My friend, a happiness coach told me over coffee her business had stalled. “Explaining what I do is hard and probably impossible. Because I do so many things. I’m unmarketable.”
She couldn’t easily describe her business to attract new clients. And in her heart, she knew she should have an answer to: “What is it you do?”
In fact, her problem wasn’t she was unmarketable. Or that she used too many modalities or techniques.
Her problem was answering the wrong question
Because in reality, the actual and burning question people have… is unspoken.
They might ask you – “What is it you do?”
But they’re thinking – “Why should I work with you?”
Answering the unspoken question is a fixable marketing problem. Simply, it’s how you describe your business.
Here’s the thing though, as marketers, first we have to reword their question. To find out exactly what our answer should include.
If I’m your ideal client – why should I choose you and not someone else?
Now we see they’re asking a Why question. Why should she choose you? To work with? Or buy from?
This question breaks down into 3 areas you can find specific answers for:
- Understand your ideal client’s needs and desires
- Know the value you bring your clients
- Know what you offer that no one else does
Your answer to this question is a value proposition – in marketing-speak. It’s a statement that about what a client can expect from you. Your value proposition guides your marketing.
A strong value proposition is how you attract customers to your website or retail store – any business.
Without a strong value proposition your audience remains confused, resistant and uncertain.
If your audience doesn’t know why they should choose you, they’ll never make headway to becoming clients.
You’ll see here how by using the 5-step VASTT process you can create a strong value proposition for your business. Use the provided worksheets and templates to discover what makes you valuable to your audience.
And how you stand apart from others in your space.
When your marketing clearly focuses on your audience, they’ll willingly spend more time on your website. Or talking with you.
VASTT — 5 Steps to discovery
Value — you bring through benefits and features
Audience – understand their desires
Singularity – know where you stand apart
Template – tie it all up in value proposition template
Test – evaluate your value proposition’s strength
By creating your value proposition, your marketing mindset naturally becomes more client centered.
Your new understanding of your audience’s fears, doubts and desires will guide your marketing. And this is how you attract the right clients.
As you go through this process, I encourage you to set intentions for yourself. And ask for inner guidance & wisdom. Especially if you hit a wall or get confused. You don’t have to do this alone.
1. Value – know the amazing thing your clients get…in order to describe your product or service
First let’s clear up confusion about what makes you valuable.
Clients do not measure value in terms of your processes, procedures, modalities, products or events, etc.
Simply, these are the means to the end.
The outcomes or results, however, are what people value.
Your value is helping someone change. To reach their desire for a better life. To become who they want to be.
As large or as small as that desire appears – this is what your client wants and values.
We’re all here to grow. Our urge to grow is life expressing itself at higher levels, as Dr Joseph Murphy says.
A life change is exactly what your audience is looking for.
Benefits are life changes your clients experience
Benefits tend to be subjective – experienced internally.
Some of you with a service-based business have a hard time thinking about marketing. Because it feels like you’re selling yourself. Which is never comfortable.
But focusing on what your clients get – the benefits you deliver — may help you feel less like you’re selling yourself. This is client-centric marketing. A mindset as much as a method to attract and keep clients.
Features are processes, procedures, modalities, product, price, etc.
Features are objective – we see and experience them in the external world.
They are important to marketing your business – because they support the benefits – the results your clients get.
If right now, your marketing ONLY talks about your features – you are losing potential clients.
People want a better life.
They do not buy features.
An example: Take Hot stone massage – I don’t want hot stones on my back.
I want to be less stressed. Stop yelling at my kids for no reason. To feel good in my body. And a hot stone massage helps me relax. And can help me experience what I actually want.
Results are what your audience wants to hear about. Results are why they buy.
Results are the benefits your clients want. The benefits you bring them.
To find benefits – think back, what do clients say to you after using your product? How do they describe it? What keeps them coming back? That’s where you’ll discover benefits.
Here’s a Benefit – feature worksheet. Start with the features in your business. Continue filling in each column. The pen example can guide you.
Your audience research, Step 2 in VASTT, will help you fill in more of this chart.
2. Audience – discover what your audience desires and wants
Your objective is to find the people you serve best. Find that sweet spot where you deliver the value a specific group is looking for.
Audience research – a strategy to help attract new clients
Doing audience research is no longer out of reach for for small business owners. You have many options either at no cost or very little investment.
Questions to ask:
These are the insights you’re looking for:
- What do they think & feel now?
- What do they want instead?
- What’s stopping them?
Where to look for answers
Conversations to have
If you have a retail business or work one-to-one – you’ll can easily talk to clients or prospects.
Sources you have now
Next – look at the info your audience has already told you
Any communication a client sends you may have valuable insights.
- Emails: questions or complaints
- Customer service
- Blog comments
- Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Testimonials & referrals
Hunt these up.
