Why you need a value proposition statement & how to create one
One of the most common questions seen across photography groups is “how do I get clients”?
Most are looking for a quick and magical solution but the truth is, if there were a quick and magical solution, everyone would be doing it.
When I get asked this question, I always say the simplest answer is marketing… which as you know, is not so simple at all. It is often time intensive, takes hard work, planning, research, persistence and flexibility. And before you can even dive into marketing, there are things you need to identify about your business so you can ensure your efforts are consistently delivering the message to book clients, and so your time and resources don’t go to waste. Identifying things such as your brand, your target market, service offerings, products, and pricing all work together in creating the right message which will attract your ideal clients.
Once some of those things are in place, a good starting point for effective marketing is identifying a value proposition statement. It can be used in a variety of communication and prospective client touch points, such as your website, marketing collateral, phone inquiries, etc. You can use value propositions statements on what you offer as a whole, individual products or services, and/or personal value.
A value proposition is a clear promise of tangible results a client will get from using your services. It is the main reason a client would choose to book you over other photographers because it speaks to their functional and emotional needs, solves their problems, and delivers specific benefits.
Why do I need a value proposition?
Value propositions paint a clear picture of what your brand has to offer and tells your perspective clients why they should book you over your competitors. If your value proposition is ineffective, perspective clients are likely to lose interest and will quickly move on before finding out more of the important details. Having an awesome value proposition will grab their attention instantly and will influence them to want to learn more, enabling you to have the chance to turn prospects into bookings.
Okay, I get it… I need a value proposition. Now how do I create one?
Creating a value proposition is a part of business strategy and can be broken down into 2 steps:
- Identifying your value proposition
- Communicating your value proposition
Step 1 is identifying your value proposition.
You can do this by asking yourself the following questions:
- Who is your target audience?
- What are your target audience’s main problems / pain points? How will your services improve your target audience’s life?
- What is your specific genre/expertise/specialty? Define what you do and how you do it differently than the rest of the photographers in your niche.
- What are all of the benefits your service offers to your clients? Start by making a list and then really narrow it down to the best of the best. Keep in mind you want this to be unique so you can stand out from your competition.
- What is the end benefit for the client? Describe what makes these benefits so valuable.
- How can the services you offer help solve/remedy your target audience’s problems? How can you connect the value of what you offer as a means to help solve your client’s problem? Put yourself in your client’s shoes and consider what they truly want.
- How can you differentiate and position yourself as the preferred photographer of this value? Do this by making it clear who your target audience is, what you offer them, how you help them and how you are different. (You may need to take a look at the competition to see what their value proposition is and what makes them unique to ensure you are offering a different value proposition).
Step 2 is communicating your value proposition.
So, what makes a good value proposition?
A good value proposition:
- Delivers a clear message and is easy to understand – You can ensure clarity by reflecting on your answers to the questions above (what are you offering? Who is it for? How will it help them? Why should they book you instead of the competition? When will the value be delivered?) and by using simple language
- Uses language the client will understand – Your value proposition needs to use the language of your target audience. It should join the conversation that is already going on in their mind and hook them in. In order to do that, you need to know the language your customers use to describe your business, your photography, what you are offering and how they benefit from it. You can find this out by interviewing previous clients or by sending out a short survey to find out what common words or phrases they use.
- Communicates specific results the client will get – Explain how what you offer is better and different based on the genuine value you deliver rather than from exaggerations or hype.
- Can be read and understood in 5 seconds – Refine what you do better than any other photographer into a sentence or two. Do this by coming up with a multiple, short variations of your value proposition and then narrow down from there to find which one works the best.
- Display your value proposition proudly! On your homepage, marketing materials, while talking with prospective clients, etc. Own what makes you so valuable and spur clients’ interest by grabbing their attention from the get-go.
How does a value proposition statement look?
There are various ways to format a written value proposition. As long as you are following the advice of step 2, the format should fall easily into place. There are however, some elements which can make for a more effective value proposition.
Those elements are:
- Headline – Start by identifying the end benefit you are offering to your clients, in 1 short sentence as the headline. This should be an attention grabber!
- Sub-headline or paragraph – Give a detailed explanation of what you offer/what you do, for whom and why it is valuable
- List of benefits (optional) – You can do this with bullet points and list the key benefits of what you offer/do or this can be a sentences with the key benefits/problem you solve. The idea here is clarity and impact
- Visual element (photograph, video, etc). – Of course add in some visual communication. Use an image which reinforces your main message or showing the final result.
I hope these tips inspire you to start writing your own value propositions. Doing so will get you headed in the right directions for booking the clients you want!
About the author:
Ash is an American Documentary Photographer living in Jena, Germany for the past 8 years with her 2 small sons and her German husband. She is the founder of Documentary Family Photographers Worldwide (“DFP”), a community and directory connecting and supporting photographers all over the world to push their work further and to successfully run a DFP businesses. You can find some more value proposition templates here, on Tor Grønsund’s blog.