The fatal flaw of most entrepreneurs is our overwhelming enthusiasm. Sometimes, we love our ideas so much, we forget that the rest of the world may not see our vision unless we show them properly.
The idea behind Amadei was to create something useful that musicians would love, except I forgot to actually ask the musicians if what I was developing would appeal to them.
I plowed ahead with my plan and obsessed over it until I had a perfectly polished final product to launch. I realized that my grand plan was a total flop within a few months. Musicians didn’t understand it, so naturally, they didn’t want to pay for it. This was disastrous for me at the time because I had sunk considerable capital into the project. CAC was at least $680, and I was getting almost no return for it.
On top of this, any time I spoke with future partners or investors, it took me at least 20 minutes to fully explain my idea. Everyone could see my enthusiasm, but let’s be honest. Nobody’s attention lasts that long. Investors typically tune out after about three minutes.
My problem? No clear value proposition. It’s not that my product was bad; it’s just that I hadn’t developed a short, simple value proposition to get everyone else excited about my idea.
Learn From My Mistakes: Keep It Short and Sweet
My biggest mistake was being so in love with my product idea that I didn’t stop to think about how everyone else would view it. Not crafting a solid value proposition was bad for business all around. I’ve since learned that a short, memorable value proposition is essential even before your first MVP launch because it helps with:
Advantages of a Short, Memorable Value Proposition
- Better customer segmentation
- Better presentation (which translates to better conversion rates)
- More effective communication with each market segment
- More powerful elevator pitch for investors
- Better chances of standing out from the competition
Use Your Value Proposition to Build Your Business Recipe
Every business has a handful of “main ingredients” that make it work. Your value proposition is essentially the outline of your “business recipe.”
It gives you and your team a target by clearly summarizing your brand’s main ingredients, which are:
- The product. What are you selling?
- The customer. Who are you selling it to?
- The problem. What problem are you solving? Why should your customer care?
When you have a concise, powerful answer to these three questions, you will have created a value proposition.
Spice Up Your Value Proposition Recipe With the Competitive Edge
Now, your job is to take those three main ingredients and season them with what I call the competitive edge. This is where you punch up your business recipe with attention-grabbing soundbytes highlighting the advantages of your product and why your solution is the one customers need. And remember: This isn’t the time for jargon. Keep it simple enough for anyone to understand and get excited about.
For example, if I’m talking to artists, I don’t want to call Amadei a “music artist service.” That means nothing to them. So is Spotify. So is the radio. So is Garageband. How is it different, specifically?
I need to make it appealing, so I would tell them it’s a full-service platform to launch their careers and get their music into distribution faster.
You’re selling to humans, so you need to appeal to the three basic categories of human needs:
- Social: How will your product make them feel about themselves? Will it motivate them? Improve their feelings of belonging to the group?
- Emotional: Is it rewarding? Fun? Will it create memories? Does it have an appealing design? These things matter just as much as functionality.
- Functional: What can it do for them? Does it save time, money, or stress? Does it increase the likelihood of success or profit?
Remember that function and form are equally important. What your product does (function) is just as important as how it makes customers feel (form).
The 7-Word Strategy
Creating a truly impactful value proposition is a challenge. I know firsthand how hard it is to condense everything you love about your idea into as few lines as possible.
To help with this, I recommend practicing the “seven-word strategy.”
Try describing what your company is doing in less than seven words, including all of the following information:
What you do
What customers get from you (How do you fulfill the needs outlined above?)
What your competitive edge is
This will probably take a few tries, but this exercise will help you distill the essence of your brand.
In addition, if you have multiple products or multiple target demographics, you should make one of these seven-word statements that caters to each. For Amadei, what I say to investors would be different than what I say to an artist or music marketing firm.
In short, your value proposition is the most critical part of your business. Without a short, powerful, and memorable mission statement, you’ll create many more obstacles than necessary between your brand and success.