When you’re providing services in a competitive market, differentiating yourself can be hard. If you’re not finding the leads you need, try centering your business around a value proposition and show your customers how you do things differently.
If you’re operating in a large city, chances are there are tons of other service businesses like yours. Unless you’re ultra-specialized or target a very narrow customer demographic (two very effective strategies — check out our guide here), you’ll need to rely on marketing in order to stand out.
Value propositions have been covered by everyone from Forbes to kissmetrics, and there’s a bunch of information out there for marketers who want to sell things online. It’s partially a psychological ploy, but primarily a marketing tool. It’s part-slogan, part-byline, part-pitch, and entirely personal for each company on the market. We’re going to show you how to build your own value proposition for your service business, and demystify a lot of the information that’s available.
What Is a Value Proposition?
A value proposition is what you brag about. It’s a phrase or slogan that communicates the value you provide to your customers, the miniature call-to-action that encourages them to contact you instead of the competition.
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It isn’t a lie. Calling yourself the best HVAC company in America won’t bring in more customers unless you are, verifiably, the best HVAC company in America. The ideal value proposition is one that’s specific to both your businesses and the area you operate in, and it should communicate a value that customers can recognise independently.
It doesn’t have to be entirely objective, though. A value proposition is a form of argument; you want to convince your customers that your business embodies whatever it says, which means you can base it on soft skills (personality, friendliness, etc) or other subjective traits. Often times, a value proposition is something that is made to be true, rather than something that was true before it was marketed.
How to Create Your Value Proposition
Outside of spending fifteen hours with a marker board and a captive audience, developing a value proposition is a challenging process. Trying to create a true-enough-to-be-believable statement that’s short, pithy, and easy to market is hard, and doing it when the services you provide are similar to your competition’s is even harder.
To start out, try to identify the value that you derive from the work you do. You make money, obviously, and you help your customers in some way (hopefully), but what part of the job makes you feel satisfied? Do you like applying your expertise to complex problems? Making life easier for your customers? Fixing things other people won’t? Removing obstacles to a comfortable life?
Whatever your answer is, use that as a starting point. It’s the genuine core to your larger marketing ploy.
Now identify one thing that you do differently, no matter how small, or something that your competition doesn’t do. It can be as simple as your hours of operation, how quickly you supply service quotes, a guarantee that you offer, or a common complaint made against your competition like rude staff or higher than expected bills. Anything that, if you highlight it in your marketing, will present you as unique, dedicated, or experienced is good.
If your business is family owned and has been active across multiple generations of ownership, you could center your value proposition on how you’ve helped the community for so long you understand their needs like no one else. If you offer 24 hour emergency repair services, your value proposition could be based on how you’re there for your customers when others aren’t.
If you’re really feeling stuck and want to play the oppositional game by highlighting something you do that your competition is bad at, make sure that you aren’t directly calling them out in your value proposition. If your competition bills for mileage and you want to appeal to rural customers, focus on the value of ‘we help wherever you are’ instead of ‘we’re not like them.’ Stay focused on the positive to avoid business confrontations in the future.
You can do a lot with demographic data and targeted marketing to adapt your value proposition. Consider using customer profiles to help you figure out what your ideal customers you need and what kinds of value propositions might resonate with them.
Where To Use Your Value Proposition
Your value proposition should influence all of your advertising, but there are a few places where it is especially useful. You want to position your value proposition near to (but not after) your call to action, or at the top of your sales funnel.
Since most service businesses connect with online customers with a contact form, positioning your value proposition (or a variant of it) near your contact form will encourage customers to engage with you once they’ve reached that part of your site. It’s a great way to add an extra layer of enticement without being pushy.
Using your value proposition on social media is a great way to emphasize deals, special offerings, and new services. As long as you aren’t making hard pitches with every post (that’s an easy way to drive customers away), leveraging the specific value you provide to your customers is a great way to develop social proof.
Fitting value propositions into print advertising can be hard, but if you’re able to work with a good ad team it’s entirely possible. A better option, depending on your audience, is radio advertising, where you can use your value proposition to its full extent and leave a positive impression on your listeners.
The biggest thing to remember is that your value proposition isn’t the only arrow in your quiver. It’s an important part of your marketing strategy, but going out of your way to cram it into every ad, every post, and every message will come off as inauthentic.