Today I’m talking to Momoko Price, a commercial copywriter who works for giants (AT&T and Base CRM) and startups (Respondly, which was acquired by Buffer).
Copywriting is important and one of the biggest parts of marketing.
Naming your value proposition is one thing in copywriting that is critical. It sends a strong message that convinces people about the value you can provide them.
It's the antidote to marketing bullshit.
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Louis: Bonjour! Bonjour! Welcome to another episode of everyonehatesmarketers.com, the marketing podcast for marketers, founder, and tech people that are sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I’m your host, Louis Grenier. A lot of listeners mentioned to me recently that they didn’t know we had a website, and they didn’t know they could find resources, and a lot of other things around each episode.
You can go to everyonehatesmarketers.com and you will see a lot of details about each conversation I have with my guest such as the key resources, the full conversation, and other details that you might have missed. Head on to everyonehatesmarketers.com for that.
If you regularly listen to this podcast, you know how my guests think copywriting is an important part of marketing. In fact, I believe it’s probably one of the biggest part of marketing. A lot of people have emailed me about it. In particular, there is one thing in copywriting that is really critical is naming your value proposition which is a strong message that will really convince people about the value that you can provide them.
My guest today is Momoko Price, she’s a commercial copywriter who mostly works for startups like Respondly that was acquired by Buffer recently, as you might have heard, as well as giants like AT&T or Base CRM. She also has a very interesting course in Conversion Excel in the Conversion Excel Institute about product messaging and you should definitely check that out. Momoko, I’ve talked for two minutes now, welcome aboard.
Momoko: Hi. How’s it going?
Louis: Pretty good. Thank you so much for your time. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty. Let’s dive into the practical thing around value proposition. But first of all, let’s take a step back, what does it actually mean? Because value proposition is being thrown around quite a lot by marketers, not so good marketers. What does it actually mean to have a value proposition?
Momoko: I actually threw this into the Conversion Excel Facebook group. I found that the more that I was looking into the context of how the Webster's dictionary definition of value proposition, how that’s put forth, when I was prepping to do my talk last year at Conversion Excel Live. I asked the group because I was like, “Is it just me or is the word value proposition just needlessly confusing and abstract?” Isn’t really the only thing that you’re trying to do when you’re coming up with a value proposition is having a clear statement for why you should choose me, and not the myriad of other options out there where it’s an actual product competitor, or just some other existing solution that will get the job done, but isn’t necessarily a competing product.
I feel that’s actually thing you should be focused on when you think about what your value proposition is, just accept the fact that people are skeptical and when you are trying to first pitch them to give up money, they’re gonna err on the side of no. Because people don’t wanna give up money for no reason. You have to give them a really clear reason. Like, “This is the benefit I provide you. This is why I do it better than the other options that are out there.” That’s the only thing that you should be really focused on.
I think the thing that’s really interesting, that I kind of noticed with myself, but also because I do so much customer research for my clients is that we’re actually super good at coming up with value propositions in our heads when we are the customer. We’re terrible at it when we are the sales person or the marketer, unless you’re a good sales person. Those guys and women are amazing.
But when you’re a customer, you’re doing that all the time, because you’re on the internet, you’re shopping around, you’re buying stuff. In this day and age, we buy stuff everyday, it’s basically the part of our daily routine. We’re always making choices and there’s always a bazillion choices. When we’re going about in our daily routine and buying stuff we are constantly asking ourselves that question, “Why should I buy x and not y? What’s the pros? What are the cons?” We’re going over that question.
We make these choices all the time. We’re always coming up with a value proposition that worked for us and we deduce it ourselves. I feel like good marketers and good, I guess, marketers, they are the ones who provide that answer for you. You know what I mean? You’re doing that question in your head already, all the time.
If you can just fill in that slot and just give that to the person so that it matches their state of mind, where they’re at in the life, and the right scenario, you just make that overlap work, then you’re golden. There’s no thinking involved. They’ll just be like, “Yeah, okay. I’m gonna buy it. Obviously, I would buy you.” But nobody thinks like that when they’re coming up with it.
Louis: This is a very good point. Let’s take a step back. Your value proposition is a message that really convince people to buy from you. Right?
Momoko: Yeah, that’s it.
Louis: That’s your definition. That sounds simple but it’s actually as you nailed, it’s really difficult to do in particular because, not only marketers, people who are trying to launch a new product or people involved in it, who are not necessarily marketers, salespeople. It is difficult for everyone particularly because it’s so tough to see the forest from the tree. It’s so tough to get out of your own business and dealing with things you’re doing day-to-day. You start to forget the actual truth, the actual reasons why people buy from you.
Momoko: Yeah. I feel like that’s the other thing too. Especially if you’re kind of the defactum. These days, if you can code up a digital product, you can just put the marketing hat on. You can build a product and then you can straddle both roles. You build the product and then you also are trying to sell the product. It doesn’t have to be divided anymore. There’s so many people who, my husband is one of them, he just launched a product online for real estate. You can end up being super close to the product.
