Dead center in the Lean Canvas is a box for your UVP. This is one of the most important boxes on the canvas and also the hardest to get right.

Your UVP should communicate why you are different and worth getting attention. It should be short and ideally fit into a twitter headline or less (160 characters).

How to craft a unique value proposition

Be different, but make sure your difference matters

The key to unlocking what’s different about your product is deriving your UVP directly from the number-one problem you are solving. If that problem is indeed worth solving, you’re more than halfway there already. 

Target early adopters

Too many marketers try to target the “middle” in the hopes of reaching mainstream customers, and in the process they water down their message. Your product is not ready for mainstream customers yet. Your sole job should be to find and target early adopters, which requires bold, clear, and specific messaging. 

Focus on finished story benefits

You’ve probably heard about the importance of highlighting benefits over features. But benefits still require your customers to translate them to their worldview. A good UVP gets inside the head of your customers and focuses on the benefits your customers derive after using your product. 

So, for instance, if you are creating a résumé-building service: A feature might be “professionally designed templates.” The benefit would be an “eye-catching résumé that stands out.” But the finished story benefit would be “landing your dream job.” 

A good formula for crafting an effective UVP (by way of Dane Maxwell) is: 

Instant Clarity Headline = End Result Customer Wants + Specific Period of Time + Address the Objections

A classic example that fits this formula is Domino’s slogan:

Hot fresh pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or it’s free. 

Pick your words carefully and own them

Words are key to any great marketing and branding campaign. Look at how the top luxury car brands have used a single word to define themselves:
Performance: BMW
Design: Audi
Prestige: Mercedes 

Picking a few “key” words that you consistently use also drives your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking. Answer: what, who, and why. A good UVP needs to clearly answer the first two questions— what is your product and who is your customer. The “why” is sometimes hard to fit in the same statement, and I’ll frequently use a subheading for that. 

Here are example UVPs I have used in products: 

  • Lean Canvas Spend More Time Building Versus Planning Your Business. The faster, more effective way to communicate your business model 
  • USERcycle Turn your users into passionate customers. Customer Lifecycle Management Software Study other good UVPs. 

The best way to craft a good UVP is to study the UVPs of the brands you admire. Visit their landing pages and deconstruct how and why their messaging works. Some of my best teachers have been Apple, 37signals, and FreshBooks.

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