Sure, you think it’s great. That’s because you’ve had endless internal meetings arguing the toss over which meaningless sentence captures the right sentiment. You’ve all aligned around some kind of buzzword, claim or cliche and you’re convinced the world’s gonna love it. So you stick it up on your shiny new homepage, sit back, and wait for the leads to roll in.
They’re gonna roll in now, right?... Right?
The truth is, most of your leads come in despite your agency’s value proposition, not because of it. Look, a strong value prop isn’t the key to making millions instantly. It’s not the secret weapon that’ll 10x your whole life bro. It’s not the absolute make or break for your business.
But a strong value proposition that actually tells, sells and compels increases your chances of closing clients. Average that percentage increase over 12 months and that means more client wins. Add a monetary value to these wins, and suddenly a few simple sentences start to seem pretty damn valuable.
Erm, awkward, but what do you actually mean by value proposition?
Well, the laser-smart Peep Laja at says “A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered. It’s the primary reason a prospect should buy from you.”
And relentless content spouters Hubspot say “Your company’s value proposition is the core of your competitive advantage. It clearly articulates why someone would want to buy from your company instead of a competitor.”
These are great definitions. It’s also worth noting that for most agencies, your value proposition will be the first text clients see when they land on your website. Normally it’s the big headline that hits them straight away, plus some subheader or paragraph copy that goes on to expand and explain more. Of course, you can use a good value proposition elsewhere - but your site is the most common place to leverage it.
So I just need a kickass copywriter to nail our value proposition, right?
Not straight away. Most agencies rush to the writing part, assuming that a proper copywriter will be able to polish their dull ideas with shiny words. It rarely works. Of course, you’ll need some decent writing chops towards the end but a great value proposition isn’t just about style, it’s about strategy. If the aim is to communicate the value clients get from choosing you over the others, then you need to know a lot about two things; your clients and your competitors.
First, tell people what your agency actually does
You’d be surprised how many agencies assume that people know what they do. They bury this vital information further down or on separate web pages. Sure, you don’t want to box yourself in when you’re capable of delivering all these amazing services - but that’s not how clients think of you. They subconsciously categorise agencies, so let them know if they’re in the right place or not. Basically, just tell people what you do in the simplest way possible. Then you can do the sexy stuff with selling the value after.
Then write your value proposition for exactly who you want
On the surface this all sounds simple so far. Of course you know your clients, they’re the people you work with daily. They’re a sort of homogenous, mushy group of people who give you money for work. Or maybe they’re split into meaningless buckets like ‘B2B business’ or ‘ambitious brands’.
But, do you know the kind of clients you really want, not just the ones you get?
Your value proposition should work like an intelligent magnet, attracting the right clients in and repelling the wrong ones. And this means making some decisions about exactly who you want to work with. This is a huge strategic and business choice that goes way beyond just writing. So sit down, argue, decide and commit. Because if you’re not speaking to someone pretty specific, you’ll struggle to communicate why they should choose you over anyone else.
And once you know who you’re speaking to, sell them the sizzle not just the steak
The ‘value’ in your value proposition has to be compelling and exciting for clients. If they’re in the market for SEO services, it’s pretty much a given that all SEO agencies could lead with the value of getting them ranked higher on search engines. And while that’s a solid value to sell, it’s also fucking obvious to anyone with half a brain. So then you need to think deeper. The value you sell doesn’t have to be the obvious choice.
‘Value’ can work on a rational level; more sales, speed to market, cost effectiveness etc. But it can also work on an emotional level; avoid frustration, impress your boss, bring joy to the world etc.
Most agencies tend to either choose the easiest rational benefit (obvious, cliche, generic) or some lofty emotional value (abstract, confusing, meaningless). The magic is somewhere in the middle, hitting a specific point that resonates with the right people.
Finding that specific point is the hard bit, but also the key to a killer value proposition. You’ll need to speak to ideal clients, get into their headspace, understand their work and their world, then have the guts to go all in one value - not hedging your bets by throwing everything at them.
Speak to potential clients, not at them, and about yourself
Look at your agency’s current value proposition. Bet it starts with the word We. Because naturally it makes sense that you need to tell people about you and your agency. But this isn’t actually true. The reality is that clients don’t care about your agency, they care about their problems, ambitions, dreams, targets, pressures, sales, cashflow, brand etc. So your value proposition needs to talk to them, about them. Use the words You and Your. Open with a verb that drops them straight into what they want to achieve. Eg. “Attract more visitors to your attraction with specialist digital marketing”
Lean in to what makes you different, distinctive or more exciting than your competitors
If you actually have something that sets you apart, then for fuck’s sake sell it in. Let’s say you do digital ads but people only pay when they work. That’s pretty distinctive, so put it front and centre as part of your value proposition. Maybe you have a process, methodology, specific ideal client, cause, belief, fight, perspective or personality that is genuinely interesting to clients. If you do, then showcase it. Not as a tiny line on your About page, but as the big-ticket item clients see immediately.
Too much hassle and not enough headspace?
Value propositions are hard. Mostly because it’s tough to see your agency with fresh eyes again. You’re so deep in the day-to-day details that you end up selling the wrong stuff. Stuff that only you know or care about. Or the opposite, where you plump for the most obvious value that everyone else could claim.
Urgh, so what’s the answer?
Well, if you want to watch some awful webinar thing where we drunkenly ramble about writing a better agency value proposition - then sign up here: https://www.treacle.agency/value-proposition-webinar
And regret it later.