Then because you’re so excited about the things that you’re building, and the things that you can make work, which is exciting in itself, you forget whether or not it was really cool the way you implemented this feature, and made it work, and it’s something that nobody else has, you lose sight of the fact that people can still live without it. Just because you made it and just because it’s technically really admirable what you did, and how much elbow grease and thought, and it’s just smart in terms of how you made it, it doesn’t mean that in itself will convince someone to part with their money.
They’re going off in their own world. They have their own priorities. It’s just like, “Have you made your case for them putting their money on your product as opposed to something else they might wanna buy?” There’s always that decision going on in their head. I think that especially when you’re building a product so close to it, it can really be - I think everybody struggles with that. I even struggle with that. It’s no problem for me to take on a client’s challenge because I get to be objective and I have a blank slate. I can just be, “Well, based on what you have on your homepage right now, this isn’t XYZ. It’s totally not clear to me, so it’s probably not clear to other people.”
Louis: Yes. It’s easy as a consultant because you can really take a distance but I think we’ve nailed the problem pretty well. A lot of listeners are probably nodding their heads when they hear you talking because this is the key problem. We really struggle to come up with our own value proposition regardless of the size of the business and regardless of the role that we are involved in.
Let’s get started into the step-by-step practical approach to it. How to create a fantastic value proposition? How do you actually go about it? Let’s start with step one. Let’s say you are actually starting out to a new client of yours or maybe you are planning to promote your own thing, what is step one?
Momoko: Step one is making sure that we actually do some surveys. I like to build the value proposition based on empirical research as opposed to just blueskying it and coming up with some catchy tagline or whatever that people can do when they get too insular. What I’ll do is as soon as we get started, the first thing I do, I’m like, “I need you to set up a customer survey that’s gonna go out to all your paying customers who like your product.” We’re gonna set up an onsite visitor survey to actually get some insight from your prospect who are hitting the site, to find out more about your product, what their expectations are. And then I do a battery of research but that’s secondary. The main things is the onsite visitor survey and then a customer survey.
Louis: Okay. Let’s start with customer survey as step one. You said paying customer who like your product. Do you mean that you really need to focus on sending a survey to people who like your product only?
Momoko: No, no, no. It doesn’t have to be like that at all but it should be paying customers, assuming that you have them. Assuming that you have them, then you send that out. My surveys tend to be about eight questions or so, but there are two questions that are super, super important in terms of value propositions specifically. The first question digs into finding out what is the top benefit that they get. You can say top benefit, you can say best result. The question should be framed in a way where you’re asking the customer like, “How has your life improved?” Think of before you use product x and after. What would you say is the top benefit that you’re gotten from using x product. That’s question one.
Louis: Okay. That’s a great first question.
Momoko: Yeah. I’ll get into why that’s so important in a second. The second question, and this is the one that people usually always do include and they forget the first one, which I would say is almost more important. But the second question focuses on differentiation. At the moment of purchase, ultimately, why did you decide to go with us as opposed to somebody else? That’s that trying to figure out what is that competitive edge that stood out to them that made them tip the scales in your favor.
Those two questions are really important because they get into a, what is the desired outcome, what’s the motivation for why someone would even wanna use your product, and then b, how you can deliver that outcome to the person in a way that, on some level, is exclusively better than other options out there.
Louis: I’m right to say that those questions should really be open-ended.
Momoko: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. However, that’s why I do like to include the visitor survey, like a pop-up survey that goes out on the actual website because you can get away with asking open-ended questions to paying customers, especially if they liked your product, and like your friend, they’ll be generous with their responses, and they tend to be pretty great. You can give them 6-8 open-ended question and they’ll answer them. Visitors, not so much. I don’t think I would ever put up a pop-up survey that asks a bunch of open-ended questions because they don’t have the time and they have no loyalty to you.
Louis: That’s a good point. Before going to these website survey thing, let’s finish the survey - no, no, no problem. That’s my job. The survey, you ask those two critical questions and then I assume you also ask question about who they are potentially. I know we are really needing the value proposition. If you think those are the two questions that are really critical for value proposition, then I’m gonna ask you the question, what tools you do recommend to send surveys or what do you usually use yourself in your stack?
Momoko: Well, you’re gonna love this. I actually use Hotjar, all the time. I just wanna be clear. I have no affiliation with Hotjar. They do not pay me but the thing I really like about the Hotjar survey, and a lot of people don’t realize they can do this, is that the visitor survey pop-ups, if you wanna try to get people’s attention to fill out a survey on a website, I find that the invite is really unintrusive. It’s just a gentle model that just pops-up and asks could I get your feedback. It’s not very disruptive and it’s easy to get rid off.
I like that because I feel that it’s designed in a way that respects the customer journey on the website. But I usually use that in conjunction - the survey is created in Hotjar and then whatever email marketing platform the client is using is how we will send up, specifically to the paying customer, that’s how we would send it out. The thing that’s really important is that survey needs to only be sent to a list of paying customers.
Ideally, have a two week window about that in terms of from now to two weeks ago, exclude anyone who’s bought in that time. You do wanna give them time to use the product before they could give their feedback, but you can always have another question that goes immediately right after somebody buys that kind of digs into, “Why did you…?”
Momoko: “Why did you decide to choose us?” But that’s a whole other thing. It’s supporting intel, I guess.
Louis: For the sake of simplification, I guess, those two questions and selecting the paying customer is probably a good first step. Step two, and you started mentioning the tool, obviously, as you guys know, maybe you don’t, I do work for Hotjar, and everyonehatesmarketers.com is a side project. As Momoko mentioned, she’s not affiliated with Hotjar at all.
Momoko: Yeah, just to be clear.
Louis: I’m not trying to promote Hotjar whatsoever. It just sometimes, it happens naturally that people use it. We will mention other alternatives but let’s focus on the mechanism behind it instead of the tool because at the end of the day, this is what matters. Things can change in 10 years or 20 years but the methods will remain the same. You actually advise to change way to ask question for those people because as you said, they don’t really care. In all honesty, they don’t give a shit about you. What they are looking for is just something and maybe they are looking for information, maybe they’re looking for something else, looking for prices, and obviously they’re not gonna spend the time to answer eight open-ended questions.
Momoko: Oh, yeah. They only have have so much attention when they’re on your site anyway. If you’re wasting that time trying to get information for them for value proposition messaging, you maybe interrupting their ability to go and actually buy something. You gotta pick your battles. For visitor surveys, I only ask maybe about five questions, and almost all of them are choose an answer or fill in other… Just to be clear, one of the things that’s really important, when you send out your customer survey to your paying customers, it’s great because they can tell you about what’s so great about your product but they might not actually recall their state of mind all that accurately from before they had your product and what they were really looking for.
What was on their mind, top of mind, most important priority when they were originally buying the product especially for a long term customer, their memory might have blurred since then. That’s why I think it’s important to also send out the visitor survey and get the one question that’s really important on top of the two questions that you send out to your customers is for the visitor survey just get a sense - ask them, “What is the number one thing you’re looking for in a blank?” Whatever your product category is. If it’s accounting software, I don’t know, and you’re selling accounting software, then the question would be, “What are you looking for most when shopping for accounting software?” You give them a list of five options.
Ideally, you have some sense of what these options might be, like what are important to people when they’re buying, and then obviously you include other so that they can, if in case the choices you made are totally off the mark, they can out in their own answer. That’s really important.
Louis: Let me catch you right there because you said “obviously” but I don’t think it’s that obvious at all, actually.
Momoko: Oh, okay.
Louis: No, no, no. It’s fine. As I said before, it’s my job. The on-site survey, I think good tip here when you select the type of choices that people can choose from is to really use potentially initial research you’ve done with paid customers to really kind of pin point maybe the biggest reasons why people have bought from you or the key things they are looking for, and then as you said, adding your own stuff that you think are important. Mixing those two would probably give you a good snapshot from visitors on what they are actually looking for.
Momoko: Yeah. One of the things you can do also to zero in on what that short list of priorities are is you can, depending on your product, you can go to a competitor product, especially if you’re in a saturated marketplace or whatever, you can go to your own product reviews or you can to competitor product reviews, and read those and see what actually people who buy or who are looking, and talking with other people about their choices, what they’re prioritizing. You can kind of get a sense of what people really care about. It’s surprising the amount of product review, open-ended content you can read. That’s a good starting point, you just need some initial research to inform your further research outreach method.
Louis: That’s very important. That’s something Joanna Wiebe mentioned in this podcast.
Momoko: Oh, yeah.
Louis: Her episode just went out I think a week or two before yours, actually. She did mentioned mining third party reviews in your category.
Momoko: Yeah, I got that from her. I totally learned that from her.
Louis: She’s a clever cookie.
Louis: I don’t wanna go into too much details on this particular step because, as I said, we did talk about it before but your take on this is interesting as well because you will use that to inform the choices that people will make on the on-site survey, and even the customer survey. I would ideally pick competitors and your own product and look at reviews and identify once again the same type of things, the biggest reason why people bought this one instead of something else.
Momoko: Yeah. I use one to inform the other because what I put, I think I go over this in my course, but one of the things about message mining it’s so good for finding really good proto material for headlines and subheads, and just awesome copy, it’s so helpful. But, at the same time, because user reviews are so standard and open-ended, even when I review formats such as, “What do you like about product x?” Some puts in a bunch of answers. They even name five things.
I often recommend especially if you’re an early stage startup and you don’t have the luxury of asking a bunch of paying customers to give their input on what the best benefit is in terms of using your product or why they chose you or whatever. If you’re super early stage, you don’t even have that luxury because you have no one to ask. No one’s paying for your product yet. You’re trying to get it out the door. A really common tactic among conversion copywriters which has been super popularized from Joanna is message mining.
