

  • Audience. The audience component represents the individuals and entities that benefit from the offering (e.g. IT leader [persona], large enterprise [organization type], healthcare [industry]). By starting with the audience in mind, marketers can craft value propositions that focus on attracting buyers and enticing them to engage rather than value propositions that are simply product descriptions in disguise.
  • Need. Once the audience has been identified, the next step is to pinpoint their most urgent needs. The need component helps marketers center the value proposition on what the persona cares about and whether it is at the organizational, functional or individual level.
  • Assertion. The assertion component explains how the offering fulfills the buyer’s need by solving a problem, delivering an intended result or enabling the realization of an opportunity. Portfolio marketers must avoid defining the assertion as the feature or functionality of the offering.
  • Outcome. The outcome component supports the assertion component and is the quantitative or qualitative results that the audience can realize. Strong outcomes such as performance stats and benchmark data validate the buyer’s trust or perception that the provider can deliver on its assertion.
  • Distinction. The element of distinction is what makes the value proposition stand apart from those of other providers. What is the benefit to the buyer that only the provider can claim? The distinction component can be related to the provider’s market position, capabilities or core competencies. This component can also be an attribute of the offering, such as unmatched performance or patented technology.

Variations of the Value Proposition

Once the five components are identified, marketers can stitch them together to create the value statement, which should be two to three sentences and about 50 words. While this format encapsulates the intent and positioning of value propositions, marketers should create additional variations that can be used as source messaging in different marketing program executions.

  • Fifteen-word value proposition. In a 15-word version of the value proposition, marketers can create a short sentence that emphasizes its assertion and outcome components. Using a second-person point of view and active verbs, marketers can establish a connection with the audience and help them envision the actions they could take to realize value.
  • Ten-word value proposition. Sentences or phrases of 10 words are easy to read and retain. This is generally the word count for print and online headlines in an effort to appeal to readers who like to scan before they invest the time to read. The more condensed 10-word variation of the value proposition conveys its essence – in particular, the outcomes with the most impact at the business level.
  • Five-word value proposition. Because this variation is the shortest format, each word must be carefully selected to compose a gripping teaser that draws in the target audience. While the second-person point of view can be used in any variation, the message must be personalized as it fully communicates the value the provider can deliver.

Although the variations are short and simple, creating them is not always an easy exercise. Invite the creative minds on the brand and marketing team to collaborate on the creation of value proposition variations. Emphasize the right value proposition components, select the most appropriate point of view and devise catchy word combinations that deliver the point succinctly. The final output should convey the value proposition in multiple ways (e.g. written, spoken) but remain consistent with the original intent. Avoid the temptation to create long variations. While there may be additional uses (e.g. boilerplate copy) for the value proposition, once marketers create variations of more than 25 words, they risk reverting to the complete value statement and the offering description.

Activating the Value Proposition

Value propositions and their variations have great impact in marketing programs. Portfolio marketers should invite campaign and demand marketers to collaborate in the messaging development process and to ensure that marketing tactics align with persona interaction and content preferences. Additionally, value proposition variations can be used across many common digital and in-person executions. In the following cases, variations can be used before delivering the final value proposition.

  • Email subject line. The quality of the subject line has a huge influence on whether or not the recipient opens and reads the email. Marketers must spend time crafting subject lines that compel the recipient to click through and read the entire email. The 15-word value proposition variation can be leveraged as a provocative statement or an attention-grabbing question. The shorter 10-word and five-word variations can work well in creating intrigue and strong first impressions.
  • Web page. Visitors may arrive at a Web page through several means (e.g. searching keywords, typing in a known URL, clicking through a banner ad or referral link). The headline on the Web page should validate that the visitor is in the right place and entice him or her to read and interact with the content. The 10-word variation can serve this purpose with a longer word count to highlight the outcome components of the value proposition.
  • Event booth. To stand out on the trade show floor and capture attendees’ attention, marketers must sharpen their message and how it is displayed. The five-word variation of the value proposition can be effective in this context. However, it must be punchy and appeal to attendees’ curiosity so that they take the next step to learn more about the message.

The Sirius Decision

B-to-b offering descriptions often masquerade as value propositions. These statements usually lack audience insights and the acknowledgement of the buyer’s need. By using the five components of audience, need, assertion, outcome and distinction, marketers can avoid this pitfall and ensure their messaging doesn’t dwell on features and functionality. Although these components can be used in any sequence to stitch together the value proposition statement, providers must start the composition with the audience and need components so that their focus remains on what will resonate with the persona.