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How to create a unique value proposition

Your value proposition is what sets you apart from the competition. Make sure you have one and that it's up to date.

Published: May 02, 2016

A unique value proposition (UVP) is a promise to customers to produce a benefit that they can't get anywhere else. Most businesses don't have one but they should. Here's why.

Why a unique value proposition is important

If you're like most startups, you're on a mission to help people through your business. The UVP is the vehicle to communicate your mission to customers.

Your UVP tells the world — and your team — what you stand for and why you're a good bet.

You use your UVP everywhere: prominently on your website, in your business plan, for investor pitches and client presentations, and encoded in the vertebrae of your operations. It is your mantra and your reason for being, until it's time to evolve your business to a new phase.

Your UVP can give you other benefits, such as:

  • Helping you narrow your focus on certain customers

  • Making you concentrate on the one or two features that matter to your customers

  • Giving you the template for all sales and marketing text and phrasings

  • Defining your challenge to yourself and your team to make good on your promise to your customers

How to write a unique value proposition

To create your UVP, address eight areas. If you were to create a UVP for an online shoe company, for example, you might answer like this:

1. Name the type of customers you'd like to target.

  • Women between the ages of 19 and 33

2. Identify specific problems for which you will solve.

  • Not enough variety of shoes

  • The need for something distinct

3. List what customers will buy from you or what they should do to get your solution.

  • Buy shoes

  • Sign up for mailing list and discounts

4. Identify why they might not buy from you.

  • Won't buy without trying on

  • Expensive hassle to return packages

5. Identify who is already attempting to solve the problem.

  • Department stores: limited selection, inconvenience

  • Other online shoe stores: don't have a huge variety of shoes specifically for this customer

6. Explain why and how you have the fix.

  • Sell a wide variety of shoes — just for women aged 19-33 — in all different sizes and widths

  • Generous return policy

  • Free shipping

  • Easy-to-navigate website

7. List the specific benefits customers get from your product.

  • Shop for shoes anytime, anywhere

  • Try on at home

  • Easy returns

8. Now put it all together. Craft a topic sentence that stresses the actual product or service and the actual problem it solves. Explain the benefits in a few bullet points. Then wrap it up with a call to action that tells the customer what to do next.

Where the glass slipper always fits.

  • Best selection of shoe brands, styles, colors, and sizes for your inner princess

  • Free next-day shipping

  • Easy returns

Call, email, or click the chat button for a shoe specialist.

Once you've drafted your UVP, share it with 10 people — some potential customers, some not — and ask them what they expect to get from your business. Revise your UVP until you're proud of it, and include it in the executive summary of your business plan.

Then strive to fulfill the promises in your UVP every day.

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