Go to your competitor’s product reviews and read those and check them out. But there’s no way to quantify the weight of one message over another in a really accurate way when you’re message mining. You could take five bits of copy from one review, one bit of copy from another review, not the sample size of two but one’s weighted five times more than the other, if you’re just tallying up which statement was said most often. Does that make sense?
Louis: It does.
Momoko: Yeah, [inaudible 00:23:2] sample size gets really messed up so you can a pay-per-response survey to sort of like you look at the message value and like, “Well, reading all these review, I’m getting the sense that the number one thing people are looking for is X.” Then you can take that which is kind of a bit messy but you have an impression of what’s important and then go to Pollfish of something, and then just send out a pay-per-response review that targets your prospects, and then see from a very clear survey question that’s like, “Which do you prioritize most? A, B, or C?” You can see which one’s a front runner and you’d get a way more objective and properly quantified understanding of which thing is most important.
Louis: Okay. Let me stop you right here because I think that the two steps you mentioned come before the survey and [inaudible 00:24:18] survey. I think in the way you explained things, it seems like message mining or review mining is probably step one, and step two is probably what you just mentioned.
Momoko: Well, yeah. Step one, message mining takes a much bigger role in the process if you don’t have customers to ask and if you have a low-traffic website. It depends. For early stage, yeah, message mining first then survey. Then go back to message mining to find actual pieces of copy because that’s the best way to be able to get really sticky copy as Joanna say. But if you are an established company, and you have lots of traffic, and you have a long list of paying customers, start with that first and just get a sense of what people care. If you can get input on your products specifically, go for that first.
Louis: That’s a great point and that’s a good differentiation. I think we have a good base to work from. I usually, at this stage, you should have enough answers, and you basically have an Excel spreadsheets of all of those answers. Is that typically what you have at the end of this steps?
Momoko: Oh, yeah.
Louis: Okay. Then what do we do?
Momoko: This basically comes down to categorizing then quantifying the message themes. You have a bunch of survey responses from visitors, you have a bunch of survey responses from customers where you say, “Hi, there,” for the first question for the customer survey was, “What’s the top benefit? What’s the number one thing that you get out of using our product?” You would go through and you would look over those because the people are gonna say it in their own words, so what I do is, I’ll go through and just categorize generally what each - you make an extra column in your spreadsheet beside the response. You basically create tags that group everything, all the responses into overall themes.
Momoko: You can come up with those as you see fit. There’s a bit of an art to it. You don’t want them to be too fine, you don't want them to be too general. It’s just the overall topic, the overall takeaway, and when you strip away idiosyncratic language someone is using because of how they speak or whatever. That’s what I’ll do. That is the most laborious part of the process that you go through when you tag all those, and then especially in Excel, or Google spreadsheets, or whatever, you can create a pivot table that will just take that and then give you account tally of which theme came up most often.
Louis: Let me stop you right there because I’ve actually done this exercise with some of my listeners recently. This is it. You basically have open-ended answer in one column, you add a second column, and you read the answer. You try to understand what is the theme, what is the category of this answer, and for example for me, I got a lot of answers such as, “I like how your guest goes through practical steps in the podcast that dives deeper than most.” In this instance, practical is the target we’ve used but also, I would save that as an interesting quote that I could use in the future. I would tally that quote as well.
Momoko: Yes, absolutely. Oh, we got the same process which is great.
Momoko: Conversion evolution.
Louis: It’s not magic though. It’s just how it work, as you said. It’s a bit of an art, I agree with you. It takes a bit of time. If you’ve never done that before, it’s gonna take a bit of time to really get to the bottom of how to tax different categories. But please do not try to use AI or anything like this to do that for you. You need a human to review it somehow.
Momoko: I’ve been trying to write - I’m doing a data science, like one of those of Coursera, John Hopkins data science courses, because I think, understanding statistics and stuff is really important if you’re gonna be in conversion optimization even if you’re a copywriter. One of the projects is to come up with your own machine-learning based thing.This is the thing that’s been driving me crazy. I am trying to figure out if you can use natural language processing to be able to text mine and pull out themes.
I can’t get it to - it never compares with what a human can do. It drives me crazy because I’m trying. It would make my life so much easier. It’d make all of our lives so much easier if this thing just worked. If you could just put in a bunch of survey response. Some machine could just tell you like, “Yes, the number one thing people care about is this.” But there is all [inaudible 00:29:43] terrible.
Louis: Yes, the [inaudible 00:29:46] are usually terrible but there is an idea if somebody’s clever enough to pull that off. This is definitely…
Momoko: No, no, no. I wanna try to make it [inaudible 00:29:55] side project.
Louis: Right, you haven’t completed it. A tip actually, something I’ve used recently to save a bit of time is usually when I have a lot of open-ended answer in front of me, I would plug that into an Ngram analyzer. If you google Ngram analyzer you have a free tool. You just paste the text in it and it’s gonna tell you how many times specific words or two words together have been mentioned. Usually that helps you perhaps categorize things a bit better and a bit faster.
