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043 How prepare a value proposition statement

Hey there and welcome back to the Art of Business English. Today I have got a special episode for you. We are going to look at how we can prepare a value proposition. If you don’t know what a value proposition is then don’t worry, today I will be explaining it to you in detail.

So, do you want to become more persuasive with your potential clients? Are you tired of your boring elevator pitch? Today I am going to show you how you can convert your elevator pitch into a value proposition and help you make your pitch much more persuasive and engaging.

At the end of the today’s lesson you will understand the following:

  • The difference between an elevator pitch and a value proposition
  • How to write a value proposition
  • How to get people to ask you questions that position you as an expert

So, let’s get started with what is the difference between an elevator pitch and a value proposition. 

Elevator pitch vs value proposition


Firstly, let’s look at what an elevator pitch is. El famoso "elevator pitch". El discurso del ascensor es una descripción rápida de tu empresa y de por qué se diferencia de las demás. Se llama así porque el discurso debe ser lo suficientemente breve para que pueda reproducirse en lo que dura un trayecto en ascensor."

OK, so what is a value proposition? In Spanish it is called, propuesta de valor. In some ways a value proposition is very similar to an elevator pitch, but it also has a hook. Something that attracts the listener and gets them asking questions.

So, a value proposition refers to a business or marketing statement that a company or individual uses to summarize why a consumer or potential client should buy a product or use a service. This statement convinces a potential consumer that one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than other similar offerings will.

Typically, an elevator pitch is a very scripted and is really only about pitching an idea or project to a potential investor. It doesn’t really invite questions or lead to further conversation. This is because an elevator pitch only talks about the project and is very one sided.

A complete value proposition on the other hand identifies the following key elements:

  1. Main customers
  2. Customer’s problem
  3. Unique benefit
  4. Competitive advantage

So, clearly here we are actually thinking about who our customer is, so this is much more targeted. We have an understanding of there problem, what unique benefit or solution we can provide and our competitive advantage over our competitors.

Now that we have the difference clear, let’s look at how we can prepare a value proposition.


How to prepare a value proposition


Firstly, we need to understand that the purpose of a value proposition is to persuade someone. Therefore, the most important aspect to a value proposition is clarity. Your VP must be clear, crystal clear, to ensure that you have the most impact.

Secondly, you need to spark the listeners interest and make them curious. This is human nature, the better we spark someone’s interest the more engaged and interactive they will be. Our goal with our VP is to establish interaction, get people asking questions about your product or service.

So, as I mentioned earlier, the best value proposition statements are clear about explaining what you do but also have a hook.

Here is how we can go about creating a value proposition statement. Firstly, you need to sit down and brainstorm answers to the following questions:

  1. What can your product or service do for me?
  2. What problem will your product and service solve for me?
  3. Why should I buy this product or service, or hire you over all others we’re considering?

So, here you can see that we are putting ourselves directly into the position of out client. As we mentioned in the previous part of this episode. We identify who our target audience is, and what our service or product can do for them. We are aware of the problems that our customers face. We show them the unique benefit that they get from adopting our solutions and we show why we are better than our competitors.

Wow, sounds like a lot to put into one statement, right?

Well, let’s make it a bit easier by breaking our value proposition into the following. you can look at  identify the following areas:

  1. Audience: again, we need to lead with who our audience.
  2. Category: what is your service/product category.
  3. Benefit: what is your benefit?
  4. Reason: why should people believe you?

Head over to the AOBE website and download the cheat sheet for this episode, take the time to brainstorm answers to these questions. This will help you to develop the foundation to a strong value proposition.

Let’s take a look at how we can develop a value proposition. Firstly, we need to identify our main customer or target audience.

For example, in my case I am an English language trainer and coach. If I was using a typical elevator pitch I might lead by saying;

“I help Spanish business people and business owners to…”

That is pretty standard and not very exciting. With a VP I would lead by identifying main customer. For example;

“Spanish speaking business executives and owners hire me…”

Next step would be to identify the category. So, with a typical elevator pitch you might say;

““I help Spanish business people and business owners to improve their English language skills.”

