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  1. Justin @ Workado

    Great blog post Tommy. I know you are in online marketing, so you know how difficult it can be as much as anyone. I’ve actually heard, “Oh – you’re one of those” when telling people I did SEO, and so I knew a change was needed LOL.

    1. Peep Laja Peep Laja

      Haha. When I’m at a cocktail party and people ask me “so what do you do?” – I used to reply “conversion optimization”, and they just rolled their eyes. Now I say “I sell money”, and they’re instantly intrigued.

  2. Tommy Walker

    Lol! yep.

    When I was just doing SEO I started saying things like “I make businesses #1 on Google.” (terrible value prop) or “I put businesses in front of the people actively searching for what they sell.” (a little better)

    It would be interesting to see how that value proposition would have evolved as the product offering became more specific.

    Something like “Know where Google thinks you should rank in 24 Hours – Guaranteed” then offer a brief SEO audit – or something like that.

  3. Yisroel Reiss

    Great post, Tommy! Very thorough and I learned a lot. Thanks.

  4. Tema Frank

    Great article! So much more thorough than what you see on most blogs, and yet still written in a totally accessible way.

    Despite being a marketer for over 30 years, I still find that it is sometimes difficult to come up with a good USP for myself (but generally much easier for my clients!)


  5. Tim Anderson

    If you think you can, your right. If you think you can’t, your right. It’s a matter of the mindset. This was good article. I really liked the disclaimer and “companion” article. This was a first time thing to me.

  6. Diane Kamer

    I thought David Ogilvy covered this way back in the day, in *Confessions of an Advertising Man.* He related how Ogilvy and Mather had the Ivory Soap account. Soap is soap, right? So, he came up with: Ivory Soap. So pure it floats. And it worked. But, when you really think about it, who cares that it floats? I mean, WTH? But that set it apart, and consumers were convinced that floating soap was somehow a Good Thing. LOL.

    Of course, customers are a lot more cynical these days. If you told ’em it floats, they probably *would* say, “So what?”

    1. Tommy Walker

      You’ve got a good point, but you’re focusing on the wrong side of that sentence for value proposition.

      The value proposition here isn’t – Soap that “floats” – it’s “Soap so pure”

      Think about who Ivory is marketed to. Looking at their Facebook page now, I see a smiling mom with her two kids and (I’m guessing) her husband.

      In fact, their tagline now is “keep it pure, clean & simple” so the purity value proposition is still holding on after what? 40 years of Ogilvy’s original value proposition.

      The floating part of the value proposition you mentioned is more novelty than anything else, that extra “hook” that gets it to stand out in the customers mind (Ogilvy was an ad man after all) but the real selling point is “Purity” which is very important to their target demographic.

      Thanks for bringing that up!

  7. stefanie

    Great Post Tommy with compelling rationale. I like all of the examples you gave and therefore shared on my Linkedin wall. I am a fan of great quality posts like yours, so please keep up sharing!

    1. Tommy Walker

      Thanks so much for sharing Stefanie :-) Might I be able to connect with you on linkedin?

  8. Stan Eigi

    This is a very helpful article. Selling something that isn’t unique is a difficult task, maybe even a burden… But if you come up with a good value proposition I think it gets easier. Thank you for great tips.

    1. Tommy Walker

      No problem :-) Though, I would think if what you’re selling is a burden, shouldn’t you try selling something else?

  9. Wendi Makuch

    Hey Peep, thanks for the post jam-packed with fantastic ideas! Also appreciate the 4-Tell shout-out. Although, our engineers flinched just a little when they heard “give us 10 seconds and we’ll recommend the best…”

    In reality, we’d be out of business if we took that long – what shopper waits more than 3 seconds for a page to load before they give up and hit a competitor’s site? (In retail, the competition literally is only a click away!) It’s more like .1 second for our recommendations. …and usually the entire page loads slower than we do. :)

    1. Tommy Walker

      Sorry about that! (Don’t think I’m weird for answering, I wrote the article ;-)

      Well, please, feel free to test that value prop :-) I’d love to see if it works for you.

      Have you considered partnering with a dedicated hosting company like Wp-Engine? Might be interesting to work faster hosting into your product offering.

  10. Bryant Jaquez

    Pro Tip: You read the book, positioning the battle for your mind. Every brand can establish a unique position for themselves, you just need to find the opening in the marketplace and play to that niche.

  11. Hunter Boyle

    Hey Tommy,

    Excellent piece on this topic. The impact of creating (and testing) a strong value prop can’t be overstated — it’s one of the most critical optimization opportunities, yet most organizations are still way off the mark.

    This post and the companion post from Peep are an awesome starting point (and thanks for those props/links to my MEx post on this topic — cool to stumble on to those).

    One thing I’d add is this isn’t a one-and-done process. It needs to be part of an annual review or sales/marketing audit, because these can get outdated fast, especially in very competitive markets. Nailing this is so important it should be the core of any company’s annual retreat or leadership offsite.

    Looking forward to more kick-ass posts!

    Cheers — Hunter

  12. Victoria

    Thank you for such a deep analysis – it added a couple of thinks to check and analyse to my marketing plan. The most interesting thing is that though all marketing methods are known, they are targeted to ecommerce here and it helps those who are just starting new online business or evaluating the idea

  13. Patri Hernandez

    Another Oscar winning post.

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How To Come Up With A Value Proposition When What You Sell ISN’T Unique