Momoko: Yes, that’s true. Definitely. There’s also the option of especially if you - I live in Canada so Mechanical Turk doesn’t even work, we can’t even use it which is really unfortunate, but there’s also no reason why you can’t go on TaskArmy. If you can find someone who’s good at data entry and you’d like explain how to do it, and you sort of get it started for them, you can do it, and do the first 20 questions, so they can see how you fill it out, and be like, “Go do the rest, please.” That’s another option.
Louis: You can definitely do that but I would advise not to do it. I would advise not to delegate it if you haven’t done it before.
Momoko: Oh, yes. If you haven’t done it before, don’t do that because you need to actually go over the results and make sure that they’re doing it right. But if you’ve done it a million times, and you wanna find someone to take it off your plate, that is an option.
Louis: Right. We have now an Excel spreadsheet. We have tags next to each thing. And then you mentioned this weird thing called pivot tables. For people who who don’t know what a pivot table is, it’s a nice way that Excel has to summarize data into tables that are actually easy to digest. If you don’t know how to use it, you should definitely google pivot table Excel, and you will find tutorials to help you read it. But it’s a good advice that to create a pivot table that neatly summarize the data into accounts that says, “Well, this thing has been mentioned 20 times. This one has been mentioned five times. This one has been mentioned three times,” etcetera.
Momoko: Yeah, absolutely. Once you have that then you can get a sense of if you have your top benefit is, I don’t know, whatever it is. Going back to the example of accounting software or something and then they say the tops benefit of using your product is the, “It frees me up to focus on other things.” Maybe that’s the top thing that people bring up, frees up time. Your tag will be frees up time basically. Then you can do that, you can grab all of the customer survey responses that were tagged as frees up time.
As you mentioned before, you’ve probably also, as you’ve been going along, tagging which ones are specifically very colorful, memorable, vivid descriptions that you think will be good for headlines. You can go back over those entries and start finding terms and phrase and stuff that are particularly eye-catching for being able to communicate that value proposition later on the actual copy.
Louis: Right. That’s almost two steps.We had step one, depending on the subject of business to actually mine data. Step two, survey from paying customer. Step three on-site survey. Step four, collecting the data in Excel. Step five, tagging those dat. Step six, creating a pivot table and tally. Step seven is actually to also identify the key quotes so when you tag really be sure to mention, to tag those quotes that are, as you said, vivid, colorful that they just sound right. They are like, “Oh my god, I’ve never thought about it this way but it makes so much sense.”
Momoko: Yes. That’s what Joanna probably mentioned. She calls it sticky copy. It’s the copy that evokes an image in your mind or a sensory perception in your mind and it just really drives home a firsthand account feeling of whatever that benefit is. It hits the emotional trigger.
Momoko: That’s what you would go with for part of your headline.
Louis: Exactly. It should trigger the visual spectrum in your brain. It should feel like there’s something different about these quotes. It’s difficult for us maybe to tell you. Perhaps I can go quickly into my Excel spreadsheet and select one. Actually, I’m gonna do that now because it’s so interesting. It’s difficult without looking at the actual answers that people gave to you. It’s difficult to explain but I think if I can find a sample right now, which I’m doing, what I’m doing is live which is improvising.
Momoko: Do it live! Well, I have an example. I have a good example that came up recently when I was doing sort of a beta version of a course that I’m writing right now or well, I just wrapped it. It was for a very specific type of B2B software but it was kind of that vendor type software where it’s the software that you buy so that you can just meet a particular client’s requirements to work with you.
This was a very interesting example because it was like, “Oh, we’re not even talking about a consumer product.” This is a crazy weirdly obscure corporate product actually everybody uses in back channels of supply chain stuff. But nobody actually in the real world that it exists. When we actually ended up surveying people and surveying customers and saying like, “Why did you start with us? What’s the number one benefit that you got?”
A lot of the response that we got were like, the tops thing was that, “Because I had to. Because I couldn’t do business with this person. It was a requirement. It was the supplier’s requirement or those are the vendor’s requirement.” That was kind of hard to make a good headline. Like, “What’s the headline gonna be like?” “Well, buy this because you have to.”
Louis: That sounds good.
Momoko: Yeah. It’s not the best one. That was a really interesting challenge to have as a course guinea pig. But we ended up find out, we went over some more testimonial content, some more words of customer feedback, and one person responded. One guy said, “The thing I love about this product is that it allows me to say yes to every vendor, to every client, every person who wants to do business with me. If have this already, we can do business. I can say yes to every retailer.” I was like, “Ahh, that is a great headline because that really drives home vividly the freedom, the emotional freedom, the power that you have.
You’re triggering that where you can say, “Say yes to every retailer.” Just boom. It’s not about, “Well, I do it because I have to.” Or, “Because it was a requirement.” That completely changed the feeling around it. As soon as I saw it, I was going through all these responses, I was just like, “Some of these are okay but I don’t know if I’d use any of these as a headline.” Then I saw that and I was like, “Woah, that’s taken cared of. That’s my headline.” It just stands out. You just see it and you’re like, “Oh, yeah.”
