Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

Defining Your Value Proposition


November 29, 2013


Defining your value proposition can help staff be on the same page and help your business be even more customer-focused. After all, you have to have customers to be a business. A business without customers is a hobby.

What’s a value proposition?

A value equation specifies the value your business brings to the customer. Value focuses on the customer. The person who consumes your product. It doesn’t focus on why the business owner has a business (passion for it, for example), though that reason certainly could be part of the business’ story, but not necessarily its customer-focused value proposition.

Some examples that explain how to verbalize an organization’s value proposition.


Eastern Iowa News

In 2009, I launched Eastern Iowa News, a new community-based news start-up. Initially, I wanted to learn about publishing through WordPress and get caught up on running a website. (I’ve had some experience with an older non-WordPress version of The Gazette in Cedar Rapids and in the 1990s had a Geocities site, a service later bought by Yahoo, and then shut down in the United States. I also continued to run across community-newsworthy items on my commute and while out in the community. I wanted to share those and learn about WordPress publishing.

That’s a good personal reason for launching the project, but probably doesn’t sound all that interesting to potential consumers.

Traffic started to ramp up, people started buying ad space and community members started submitting news items that they found interesting. In just nine months more than 100,000 people visited and 2,700 articles were filed by more than 80 contributors. (Eastern Iowa News became inactive when I took a job at The Gazette Company to help train journalists engage with the public differently.)


Picture of Coffee Cup with Value Proposition SloganThe line from Caribou Coffee on my coffee cup the other day was a good example of a good value proposition.

“Life is short. Stay awake for it.”

Obviously, I had already gotten my coffee when I saw this, but it’s still a good proposition and explanation of why I should drink their coffee. Plus it’s written in a clever way.

It also gets to the bottom of why many drink coffee: To stay awake … or at least wake up or feel more awake.

Plus, don’t we all want to enjoy life – that’s where the “Life is short” works nicely.

A Jeep

Value proposition - Jeep Tire Cover Reads No Problem and Problem Upside Down

Steps to your value proposition

Identify customers

In the case of Eastern Iowa News who was the customer? I would identify the customer as the visitors who stopped by to consume content, the advertisers and also the contributors. In general, none of the contributors received pay for submissions, so it’s probably fair to call them customers, too.

Identify why they are customers
Then identify why your customers are customers.

Visitors stopped by for interesting content that they hadn’t seen elsewhere.

Contributors submitted content because they had something worthwhile to share and they had nowhere else to share it where a larger and relevant audience would see it.

Advertisers bought ads – sometimes contextual – because a relevant audience started to build.

Summary of reasons (aka value proposition)
Then try to summarize the reasons into a sentence or two.

Eastern Iowa News offers a moderated place where community members as well as people trained as journalists share relevant community-level news available nowhere else that is of interest to people in Eastern Iowa.

Eastern Iowa News is online for the region what printed weekly newspapers have done for decades: Report neighborhood news.

You can find a number of templates on writing a value proposition here. There are many good ideas and one may work better for your business than another.

I also like this template from The Methodologist site:

“We help X do Y doing Z”

In the case of Eastern Iowa News this could be OPTION 3:

We help community members and people with knowledge of information connect in one place. It’s kind of like Facebook except that we check content before it’s published and add additional contextual and relevant information.


Even businesses that haven’t spelled out their value proposition probably have an implied value proposition. Spelling it out, however, can help staff and consumers understand what a business does and what makes it special.

Depending on how short your value proposition is, it could end up being used in promotional materials and even turn into a tagline.

More reading:

Several templates to write a value proposition

Definition from Wikipedia

How to write a value proposition

This was written for the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance to share with small businesses who do not have a marketing team but would like to know more marketing their business.

Don't miss the next blog post:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Christoph blogs on The Authentic Storytelling Project and is a globally recognized content marketing expert. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He works with healthcare organizations and other brands around the globe.

Related Posts

The No. 1 career killer for content marketers (and inbound marketers) is …

This phenomenon is probably not news to anyone in marketing: People stay with organizations for decades and they remember the print-only days at the organization. Or people stick around for months! “Hey, new kid! How come that 20-month project isn’t showing results in month 2? Buh bye!!!” I’m currently working in my second longest stint […]

Read More

Why people need to stop hating on reply all emails

I was dictating the above headline to my phone  in the car with my wife driving who without hesitation groaned and said “oh I hate reply all emails.” And I do agree with her to an extent. I’ve been part of many crappy and annoying reply all emails. People instead of having a conversation or […]

Read More

June 26 – Free upcoming webinar

Click on the image for more and to register:

Let’s talk!

Updates in your inbox! No spam!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Hire your next content marketing strategist here

Is it okay to swear in blog posts?

My Authentic Storytelling Book

book cover crop

"Get Real: Telling Authentic Stories for Long-term Success" discusses why you, your organization and anyone really should consider sharing authentic stories with each other ... READ MORE

My customer service book

Confirmed talks


Berlin, Germany
June 29, 2017

Raleigh, NC
Aug. 22, 2017


Annual conference
Reno, NV
Oct. 8-9. 2017

Austin, Texas
Oct. 23-25, 2017

book now

Speaking feedback

Top twitter accounts to follow for marketing

Top 10 Content Marketer

on Klout 2016


Official PayPal Seal


social media book

Stories from the Social Side Book

%d bloggers like this: