How do I create a compelling value proposition for my startup?


What is a value proposition?

A value proposition succinctly articulates the unique value and benefits that a product or service brings to its target customers. In a competitive marketplace flooded with options, a compelling value proposition is what sets a business apart and captures the attention of potential customers.

It is a strategic statement that answers the fundamental question: “Why should customers choose your offering over others?” Crafted effectively, a value proposition communicates the essence of what a business provides and how it addresses specific customer needs in a way that resonates deeply. 

Why is it important that my startup has a clear value proposition?

In today’s fast-paced business world, understanding and defining your value proposition is of paramount importance. It serves as a guiding beacon for product development, marketing efforts, and overall business strategy. A well-defined value proposition not only helps in attracting new customers but also in retaining them by consistently delivering on promised benefits. It provides clarity to both the business and its customers, ensuring that the efforts are aligned with customer desires and pain points.

How do I create a value proposition?

Creating a compelling value proposition requires a deep understanding of your target audience, their needs, and the unique aspects of your product or service that can address those needs effectively. The Value Proposition Canvas is a powerful tool designed to facilitate this process. By dissecting customer profiles and mapping out the value your product or service provides, the canvas helps entrepreneurs and startups refine their offerings, establish a competitive edge, and ultimately thrive in a crowded marketplace.

Let’s delve into the components of the Value Proposition Canvas and guide you through the process of creating a robust value proposition for your startup.

Creating your value proposition

Developed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur as part of the Business Model Canvas framework, the Value Proposition Canvas helps you understand the specific needs of your target customers and how your product or service can address those needs in a unique and compelling way.

The canvas consists of two main components:

Customer profile

This section focuses on understanding your target customers’ pains and gains. Pains are the problems, challenges, and frustrations that your customers face, while gains are the benefits, desires, and aspirations they have. The goal is to deeply comprehend what makes your customers tick and what they’re trying to achieve.

Customer Jobs: What tasks or jobs are your customers trying to accomplish?

Pains: What are the challenges, frustrations, or problems they encounter?

Gains: What benefits, outcomes, or desires do they want to achieve?

Value map

In this section, you outline how your product or service alleviates your customers’ pains and creates gains for them. This is where you detail the features, attributes, and benefits that your offering provides.

Products & Services: What specific offerings do you provide?

Pain Relievers: How does your offering address and alleviate customer pains?

Gain Creators: How does your offering fulfil customer desires and generate gains?

Creating a value proposition for your startup

  • Identify your target customers

Clearly define the segment of customers you’re aiming to serve. Understand their demographics, behaviours, and preferences.

  • Customer profile

Conduct research, interviews, and surveys to gather insights into your customers’ jobs, pains, and gains. This step helps you empathise with their needs.

Need an expert to provide customer insights? We can help.

  • Value map

Based on your understanding of the customer profile, outline the features and benefits of your product or service. How does it solve their problems and fulfil their desires?

  • Match pains and gains

Align your product or service’s pain relievers with your customers’ pains and your product/service’s gain creators with their desires. Ensure that there’s a clear connection between what your offering provides and what your customers seek.

  • Differentiation

Analyse your competitors and identify how your value proposition stands out. What unique features, benefits, or approaches does your startup bring to the table?

  • Message crafting

Use the insights from the Value Proposition Canvas to create compelling marketing messages that resonate with your target customers. Clearly communicate how your product addresses their needs better than alternatives.

This can be a tricky task, especially when you are so close to the business and product. It is essential to put yourself in the shoes of your prospects to develop relevant messages that will have impact.

Need help with messaging? At Merchant, we have extensive experience of developing messaging frameworks that can be used to support content and communications strategies. Get in touch

  • Iterate and test

Once crafted, your Value Proposition Canvas can’t be left and forgotten about, it’s a dynamic tool. Continuously gather feedback from customers, refine your value proposition, and iterate as needed. This helps you fine-tune your offering to better match customer needs.

Remember, the Value Proposition Canvas is a guide, not a strict formula. It’s meant to foster deep understanding and strategic decision-making. Regularly revisiting and adjusting your value proposition based on customer feedback and market changes is key to your startup’s success.


Developing a compelling brand is one of six key factors for scaling successfully. Discover the other five in our free e-book:
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