Louis: I found two examples to share with you. Listeners like the fact that this podcast is based on the truth and the fundamentals behind marketing, the things that won’t change tomorrow. One person said, “It teaches you to run the marathon and not the 100m sprint,” which is quite interesting. Another one when a lot of people also said that it changed the way they thought about marketing.
Somebody, a listener in particular, told me, “I like to come back to my boss after lunch and tell him have you heard of this? And he’s impressed and wonders how I came up with that.” This particular listener would actually go for lunch, listen to the podcast, and go back after lunch to her boss, and showed off.
Basically saying. “I’ve learned so many things.” There aren’t probably the best, best example I could find because I have a lot of data in front of me but it goes to show you that I would have never explained this podcast this way ever. You just had to talk to people and this is how I came up with the data. We have this categories, we have those key quotes, now, how do we come up with the value proposition?
Momoko: Value proposition, I like to think of value propositions in terms of headlines because value proposition based headline is basically like a 10-word max pitch. You might as well go right from there and try to state your case as a headline. What I would normally do is, for a value proposition headline, this is where the bits and pieces of the survey kind of come together. It usually follows some kind of, and this is ideally the great place to put it is the home page for example, it’s just all kinds of different traffic or just coming to figure out what you’re all about, and you wanna just straight off the bat, not being clever about it, or cute, or coy, coming up with weird turns of phrase, or whatever.
Just a straight shot sentence of, “We’re the only product. We’re the biggest product. We’re the…” some superlative adjective and then you bring up the product category that you’re in because you need to make sure that you’re actually clear, like if you’re accounting software, you better tell them what you’re offering is accounting software because you have a lot of people who are coming who wanna just be oriented about what is this, am I in the right place. You need to make sure that you include that keyword in there of what you’re actually selling and not trying to obscure it by being clever.
And then, basically, the rest of the headline is where you fill in the top desired outcome or top benefit. You’re headline is like, “The only accounting software that lets you blah.” That’s where you fill in that survey response. You don’t necessarily need to be - it don’t have to be the only thing. Depending on what your visitor say that they’re looking for or however you can differentiate yourself. You can say like, “The biggest.” Don’t say the best. The best is not a good adjective to use because it means nothing.
Louis: Yeah, don’t lie.
Momoko: But the focus is basically just straight shot say that you’re the product x that lets you achieve the thing that most people are looking for.
Louis: Right. You said something very quickly that I think is absolutely critical. You said that your homepage is usually the place where many different types of traffic comes in with different intent. I think this is something that we need to nail. This is a strong value proposition is so powerful. This is why instead of saying, “We are revolutionizing accounting, blah, blah, blah.” That doesn’t make any sense. You need to really make it very clear because some people from search might come from just looking from accounting information.
People coming from paid might come from branded search. They might actually look for your particular brand. Social media type of traffic might come from a completely different perspective again and again. The only thing, in a sense, that really would work for anyone is a value proposition that is, as you said, simple, makes sense, that people actually agree with, that basically people can afford.
Momoko: Yeah. That’s something I think that people try where people go wrong with value propositions is they focus way too much on how to differentiate themselves. They look at competitors and say like, “How can we say something different than or make ourselves sound different than X, Y, and Z competitors?” Instead of focusing on the actual people who are landing on your website, and your customers, and what the customers want, and making your messaging just fit that requirement.
Just to add on to that, the other thing that people I feel do where they go wrong with their value proposition headlines on their homepage is that, they want to be overly unique in establishing their brand identity and what they’re all about, and that tends to compromise the clarity of what you’re offering. Yes, sometimes a value proposition headline is not the sexiest headline because it needs to be super clear. You can’t risk implying something about what you offer. You just need to be straight about it. We provide this product that gives you this benefit.
If you can add on to that in some way that lets people know the exclusive option, the exclusive differentiator or benefit to add on to that to make you different, then that’s a bonus. But sometimes, you can’t always get that in there but it’s a good thing to have. I’m trying to think of like the Pet Doors as an example. I did petdoors.com as an example in my conversion Excel course and I can’t remember the headline that we came up with. But I know it’s still on their website a year later.
Louis: I’m gonna let you take a look. I’m gonna just maybe summarize a bit what you said. This is critical. Amen to that because you will be able to stand out and differentiate yourself by being clear because 99% and this is just a random number I’m saying so don’t quote me on that. But 99% of companies and headlines and value propositions online don’t make any sense. I’m not clear. I’m not talking to the right person. Your opportunity to stand out is just by, as Momoko said, making it clear, making it effective, making it honest, and transparent. You will improve your conversions if you have a value proposition that was average.
Momoko: But just clear.
Momoko: Yeah. It’s just a clear motivation aligned value proposition, like a value proposition that’s aligned with that your customers want. That is an exceptional value proposition. That’s way ahead of the curve for most people when it comes to their website. Most of the time, when I’m working with clients, that’s the objective. They’ve gone so far off the rails trying to be exceptional in all these overly subtle ways that they’ve just missed the entire point of just making it clear to customers that you have what they’re looking for, what they’d like to use. For example, I just want to give you the headline, I just looked it up now.
