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Why a strong value proposition is invaluable

For nonprofits as well as small- and medium-sized businesses, marketing is an essential—albeit sometimes intimidating—endeavor. Although you spend plenty of time thinking and talking about your business, figuring out the most effective way to communicate about your brand to customers can still be a challenge. Fortunately, a value proposition is designed to do just that.

A well-honed value proposition makes it easier to show prospective customers why they should choose your organization over another. Plus, a clear value proposition makes it easier for you to decide how to market and promote your brand since you’ll already know what your competitive advantage is.

Voya's Just Right Advantage™ Program's webinar, "The power of an authentic brand to grow and create customer loyalty," (60 minutes) dove into the essential elements of any marketing strategy for small businesses and nonprofits. One of the most essential elements is a solid value proposition, according to Samantha Russell, CMO of Twenty Over Ten and Sam Rhue, Head of Enterprise Brand Strategy at Voya Financial.

Here’s what you need to know about crafting a value proposition for your brand.

The value of a strong value proposition

No matter your business, your customers are always looking out for their best interests. This means the most effective marketing is one that speaks to their needs. It’s common for brands to approach marketing as an opportunity to extoll the value of their own business, rather than how their company can provide a solution to its clients.

A powerful value proposition summarizes why a potential customer or client should choose your business over another. It should feel authentic, original and jargon-free. Rhue says to “always start with the benefit to the client. Then, move on to what specific attributes your firm has that allow you to offer these unique things.”

Well-defined value propositions do more than inform your customers, however. You can also use your value proposition as the basis of your internal communications. Training your sales and marketing teams on your value proposition can help make their jobs easier while maximizing your advertising and marketing budget by keeping your messaging aligned.

How to craft or refine your value proposition

The first step to crafting or refining a value proposition is to view your business or nonprofit through the lens of a customer. With a special focus on the needs and pain points of those you serve, this perspective serves as the foundation of your value proposition.

To kick things off, Rhue suggests thinking about your business as an outsider would; chiefly, this means answering the essential human question: “what’s in it for me?” When you’re able to answer this basic question, you can determine what your strongest selling points are. Your value proposition is all about explaining how your business provides an exclusive benefit that others can’t. In developing your value proposition, ask yourself what customers most often say about what makes them want to work with your business.

Don’t be afraid to iterate on your value proposition, however. Making tweaks based on customer feedback is a must, and you stand to benefit from as much trial-and-error as possible. Keep what’s working and cut what doesn’t. Much like your business or nonprofit, your value proposition should evolve.

Executing on your value proposition

Once you’ve determined a value proposition, it’s time to turn words into action. Your value proposition should serve as the cornerstone of your marketing, advertising, sales and communications efforts. As such, it's vital for it to be understandable, clear, concise and — above all — demonstrate how your business or nonprofit can solve the client's problem and add value to their life.

Communicating a good value proposition has to begin with good writing, branding and optics. “You want to write copy that only you can write as unique to your brand,” says Russell. Executing on your value proposition means speaking authentically about what your brand offers. The more distinct and genuine your message is, the more likely you are to connect with the right customers.

"It's really about trying out different messages when you're first creating your brand—throw around different tag lines and try them out on your potential audience," says Russell. "The hard part about making decisions as a business owner is we tend to just default to what we think sounds good but we are not the intended audience."

Make your value proposition work for you


A solid value proposition underpins the entire way you need to think about your business. It’s essential to look at your business from an outsider’s perspective.

That means taking nothing for granted about what your customer might know about your business and what it offers. Concise and effective communication helps ensure that you’re able to answer these and other questions.

“The best way to do this is to ask people who don’t know you what you do for a living,” says Russell. “Show them your website and close it after just five seconds. Then, say ‘Can you let me know what the mission is? What the brand is all about?’”

The answers you receive should be foundational to the ideas you craft and how you refine your value proposition over time. The right value proposition can help you get down to basics and, with the right approach, create new (and repeat) customers.

Voya Just Right Advantage™ offers resources and solutions for diverse small businesses and nonprofits

To provide ongoing support for minority, women, LGBTQ+ and veteran- owned businesses and nonprofits, Voya Financial launched the Just Right Advantage™ program.This first-of-its-kind initiative was developed to assist organizations and employers within undercapitalized, underserved and "under-saved" communities. The Just Right Advantage program offers education, guidance and a fee credit when these small business owners and nonprofit organizations establish or retain their retirement plan with Voya.

Visit the Small Business & Nonprofit Resource Center to learn more about the Just Right Advantage program.

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