I rewrote 7 unclear value propositions for real startups
In a recent post, I wrote the recipe for writing a clear value proposition. I used a lot of examples from large companies like Spotify and Squarespace, but as a small startup it can be difficult to relate to a massive company that has a marketing team.
I thought it might be helpful to do a round two and use some real examples from early-stage Australian startups who are struggling to explain their business.
The examples below include common mistakes most entrepreneurs make in the early days.
I've written my honest feedback and given an example of a new value proposition that is simple and clear.
My first tip is don’t be too creative with the structure of your website. The top of this website felt distracting as it has a headline but also some a list benefits.
There is a reason most large companies focus on having just a great headline, sometimes a subheading and always a ‘call to action’ on their website. It works.
I also found the ‘co-planning’ title at the top confusing. Once you click on it, it takes you to a page explaining “what is co-planning?” If people don’t know that word, it’s probably not helping to have it as a main button on your menu.
As a headline and subheading, I like:
Bring your staff rostering into 2018.
Shiftiez helps you create fair and simple rosters in minutes.
This one really threw me. It’s difficult to understand what this startup does when you land on the page. 'Explore Your City' sounds like a travel startup.
The majority of early-stage startups position themselves too broadly. They try to be everything to everyone.
Talentree isn’t too bad a name if the idea is around people learning new talents. Though trying to tackle so many categories from the start is a mistake; arts & crafts, dance, music, health and fitness… the list goes on.
To start, just choose one to be good at.
For example, be the best in Melbourne for linking people with arts and crafts classes.
It’s focused, and it means you can really overdeliver as opposed to being spread thin across a ton of categories.
Then once you nail your first category and you have real traction, you can get further investment to:
a) begin tackling other categories (more ‘width’) or;
b) go deeper into building more features and value for the first category, as well as expanding the cities you offer your platform (more ‘depth).
I’d ditch the subheading and use this headline:
The ultimate guide to arts and craft classes in Melbourne.
This is incredibly clear and conveys your value proposition immediately.
Value proposition: 'Using data to bridge the gap between businesses and customer needs.'
In my last post about value propositions, I wrote about avoiding ‘marketing speak’ which is language that feels fluffy and often confuses the reader.
This line falls into this 'marketing speak trap.' After reading it, I don’t feel good. I feel like I know less about Anasolve than I did before reading it.
When I got more information I found the company was actually solving the problem of consumer complaints.
The intent is to capture consumer complaints in a way that is user-friendly (most processes are not) and help businesses better manage these issues using data analysis and reporting.
So your headline is simply:
Turn your customer complaints into gold.
‘Human-centric digital developer’ sounds fancy but, trust me, your target market doesn't know what you mean!
We need something simple that really sets you apart from what is becoming a commoditised industry.
A possible heading and subheading could be:
Your website should be your #1 salesperson.
We turn your online presence into a something that actually delivers leads and sales.
There seems to be a big misconception from founders that ‘all in one’ or the ‘everything app’ is attractive to customers.
When it comes to positioning, it’s important to avoid this at all costs. No one wants ‘everything’ because it feels vague and unspecial.
"It's 2018. You get the best prices online for phones, clothes & so much more - why not groceries too?"
Phone and fashion price comparisons are not clear examples could be confusing users.
Websites and apps that help with price comparison are called ‘aggregates’. And the most common aggregates for a consumer to understand would be things in the flights and accommodation space (like Skyscanner.com).
My suggestion is to only have a headline (no subheading):
Get the best pricing and specials on groceries near you.
You can see here the ‘pointy end’ (which I explained in my last post on value props) is around savings. The shopping list and other additional features aren’t as likely to grab attention.
So for this startup, I’d suggest making sure your positioning is around the savings, and then the other features are value-adds that you can discover further down the page.
Make sure your heading and/or subheading is 'above the fold', which means in the first section I don’t need to scroll down to read what you do.
Having ‘consulting’ in your business name but then finding out you are chartered accountants is fairly confusing. I haven’t seen many accountants position themselves as consultants. It's not bad but it certainly caught me off guard.
Less exciting industries like accounting need to emphasise your 'why' (why you do what you do). Everyone in the finance space always goes straight to their 'what' (or services). People don’t buy your 'what', they buy your 'why'.
A personal story from the founder could work well in showing why you started Daxcel, why you care about helping business owners, and why you are different. This would work 10x better on video, but could also be text on the website.
You also mention ‘enter predictive accounting’ which sounds cool but it's not clear. I’m assuming it’s something about being proactive as opposed to reactive like many accountants are. If so, that angle could work well. Your headline could be:
"Finally, proactive accountants who truly care about my success."
And the ‘hero image’ (meaning the image at the top of your website, which is currently a quite uninspiring compass) could be a person smiling. So the headline quote will link with that photo to seem like they are a customer saying it about your firm.
After speaking to the founder, they are in the midst of a pivot to the retirement space to focus on successful aging. The goal is to help a new retiree live a fulfilling, exciting, and community-driven life.
Taking this into consideration, the headline on the current page doesn't make sense so here are a couple of headlines that work well with the new direction.
Two possible headlines could be:
Retiring is when the real fun begins!
Retire from work, but never retire from fun!