The petdoors.com headline that we ended up going with is, “Shop the World's Largest Selection of Built-to-Last, Weather-Tight Pet Doors.” In that headline, I included - it’s petdoors.com so you better be looking for pet doors if you’re there, but obviously, have the word pet doors in there because you’re selling pet doors. It says, shop. We found out through our survey responses that the number one differentiator that people, for why they ended up choosing, from petdoors.com as opposed to somewhere else was that they had the largest and more comprehensive selection. So, “Shop the World's Largest Selection...” which is actually true, “... of Built-to-Last, Weather-Tight Pet Doors,” because when we asked around with the visitor surveys, “What’s the number one thing you were looking for?”
The two things that came up were being weathertight and being durable, so quality and durability. When we talked to the customer survey, we surveyed the customers, they said that the number one benefit that they’ve gotten from buying from petdoors.com, it was the resilience. It was how durable and what good quality it was and all that stuff. There is a very clear overlap between what people wanted and what people got but the website copy was getting in the way of that flow.
All we had to do was come up with the value proposition that opened that up and showed that, “Yes, you will get exactly what you’re looking for.” The number one thing you’re looking for is durable, weathertight pet doors, and you need an obscure part that not everyone has, like “You can get it here.” It was very easy in that respect and it worked really well. They still have it up there now.
Louis: This is a fantastic example because pet doors are not necessarily the sexiest product to sell and you need to try to get response about it. You just take it as it is based on people’s research. They still have it today meaning that it probably worked. Do you have any numbers potentially between the headline that was there prior and the new headline you came up with?
Momoko: Well, yeah. We ran the full page. It was redesign of the full page. Since then, they’ve gotten like, I can’t remember. I know that when we ran the test, we ran a couple of tests back to back, and we ended up getting 51% increase in transaction rate, and 92% increase in revenue per visitor, something like that. It was a very good. It was a huge bonus. But then since then they’ve had it, I went back six months later because I like to double check and see how are things going with these people I’ve worked with.
Louis: This is the beauty of this podcast is you can hear. We are not staging any of it. This is, another thing by the way, that people like about this podcast, is the conversations, not the overly staged questions and answer that we really, really hear typically in a podcast.
Momoko: Yeah, we increased the revenue per visitor by doing a value proposition based overhaul of the home page. We increased the revenue per visitor by 145%.
Momoko: Yeah. To be fair, I do need to make sure that it’s understood that they had a pretty standard ecommerce homepage to begin with. I think, you can get a lot of wins following these basic principles. Obviously, if you have a highly optimized homepage, and you’re been iterating for ages, and you’re really getting it down, you might not be able to get those types of results. I just wanna make that clear because I always wanna make sure that people understand it. Yes, it’s great to get wins like that but it also really depends on the context. If it’s a completely unoptimized page, yeah, you can definitely get a lot of wins out of it.
Louis: Perhaps I can ask you a trick question.
Momoko: Oh, no.
Louis: Something that might put you out of your comfort zone. Can you share a case that either actually went bad? Can you share a point where you tried to work with a client, it just didn’t work?
Momoko: Well, one thing that I think is interesting, the one thing that comes off at the top of my head, if you look at this homepage, well, obviously we’re on audio only, but f you got to petdoors.com, the original homepage that we had, we had a section - I didn’t get to talk about this when I went over it in my talk but we had a homepage that if you scroll down on it, it went from the top of the page was very value proposition focused, like value proposition, benefit, call to action, go.
Once you scroll further, it started to have a section that I like to usually include that really agitates pain points. That’s part of including that narrative, agitating that pain point, so that people feel and remember why they would wanna get a pet door in the first place. Then it gets into the demonstrating the solution and that’s so great and all those great details about product-related benefits, and then you go into reassurances, and then you go into call to action.
That’s the general flow that I like to follow that I like to call the why tribe bi-flow. But when we ran it the first time, we were getting an increase in clicks in the value proposition or the call to action at the top of the page. But then I found that we’re getting okay results with the first test but it wasn’t great. I can’t remember what it was. It was definitely an improvement but it wasn’t something I was happy with. I was scratching my head as to why this might be happening but thankfully, and I strongly recommend everybody do this, I had run a heatmap on the new test page, as well as the control page, so that I could get a sense of engagement of what people are doing when they hit the page.
As I scrolled down, I noticed that when they got to the part that started trying to introduce the pain related narrative like, “Oh, it’s so tough not having a pet door whatever. You have to get up all the time to let the dog out. Blah, blah, blah.” When it got to that section, there was a drop off. I could see people, they were getting that point, and it was kind of losing people. My hypothesis from that, and I suspected this, just looking at the page that we came up with, because the SEO of the company told me, he’s like, “Well, people who come to our site, they know what they want. They know they’re here to get a pet door. They have a pretty good sense of what they’re looking for and all that stuff..”
