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How to create a great value proposition – part one

Do you know what a value proposition is and how it can help your organisation stand out? In this three-part series, we unpick what value propositions are, why they are important, and how to create one.

Creating a great value proposition is not an easy task and often gets muddled with vision, mission, straplines and taglines.  

In this first of a three-part series, Martin Reid, Agenda senior associate and former director at the Education and Training Foundation, outlines what a value proposition is and is not, and why having a clear, concise, compelling and consistent articulation of your offer is important for both for potential and existing audiences.  

Why do you need a value proposition?  

Noise. It’s everywhere. 

And in case you’re thinking I’ve just stated the obvious, let me clarify that I’m not referring just to audible sounds. But the low level, perhaps even silent, noise we’re bombarded with from the first time we pick up our phones, switch on the TV, browse the internet, take the train, go out shopping.  

The noise I mean comes from the plethora of companies and organisations trying to get our attention and to buy their product or service or sign up to their campaign. A conservative estimate is that we each see, hear, experience around 100 advertisements a day. Some reports suggest it could even be thousands. 

But let’s be clear - every day we face a significant number of messages, calls to action, creative brand building. Noise. Noise. Noise. 

So how do we cut through this noise and ensure our audiences know what we do, how we can help them and why they should choose us?  

The answer lies in a value proposition. It does all of these. And more. 

Creating and communicating a value proposition is one of the most important elements of your marketing strategy. 

So, what is a value proposition? 

A value proposition is a statement that summarises the main benefit or problem you are addressing with your product, service or campaign. Ultimately its purpose is to answer the question: "Why should I spend my money or time with you?" via a series of steps: 

  • Attracting attention: A value proposition captures the attention of your current or potential audiences and makes them want to learn more about your product, service or campaign.  

  • Building trust and confidence: A value proposition shows that you understand your audiences’ needs and that you have a solution that works for them. 

  • Increasing conversions: A value proposition persuades your audience to act - such as joining as a member, signing up for an event or donating. 

  • Differentiating your organisation: A value proposition highlights your organisation’s unique value and how you are better than the alternatives or any potential competitors. 

And what it’s not… 

Don’t confuse a value proposition with your organisational purpose, vision and mission. And note that it’s also not a slogan or a tagline. 

Vision: A vision statement should define a desired future state. It should provide inspiration and a pathway looking ahead to three, five or 10 years’ time. It should be as short as possible and memorable.

Here are some examples from Agenda’s membership, union and charity clients: 

MPS Society: Our vision is for all people affected by our diseases to live the lives they want. 

Unions 21: Our vision is where unions build for tomorrow using best practice and innovation 

Alzheimer’s Research UK: Our vision is for a world free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia. 

Mission: A mission statement explains your organisation’s purpose for being. The mission statement may include information about what your organisation does and how it undertakes and engages in these activities. It defines the organisation’s purpose internally. 


MPS Society: Our mission is to transform lives through specialist knowledge, support and advocacy and research. 

Unions 21: Our mission is to give unions insight, connections and help to navigate the changes affecting them now and in the future. 

Alzheimer’s Research UK: Our mission is to accelerate progress towards a cure. 

Slogan: A slogan is figurative and is typically a short and catchy phrase used to encapsulate the sentiment of a brand or product; for example

Alzheimer’s Research UK: For A Cure. 

Tagline: Taglines focus on the overall purpose or approach; for example

Unions 21: Building Tomorrow’s Unions

MPS Society: Transforming lives through support, advice and awareness 

Why is a value proposition important? 

A value proposition doesn’t exist in isolation from the vision and mission, indeed it is 'how’ you deliver your vision and mission through your offer to your audiences.   

A value proposition typically talks to four elements: 

  • Target audience: Who are you serving? Who is your ideal audience? 

  • Problem: What is the main pain point or challenge your target audience faces? 

  • Solution: How does your product or service solve the problem or provide value to your target audience? 

  • Unique value: How are you different from the alternatives or competitors? What makes you stand out? 

A value proposition is one of the first things your audiences see when they visit your website or social media profile. It deals with the “WIFM – what’s in it for me?” question. It can make or break a first impression and influence a decision to engage with you or not. 

In part two of this series, we will take a look at how you can build a value proposition canvas. And in part three, we get to write a great value proposition using templates. 

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