Thursday, December 13, 2018
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What is Your Value Proposition? Chelsey Tattrie
group learning

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

So, Why do you do what you do?

The value proposition of your business is the “why”. 

  • Why are you doing what you’re doing? 

  • Why are you selling what you’re selling? 

  • Why should people care?
Your value proposition is arguably the most important aspect of your business; without it, you can’t tell people why they should buy your product or service. You might have a neat or original idea, but that doesn’t mean people will (or should) want to buy into it. You might already know your value proposition, but are you using it to strengthen your sales?

At NABI’s November 2nd Lunch & Learn, Lindsay Sutton, Market Development Specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, gave business owners valuable insights into how to find their value proposition, and then how to use effective marketing to communicate it, and translate it into real sales. 

Entrepreneurs begin with an idea; a product or service that people want for a specific reason, and that they can’t get somewhere else. Maybe the product or service is not available at all, the demand is too high, or it doesn’t have the right features, pricing, or quality. This is where your business (and products or services) comes in to fill the gap. 

Products and services should always begin with finding and getting to know your customer segment, Lindsay says. Don’t be afraid to test your products, ask your clients about their pain points, and understand their distinct needs. Your first version of products and services will almost never be your final version, so prepare to look at development as a journey, and each client as a check-in point to evaluate how you’re doing, and whether you need to make changes to match your “why” to the clients’ “why”.

One of the most valuable tools you can use during your development is entirely free, and endlessly valuable: feedback. From your clients, your peers, your competitors, and your colleagues. 

  • What do people want? 

  • What does your product or service give them that they didn’t have before? 

  • What doesn’t it give them that they need? 
This is where your development will happen. 

A few examples of the qualities or results your products or services could provide for your clients are:


  • Cost savings
  • Time savings
  • Functionality 
  • Positive emotions
  • Social gains
  • Less work
  • Lower risk 
Depending on your offerings and your clients’ needs, some of the above will be essential value propositions, necessary to make them buy in. Others will be secondary, like added bonuses. 
So, go out there and find your market. If you can’t find a market, you need to rethink your offering. Lindsay uses the example of Segways, which are an amazing technology, but lacked a market where individuals were going to buy them or use them on any kind of regular basis. The “why” was simply a novelty, instead of an underlying belief or dream people could share in.  

value proposition canvas

Sharing beliefs and dreams is key to connecting your “why” to your clients’ “why”. Your marketing should portray your value proposition in a compelling and emotional way. Find out what your client wants, but then delve deeper into their “why”. For example, if they need a wedding caterer who can provide a very specific cultural meal, you should know whether it’s because of a fondness for cultural tradition, or simply because they enjoy the flavours of their traditional cuisine. This will help you tailor your “how” for the best possible results, and in turn, will help you find clients who share your beliefs, and will fully appreciate your offerings. 

A tool Lindsay Sutton shared with Lunch & Learn attendees that can seriously help you hone your product and service offerings is call The Value Proposition Canvas (shown above). Developed over 15 years ago, this business model strategy all begins with the why. Whether you’re new to business, or well-established, try it out for yourself to test your value propositions!

If you need a little more inspiration to begin laying out your value propositions, check out this awesome Ted Talk. Simon Sinek speaks about the “golden circle”, which moves from your “why” to your “how” to your “what” in your marketing, to best connect with clients. 

If you want to learn more about how to find your value propositions or market your business, drop by NABI Commons for a session with our skilled business coaches and staff, who can help you learn more about marketing strategies, creating or improving your products and services, and improving your business model.


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