We received two similar questions from readers within a few hours of each other. Do you have a framework for assessing an existing value proposition? How do I check a value prop I’m working on?
You A/B testers would know that is not a valid sample size. 😉
But the proximity of two similar questions led us to drop our data obsession for just a moment, hope for a little kismet in the world, and write the following article to help you with your value propositions.
Read on for a specific value prop assessment example with results.
This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
The ultimate arbiter of a value proposition’s effectiveness is the customer. And for that reason, the best way to assess an existing value proposition is by testing it with your ideal customer (You can learn more about how to test in the MarketingExperiments video A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Creating an A/B Test).
But before you test your existing value prop, you need to create a treatment (or several treatments) to test against it. Or you may not have the resources to test and are simply looking for a general idea of how effective your company’s or client’s existing value prop is. Or you may just want assistance checking a value proposition you are currently working on.
MECLABS Institute has coalesced extensive value proposition research – conducting thousands of tests and reviewing more than 1,100 academic articles – into a simple framework that can help you assess a new or existing value prop (MECLABS is the parent research organization of MarketingSherpa).
Before we assess a value prop, let’s get clear on what we mean by value proposition. It’s not your headline. Or your slogan.
According to MECLABS, a value proposition is the answer to the question, “If I am your ideal customer, why should I buy from you, rather than your competitor?”
The headline and slogan and every other message your customer receives should be expressions of this value proposition.
According to MECLABS methodology, a powerful value proposition should rankly highly on these four elements – appeal, exclusivity, clarity, and credibility.
Let’s look at a simple definition of each in the customer’s language:
While we only have the room to include a high-level explanation of each element in this article, feel free to click on the above links to get a more in-depth explanation of each element.
If you want to assess an existing value prop, review the messaging the company distributes to its ideal customer – on the home page, landing pages, in advertisements, email, etc. And then write down the answer to the value proposition question.
If you are creating a new value prop, this will be even easier because you will be writing down the answer to this question before expressing it on any website or in any marketing collateral.
Then put together a simple sheet with the four elements of a forceful value proposition and rank each element from one (least forceful) to five (most forceful). It’s even better to train other members in your department, team, or client on these elements to get multiple rankings and average them out.
Creative Sample #1: Framework for assessing a value proposition
MECLABS was engaged in conversion marketing services with a provider of end-to-end market solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses. The company wanted to increase the email capture rate of an online form on the below landing page.
Creative Sample #2: Control (previous landing page)
Based on the above landing page, I would sum up the value proposition as follows.
If I am your ideal customer, why should I fill out the form to receive “free” leads and be contacted by a business consultant?
“Because you no longer have to hunt for accurate mailing lists. We are offering 500 free leads (if you make a qualifying purchase) and have the most accurate mailing lists.”
This is my summation of the value proposition communicated on the page. Yours may differ slightly. Using the value proposition assessment framework, I would rate this value prop with a total score of nine.
Creative Sample #3: Assessment of example value prop
I would rate the appeal a three. Assuming the ideal customer is looking for a mailing list, it would be appealing to get accurate leads, and getting 500 free leads in addition to whatever you purchase. I would knock a point off for how it handles the communication of those “free” leads however. In the right-hand column, the headline says “Register Today To Get Your 500 Free Leads!” In the left-hand column, the second-headline states “Get 500 Free Leads Today” with the italicized line below it finally explaining “with Qualifying Purchase.” This feels like a bit of a gotcha. However, the condition for getting the free leads is quite prominently stated.
I think the exclusivity is a two. While no other company may provide this exact offer, there are many, many other places to get a very similar offer.
Clarity is a three. The initial headline is a little confusing (do customers really consider themselves on a hunt for leads?), however the subhead clearly states the free lead offer.
Credibility only rates a one (and this is where many, many brands struggle). The second subhead brags about the “best data guaranteed” and the headline states “most accurate mailing lists.” By why should I believe any of it? There are some credibility indicators hidden in the body copy – in other words, hidden value.
And in fact, the MECLABS team leveraged that hidden value when it created a treatment landing page.
Creative Sample #4: Treatment (new) landing page
The treatment landing page was built off of the following value proposition…
If I am your ideal customer, why should I fill out the form to receive free leads and be contacted by a business consultant?
“Because we have the most comprehensive1 and accurate2 lead database.”
Using the value proposition assessment framework, this value proposition has been rated as having a total score of 17.
Creative Sample #5: Assessment of treatment value prop
The appeal for this offer is a little higher – a four. Getting access to the most comprehensive and accurate lead database is ultimately what the ideal customer for this landing page is after. The focus here is much more on the core appeal, and less trying to lure people in with the incentive (when the incentive is mentioned, it should be noted that it is communicated as being added to the purchase and not free on its own).
The exclusivity is much higher – a five. This value proposition includes footnotes with specific information. While there are many other places to get lead information, none of those competitors make 26 million phone calls a year to ensure the accuracy of information about 210 million U.S. consumers, 14 million U.S. businesses, and 13 million executives.
The clarity ranks higher as well. This treatment value proposition eschews the persuasive come-on line about your hunt being over and makes a straightforward claim that these are the most accurate mailing lists available.
Credibility ranks much higher as well. This was the area where the control struggled the most. While the original value prop just made claims about accuracy and the quality of the data, this new version provides specific information to help the customer believe why the information they buy will be accurate – because there is a team of 600 researchers that verify the data daily and make over 26 million verification calls a year, 80,000 calls a day.
The MECLABS team ran the control and treatment against each other in an A/B split test, and the treatment increased total leads (captured emails) by 201%.
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