Emotional Data

Value Proposition Units – The value behind your value

by: Grant Gooding

How often do you talk about “quality” at your organization?  What about “customer service?”  How many times do you talk about the importance of “trust,” “technology” or “value?”

All important things.  I bet many of you have these words in your mission statement, your core values and in your sales and marketing communications.  But there’s a problem with things like quality, customer service, trust, technology and value:


They aren’t real.  “Quality” doesn’t really exist.  Neither does “Value” or “Trust.”  They are all made up.  They are just lazy and vague ideas that we use to attempt to summarize actual things that our customers care about.  We call these vague ideas “Generic Value Propositions.”  

Generic Value Propositions are weak and meaningless to your customers and when you say them, you lose money.  Not only do they not register emotionally, but they can’t be quantified, assigned or measured and therefore, can’t be improved.  

So then why do so many organizations use them? There are two main reasons:

  1. Generic Value Propositions are broad in scope and it is efficient and safe to say them.  Your brain is both lazy and extremely risk adverse and it likes summarized, catch-all types of communication.  Ironically, the brain buys specific and emotive communications – the exact opposite. 
  2. The vast majority of organizations don’t actually know specifically why people are buying from them.  So, a generic idea like quality or customer service is a safe bet.  (note: I’m being kind when I say “the vast majority” hit me up if you want actual stats on this)

Fortunately, there is an easy way we can avoid using weak, generic language with our customers and it is through understanding the building blocks that make up these same generic messages.  We call these building blocks “Value Proposition Units.”  

Value Proposition Units are the actual, definitive things that people buy and in contrast to Generic Value Propositions, they can be quantified, objectively assigned to prospects and customers, measured for success and improved over time.  A Value Proposition Unit can be turned into a KPI to help you move the needle at your organization.

We take clients through an exercise of converting Generic Value Propositions into Value Proposition Units so we can test the individual value of each unit to find out which are most emotionally resonant with customers.  The exercise just forces you to think about the things that make up these generic words.  For example:

Instead of using the word “Quality,” think about what things make up the idea of quality at your organization.  These “Quality Units” might be:

  • Material density
  • Defect rate
  • Estimated product life
  • Maintenance frequency
  • Order accuracy
  • Return on cost
  • Hours of uptime

These Quality Units are the things that are actually important to a customer and are not only more emotionally resonant, but they are actionable, measurable and can be converted into highly emotive messages that persuade a customer to buy.  

You can use Value Proposition Units to replace weak, generic messages with powerful and emotive messages.  For Example:

Generic message:

“We only carry the highest quality products.”

Value Proposition Unit Message:

“Our products have a defect rate of 1 per 10,000, the lowest in the industry.”

Generic message:

“We are a trusted leader in our industry.”

Value Proposition Unit Message:

“We use a transparent pricing model so you can see every dollar we make, you don’t need to trust me, we show you.”

Generic message:

“We pride ourselves on our customer service.”

Value Proposition Unit Message:

“Someone at our company will respond to you within 5 minutes anytime you reach out.”

What are the units of value that exist behind the value that you claim at your organization?  

Those Value Proposition Units will be more emotionally resonant with your customers and prospects, they should be in your mission statement, core values and marketing and communications.  They can be measured, assigned and improved which means they can help you grow your business.

Now, the hard part…which Value Propositions Units matter most to your customers?