There was a time when marketing was a volume play. Things like ad impressions, email lists, and reach were the things marketers cared about most.

Marketers thought that the only thing that mattered was sheer volume — that more eyeballs would automatically mean more sales.

In fact, these conflated metrics—like the number of unique visitors to your site, or the number of times your free app was downloaded—are nothing more than vanity metrics.

They sound nice, but they don’t actually measure your success or create better results for your business.

How companies sink their ships with Vanity Metrics

I’ve worked with clients who have said to me, “I just want more lead volume on my website.” It’s all about volume — something you can easily buy your way into.

These clients will pour resources into increasing their outreach, thinking that increasing leads automatically increases revenue.

That’s just not how business works.

Companies that reach out so recklessly almost always generate the wrong kinds of leads. They focus on vanity metrics, and end up trying to sell their product to people who are a terrible fit.

On the flip side, I’ve also worked with lots of small businesses who would rather have 1,000 engaged people—people who are not unsubscribing, who are clicking through, and who are converting—than 10,000 names who opt out and bounce.

These are the companies that understand the difference between an actionable piece of data, and a vanity metric.

How focusing on your Value Proposition keeps you honest

A value proposition is the primary reason people buy from you — it’s the secret sauce that makes your business, product, or service unique.

Businesses that align their marketing to their value proposition are only reaching out to people who have a reason to buy their product. Their vanity metrics won’t be as pumped up as they could be, but they’ll have something that matters way more: conversions.

The perfect example of this is Uber. Early on, Uber could have poured their funding in getting the highest total downloads possible. They could have thrown ads on everyone who owned a car, iPhone, or took German in high school.

Instead, they focused on their value proposition: “Tap the app, get a ride.”

That tagline makes Uber’s value clear, and appeals directly to their perfect customer as a result. Do you need a ride somewhere? Then Uber is the simplest, best option for you.

Your value proposition is the reason why customers will buy from you. Narrow in on that and communicate it effectively, and you’ll build a loyal customer base that will keep coming back.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Determining your value proposition takes work, but it will pay off again and again.

How to discover your Value Proposition

Even companies in business for decades struggle with their value proposition. It’s because they’ve never been taken through a proper process to understand their differentiation in the marketplace.

At Marketing CoPilot, this is a process that we take people through right at the beginning:

  • Who buys from you?
  • And why?
  • That value proposition is then used to identify your buyer persona:
  • Who is the buyer?
  • What are the obstacles they must overcome?
  • What are the proof points they’re looking for?
  • What do they need to know in order to make a decision to buy from you?

Answering these questions will lead to a buyer map—the types of content they need from you, and what they want to understand about you before they engage with you.

Once you have that buyer map, you can create a content marketing plan, which you should couple with constant online testing and data analysis. Eventually you can begin automating the process to mine data and draw conclusions.

How to test your Value Proposition with a Subscription Model

Repeat customers are what build a business. Because of this, subscription models are extremely valuable as they make every customer a repeat customer. But subscription models also are extremely beneficial for defining and testing your value proposition.

This is a great way to create a specific, measurable value proposition because it creates a scenario in which a customer must continually make a decision about you. With a subscription model, you are constantly auditioning for your customer.

When your value proposition is clear and effective, customers will be retained. When your value proposition is muddled or unappealing, customers will churn.

In our business, we sell a tested process and results. We want our clients’ businesses to grow because they have their best sales tool—a strong digital foundation—to perform for their business. We make it easy for business owners to win online.

That’s our value proposition, and we audition it for our subscribed clients every month.

Let your Value Proposition guide your content

When building content for your website, blog, or social media accounts, you should always have your value proposition in mind.

This blog post is a perfect example of creating content that speaks to our value proposition.

We’re all about helping companies have a smarter digital marketing strategy, giving tips and advice on how to do that is tantamount to connecting with our customers. So we make content (like this) that spells out how business owners can win online. That’s our value proposition. What’s yours?

Understand your value proposition and you’ll understand your customers. More importantly though, they’ll understand you — and they’ll keep coming back.