Again, not very exciting, there is no hook.

As a value proposition I would say;

“Spanish business executives and owners hire me to make them English native…”

What this type of VP does is invite questions. Questions like, “How can you do that?” Which is gold. We have suddenly sparked their interest.

Next, we would show the benefit

“Spanish business executives and owners hire me to make them English native, so they can sell internationally…”

As you can see here, many of my clients are medium sized businesses who are faced with the challenge of expanding their markets. They need to go international and for that the business owner needs to be able to sell internationally. So, I am showing the benefit to learning English.

Finally, we need to give a reason.

“Spanish business executives and owners hire me to make them English native, so they can sell internationally and operate anywhere with confidence.”

As you can see, the value proposition is 10 times more powerful and engaging than a standard elevator pitch. It has clarity, its sparks curiosity and it leads to genuine interaction.

Let’s take a look at how we can get people asking questions.


How to get asked questions


The first thing to note is that we must understand the workings of open and closed questions. For example, a closed question can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Closed questions are formed using auxiliary verbs such as “do” or “does”. An example of this would be.

“Do you work in tech?”.

Open questions on the other hand are commonly referred to as WH questions. WH questions use the interrogative pronouns, who, when, where, why, what, who and how. An open question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no answer.

Our objective with our value proposition is to get people asking us WH questions. WH questions always lead to more discussion. This skill can also be used in social situations when you are trying to meet and get to know new people.

So, when we develop our VP we need to frame everything so that it has a hook or something that sparks curiosity and leads to a WH question.

For example, if I used a standard elevator pitch I could say;

“I am the director of my own language school and teach English. We specialise in business English.”

Here you know what I do, but there is not really any hook, nothing that leads you to ask me a question. I haven’t really sparked your interest. There a million language schools, so why am I different?

If we framed this as a value proposition statement, we could say;

“I’m an English language trainer and coach, I help companies take their team international.”

What is the first question you think someone is going to ask me upon hearing this VP statement?

Let me help you solve the riddle.

“How do you take teams international?”


“How do you do that?”

What this does is allow you to set yourself up as an expert in your field. You can tell your listener why and/or how you and your company are able to take a team to an international level within the context of English language learning and coaching.

You should also try and create a VP that generates why questions. This will help you get buy-in from your potential client. That are curious, they are interested, you have the hook. They want to know why you do something.

Let’s look at another example;

“I’m a business English coach, I get Spanish speakers to live business English.”

Again, here the follow up question could by;

“Why do you get them to live business English?”

From here you are able to go into detail and explain why your product or service is so special and outline the benefits. This instantly sets you apart from your competitors and builds a connection and the foundations of a relationship with your potential client. I would also like to add, that this is genuine, it is not some sleazy sales tactic. You are just trying to differentiate yourself from your competitors and prove to your potential client that you are the company that can provide the perfect solution.


Final thoughts


Well my friends, there you have it, how to right a value proposition. If you found this episode a little intense then head over to the AOBE website, download the cheat sheet to help you brainstorm your ideas and you will have your VP developed in no time. If you are still having trouble, then send me your VP statements and I will be more than happy to review them. Put them in the comments, post them to our Facebook group or email them over.

As always, I hope you enjoyed this episode, remember if you haven’t already subscribed to our podcast then you can do it for free on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify. Also, we have the AOBE Masters membership up and running, all episodes have the transcript, quizzes and we have our weekly Q&A for all members. That’s right, free weekly coaching with your membership. Come and take a look, you get 1 month free when you sign up.

Well, till next week, take care and have fun preparing your value proposition statements.

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Andrew is the CEO and founder of the Art of Business English. Besides teaching and coaching native Spanish speakers in Business English, he is also passionate about mountain biking, sailing and healthy living. When He is not working, Andrew loves to spend time with his family and friends.

Andrew Ambrosius

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