The recipe to write a CLEAR value proposition for your startup

The recipe to write a CLEAR value proposition for your startup

The recipe to write a CLEAR value proposition for your startup

A value proposition is a clear statement that explains how your product solves your customer’s problem, delivers specific benefits, and tells your target tribe why they should buy from you and not from the competition.

Example for Pitchblak: Prove your idea is viable to get investment BEFORE building a product.

Spotify’s value proposition is pretty simple.

Spotify value prop

The value proposition is often followed by 1-2 sentences of further explanation.

Slack value proposition

It will help you write the header and subheading text on your website, which is the most important for grabbing attention and converting your web traffic into leads or sales.

Squarespace uses alternating headings on their website to suit different tribes, although the value prop stays the same. It’s easy to understand what they offer and why it will benefit you.

Squarespace value proposition
Squarespace value proposition
Squarespace value proposition
Squarespace value proposition


The formula for coming up with a clear value proposition

To get to the value proposition, we need to rewind for a moment.

Let’s revisit the core aspects of your business.

  1. In ONE sentence, describe the problem you are solving for the customer. Don’t mention the solution at all, focus on the actual pain points people are experiencing.

    Bad example for Pitchblak: Entrepreneurs need help from mentors. 

    This is a bad example because it alludes to a solution and doesn't describe the problem behind why entrepreneurs need help from mentors.

    Good example for Pitchblak: Entrepreneurs are wasting time and money making huge mistakes resulting in painful failure for the entrepreneur and their family, friends, and investors.
  2. In ONE sentence, what is the biggest pain point about the current behaviour? This is often related to wasting time, money, or effort.

    Example for Pitchblak: Time and money

  3. In ONE sentence, write your solution (we call this a product hypothesis) for how your product or service solves this problem.

    Bad example for Pitchblak: We are transforming the startup journey for entrepreneurs.

    This is a bad example because it's not a solution and tells the reader nothing about your business.

    Good example for Pitchblak: A startup institution that supports entrepreneurs through the first 12-18 months of their journey.

  4. Now in 2-3 sentences, explain how your solution works.

    Example for Pitchblak:

    We help entrepreneurs prove people want their idea BEFORE they build a product. We do this by running experiments and designing solid brand. Both of these aspects are crucial in raising money from investors.

  5. If only 1,000 people could use this product, what specific type of people would use it?

    Entrepreneurs who have ran their own business before. They've made crucial mistakes already and know they need a killer team around them to get their startup idea off the ground. People who have already dealt with a lot of rejection in their life and have become extremely resilient.

  6. Now think about the the value you will provide. What benefit is your customer receiving?

    Guy Kawasaki uses the [verb; application; differentiator] framework.

    Airbnb uses this format well. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 10.03.30 AM.png

We also really like this format: “We help [customer] do [the main value] by [how you do it]” 

Example for Pitchblak: We help [entrepreneurs] [raise money before building a product] by [running experiments to prove people want the product].

As an entrepreneur, it’s natural for you to be excited about ALL the features and possibilities of your product. You need to be able to separate your excitement about the entire product itself and the actual value you provide.

Our sister company Edison explains this really well as ‘the pointy end’ (see the pyramid below), or the ONE thing you offer that customers really want and is often connected to your point of difference. 

Edison brand pyramid

Pitchblak's pointy end is to help entrepreneurs get investment. We also help with other advisory work, design, online education, and so on. But if we positioned ourselves as doing all these things it would be confusing for brand.

An overarching rule you should use for anything you write about your business, whether it’s a website, marketing copy, or emails to literally anyone is:

"Would a 12 year old understand this?"

Using big words does not make you sound smarter or make your product sound better. You never want to make someone feel stupid, otherwise you lose the listener right away. Investors especially don't appreciate this. 

Pretend there is a 12 year old following you around. How would you explain something to them in simple, easy to understand terms and concepts?

Create intrigue without being over explaining or being too mysterious.

You don’t need to give it all away by explaining every single feature and benefit. You also don’t want to be too vague that people don’t understand what you do.

Stay away from filler words, jargon, and ‘marketing speak’.

Words like 'disrupt' or 'transform' don’t mean anything. If you are starting a business you should be able to tell me HOW you’re transforming or disrupting without actually saying it.

Transforming transformation? Soooo innovative! Screenshot from the  CB Insights newsletter .

Transforming transformation? Soooo innovative!
Screenshot from the CB Insights newsletter.

To end, here are a few more screenshots of companies who do it well. 

culture amp value proposition
pipedrive value proposition
Airtable value proposition
Luminosity value proposition