More on Value Propositions

In a previous article, I touched briefly on Value Propositions, and talked about how to develop one. I’d like to go into more detail, thanks to Joe Pici.

In review, a value proposition should focus on outcomes, and be result-oriented:

  • talk about outcomes not products and services
  • tie results to critical business issues
  • tie results to personal issues

When talking to the customer, listen to their needs and pains – for example, they might say something like:

  • “I’m disappointed with my marketing materials”
  • “I’m not getting enough customers”
  • “I’m not getting the types of customers I want”
  • “I feel that my image does not represent the quality of work that I offer”
  • “I have a hard time communicating my value to the customer”

There are three approaches to developing a value proposition:

  1. Pain-centered
  2. Benefits-centered
  3. Question-centered

Each of these has its place, and you may prefer one or the other. There are situations where one is obviously more effective than the other.

Pain centered approach

This focuses on a particular area of discomfort for your customer. It has the structure of:

I/we work with/help (target market) .. who are (verb) with (problem).

(real estate photographer) – I help realtors who are frustrated with trying to sell houses in a down market.

(wedding photographer) – I help brides who are anxious to save their wedding memories.

This directly addresses the pain, or the problem; the actual problem is in the value proposition.

Benefits-centered example

As we said in our previous article on selling, people are interested in benefits, not features. They don’t care that your camera has 21 megapixels and shoots HD video. (Yay, 5DMII!) They want their problem solved. By addressing the benefits of what you offer, not the features of your offering, we come to:

(annual reports photographer) – I work with companies that want their customers and shareholders to fully appreciate the value of the work they do.


I work with models who want to develop a strong visual portfolio, which will lead to agency representation and increased exposure.

The key thing here is that the focus of the value proposition is on the feelings of the customers AFTER the results are delivered. You might not specifically state the feelings (the first example uses the word “appreciate” – the second has no “feelings” words, but the words chosen directly elicit an emotional response.

Question-centered example:

Seniors photography, speaking to the parents – “If I could show you a way to capture your son’s personality in the photos, while saving you money, would that be worth 15 minutes of your time?”

Annual reports – “If I could help you develop an annual report that would allow your shareholders to better understand your strategic vision through the use of pictures and text, would that help you?”

The focus is never features – it’s always solutions, always results.

People don’t go to Home Depot to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. Nobody wants to own a drill bit. They just want the ability to produce a quarter-inch hole.

Reference: Joe Pici, “Sell Naked on the Phone”

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. What a useful topic for any artist that is trying to make a living with their art. Thank you!

  2. Hello Bill,

    Good stuff. It’s a cousin to the elevator introduction. It goes back to IBM’s feature, function, benefit with emphasis on the benefit. Joe Pici is a master!

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