Their product awareness was very high. My suspicion was, are people gonna have patience to bother going through the sort of story-related narrative that kind of walks them through like, “Oh,” recounts the experience of not having a pet door or people do not have enough patience for that. They just wanna get to the product and buy it. Once I saw that, I was like, “Mmm, I think we need to cut that part out.” The part that tries to introduce, recounting the story, the pain, the before, and then bringing in the after, “Let’s just get rid of the before. Let’s just take it out and then we rerun the test.” We took that part out and then we rerun the test where it went straight from value proposition to as you scrolled down, just more details about how awesome the products are, and what you get out of it. None of the stuff about how crappy it is not having a pet door.
Once we did that, then we got significant improvement on results. That was worth something went wrong. That was one of the things, and this is something that I have been encouraging in my subsequent data course that I did recently, is that don’t stop at the first iteration. You do the first one, make sure you have a heatmap on that page so you can see how people are engaging with it, and you can do that with Hotjar.
Then if something goes a little off about it, you have something to work with to further optimize. People don’t do that. They’ll just blindly run a test and then they don’t know if something’s not really working, they have no idea why. That’s an example that always comes to mind. I love that result because it’s not win or lose, it’s win or learn.
Louis: It’s a pretty good way to end this step-by-step and value proposition. I think we went into a lot of details which is great. What do you think, marketers in general, not only marketers now, but marketers, tech people, and founders should learn today that will help them in the next 10 years, 20 years, or 50 years?
Momoko: Oh. In 10 years, 20 years, or 50 years. Honestly, I know that we’re kind of saying don’t use AI to read our survey responses, but I do think, as a marketer, getting more familiar with machine learning in general, it doesn’t mean that you have to know how to run this stuff, but I do think that machine learning, has a lot of potential to anticipate need, and to anticipate desire, and that’s something that marketers that’s kind of your wheelhouse.
I think that’s a good thing to understand. I think, overtime, it’s gonna get to a point where it’s not really about - you’re gonna have to be literate enough to talk about the machine learning algorithms that you have running and figure out when they go sideways, like how to you may wanna tweak, and optimize, and stuff as you go because it’s gonna be a part of the process I think. If we’re talking about 10 years, 20 years definitely. You’re not gonna be doing that part manually anymore. You’re gonna write machine learning algorithms that will go and optimize themselves based on factors that you have chosen. Like predictor variables that you have chosen as being important and optimize according to that.
You have to be able to be literate enough to go in there and say, “Yeah, maybe we should incorporate this other variables, or take this out, or this one’s gone haywire, whatever.” I think that’s really important. I think another one is, and this is on the complete other end of the spectrum, but at the same time as being more familiar with machine learning, and automating that kid of intel. Incorporating really good customer service and really good customer compassion at the same time because that’s something that keeps the customer. You can use all kinds of crazy tactics to capture the interest or to find out where the interest is and funnel it into your business.
But at the end of the day, the more, and more I talk to customers of my clients and stuff, if you treat the customer well, then they stay, and the you keep making money off of them which is really important. It’s a part of the marketing life cycle that I think is highly neglected and over emphasized. It’s left to these unknown soldiers or unsung heroes who are in the customer service department who happen to be, they’re very good at what they do, they keep the customer for you. I think that’s the other side that I think is really important.
Louis: What are the top three resources you would recommend to people in particular. That could be podcasts, book, conferences, whatever it is. You have to pick three though.
Momoko: Okay. For me, in terms of messaging and copy, I always say Copy Hackers is the best one to go to. I’ve been saying that for years. I would go there if you need messaging and copy help. If you need analytics help, I find that LunaMetrics is a really good blog. I can’t pick a runner up for that because I have like three blogs that I like to go to. Obviously, LunaMetrics I find they’re great. I guess for high-level, not necessarily high-level but broad spectrum conversion optimization strategy, Conversion Excel and the Facebook group is really good one I’d say.
Louis: Momoko, you’ve been a pleasure. I learned a lot from you today. I hope that listeners will as well. I actually know that they will. You shared a lot of nuggets. Where can listeners connect with you and know more from you?
Momoko: Well, if you wanna connect with me, I actually killed my Facebook, and I killed my Twitter. I’m on Instagram for @momokoprice if you wanna just - but it’s basically pictures of me with bruises and cauliflower hair from going to the MMA Jam. That might not be the best way to connect with me. LinkedIn is still there. But if you really wanna talk to me or just keep in touch with what I’m doing, and get a dial out going, you can go on my website and there’s an option to download my value proposition book and through there, I actually send out letters to my list of people that I’m engaging with, and we just go back and forth, and I give updates about what I’m doing and stuff. There is that too, firstname.lastname@example.org is also my email. I love email.
Louis: You mentioned your website but you haven’t…
Momoko: Oh, sorry. It’s kantan.io.
Louis: Great. Momoko, once again, thank you so much for your time.
Momoko: Alright man. It’s good to talk to you.