How to get more
- Surveys of existing mailing list & clients
- On-site polls – learn why they come & leave
- Listen on social media – where your clients hang out
> Facebook groups
> Blogs, webinars
> Amazon reviews
The research you do will help you fill in the Benefit – feature worksheet.
3. Singularity – discover words and qualities to describe your business so you stand apart
Being singular is going beyond the law of averages.
Which is where a lot of businesses live. At the bottom of the pyramid.
But when you’re singular you stand apart.
You become the obvious choice to your ideal audience.
Choose attributes for your business that give your clients an experience they cannot get from anyone else. This is the recommendation from Seth Godin, a highly regarded marketer.
Go full out. Deliver these qualities relentlessly.
By using these qualties to describe your business to attract clients – you won’t be competing against others in your space.
Here’s an example with Dunkin Donuts.
Dunkin stands out from other fast food chains offering great donuts and coffee. But you see, they don’t do as well with family dining. They never wanted to own that. McDonalds does.
A business cannot be all things to all people.
You have to pick.
Below is a list of qualities to inspire you. Or you may be working with qualities and ideals in your business already.
Whatever you’re guided to choose, play with them on the chart. There’s no right or wrong. It’s completely up to you what you want to be known for.
4. Template – tie it together for a value proposition that attracts your ideal clients
Now after completing the first 3 steps in VASTT, you’re ready to fill in the value proposition template.
Your value proposition must tell people what you do. And be specific. Let your uniqueness comes through.
Otherwise, otherwise your business is generic and vague. You look like others in your space.
And that confuses people. Your audience has no reason to choose you. Unless you give them one.
And don’t worry about great writing.
This is not a slogan. Or an ad.
Your value proposition is a resource to use as you create other marketing materials. Even to give to a copywriter who writes for you.
Your value proposition is a statement of what your clients can expect from your business.
Examples of businesses using their value propositions in marketing
Here, Tony Robbins makes clear on his home page what you get working with him – transformation.
Here’s an eye doctor selling eyeglasses who found his niche – and tells you.
I love he’s appealing to Jazz fans which is very popular in Denmark. Every summer Copenhagen hosts a huge international Jazz festival.
If you don’t like jazz or the aroma of fresh espresso – he’s not the eye doctor for you.
Here’s a dermatologist in a town near me in New Jersey.
He tells you clearly who should come to him. Relax don’t be embarrassed to ask him about products for a beauty routine.
5. Test – Find out if your value proposition is strong enough to bring more clients to your business
Your final step, how well does your value proposition answer your audience’s question? Use this score card below.
Look at the 4 criteria from your clients’ point of view.
- APPEAL: “Is this what I want? Is this appealing to me?”
- SINGULARITY: “Can I get this elsewhere?”
- CREDIBILTY: “Do I believe they can do this? Is this believable to me?“
- CLARITY: “Do I understand what this is?”
Scoring is subjective. So ask someone else who knows your business to score your value proposition too. Their point of view will help — immensely.
And yes, it’s likely you’ll go through several drafts till landing on the final one. Your goal is to beclearer and more specific with each version.
This is not the place to talk about the basics you provide – the bottom of the pyramid. If everyone in your space has to offer it — then it does not belong in your value proposition.
After going through the VASTT process, sometimes entrepreneurs realize what they offer may not be right for the audience they’re going after.
In that situation, switching to another audience may be called for.
I have one guarantee. And that is — you will have to change you value proposition over time.
Your clients change. And what they want & need changes.
The world keeps changing.
You change. And what you want to do and who you want to work with can change.
And so the value proposition for your business has to change too.
Using the VASTT process, you can discover:
- how to find your value
- where to get insights about your audience
- how to uncover what makes you singular – unique
- how to tie together into a value proposition with a template
- and finally evaluate its strength by testing
Your value proposition can answer potential clients’ unspoken, burning question
With all these steps together, you’ll know how to describe your business to attract clients. By clearly explaining what you do & the amazing value you offer.
A clear value proposition conquers your audience’s confusion, resistance and apathy.
- Replaces those feelings with a clear understanding, open-mindedness & willingness to take action.
- Because a strong value proposition helps you connect honestly with your audience.
- You can create marketing more easily, talking about features & benefits more meaningfully.
- Your value proposition makes it easier for the right people to find you. Your audience knows who you are & where you stand.
- You can serve the people you are meant to serve and create a better world.
And how do you do all this?
Create audience-centered marketing.
If you’re ready to create your value proposition and be supported through the entire process by working one-on-one, book a Spotlight Session Call. A free 1 hour conversation to understand what’s going on with your marketing. And if a value proposition will help you.
I’m Arlene O’Reilly. I founded Really Clear Marketing to train small business owners how to get the most out their marketing by using principles of clear communication — while staying true to their values.
And I’ve been working with clients in marketing & advertising over 25 years. From Madison Avenue ad agencies to now working with entrepreneurs ready to level up their marketing. You can find me on LinkedIn.