Value Proposition

How To W.I.N. Everyday


When it comes to WIN’ing there’s a lot of noise online. I did this so you don’t have to, but if you Google’d WIN strategy you’d get all kinds of nonsense. You’d get scammy internet marketers trying to sell you winning online business blueprints, you’d get big-name management consulting firms trying to sell you their ideas about how you can create a winning proposal to land your next piece of business, and you’d see all kinds of generic win-win negotiation stuff. I don’t want to do any of that today. I’m not interested in selling you anything, well, maybe on the idea that you could benefit from thinking about what’s important at the moment more often. 

Like I said, none of that noise is what we’re here today to talk about. For today W.I.N is an acronym for “what’s important now”. And believe it or not, it actually took me a few tries before I could even find any resources that mentioned this methodology as anything more than a stitched-together series of anecdotes or Instagram ready visuals. When you give it a few tries you might uncover that “what’s important now” was actually popularized (dare I say coined) by one of history's more colorful college football coaches, Notre Dame’s (along with a few others) Lou Holtz. We’re not going to talk about all of Coach Lou’s professional ups and downs but I do want to dig a little deeper into his “what’s important now” methodology. 

Coach Lou was known to ask his players “What’s important now?” all the time. When they were struggling with their course loads, having personal issues, working on the field, and especially when it came to all the collegiate athletes being seduced with big dollars while still being in school. 

Its impact was mirrored by how simple and straightforward the question was. 

I already know what you’re thinking...You’re thinking about how you’re not a Notre Dame football player coming up in the mid-‘90s right now. And you’re right! But that doesn’t mean that good coaching should be kicked aside just because it’s from the era that gave us big-band ska music. 

“Zoot Suit Riot” by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies anyone?

Instead of just leaving you with another generalization about how it’s important to check in with yourself and your business from time to time by asking “What’s important now?” let’s unpack it. 

This question is often asked at a point of inflection or when a choice has to be made. But what about what happens before that? I’d argue that if you are just running around asking yourself “What’s important now?” you’ll be making all kinds of inefficient choices. When you answer that question without any context you’ll be making decisions based on the maximization of outcomes for wherever you happen to be at the moment.

That’s dangerous! 

The thing that I think gets most overlooked when people recite a platitude like this from a guy like Coach Lou is the context for what’s going on in their lives or businesses. If we’re talking college football then those players had extreme routines, performance expectations, growth plans, goals, and were part of a system that was designed for them to put in the work (take massive action) necessary for them to be successful. Most of us don’t have the resources of a globally recognized institution, like Notre Dame, behind us when we’re trying to build our businesses but, that doesn’t mean we can’t create our own environments for success. 

So how can you set yourself up so that when you ask yourself this question you’re not just leaning into the whims of the day? 

By being strong in your mission, vision, and values. Sounds old-timey cliche but hear me out. 

Business plans and written strategic plans are written (most of the time) for the benefit of investors, lenders, managers, and sometimes to just say that it’s been done. In my experience, they are very rarely relied on or even referenced when it comes to the day to day operations of a business. Don’t believe me, as I sit here literally editing this post Crash Course video just dropped with Anna Akana literally validating me. Here’s the link to the Crash Course YouTube video if you’re curious. Wait, finish here first actually then go! So sure, policies are followed and goals that are actually turned into activities that are measurable, that don’t have some ambiguous due date, and whose impact can be felt get worked on regularly. But what about everything else that goes into doing the real work of building something that’s sustainable and value-adding to the people you’ve committed to serving? 

Enter mission, vision, and values.

These are the three pillars that represent how you and your business literally navigate in the world. Your belief system and everything that’s important to you is wrapped into a few different paragraphs and sentences. That’s a big deal! Subconsciously, if you have any amount of conviction behind these pillars you created there’s a good chance you’re already be measuring the decisions make them. Sometimes though, as good as our intentions are, dealing with the day to day grind can leave us possibly. 

For the sake of this post, I’m going to give you the quick and dirty for getting clear on mission, vision, and value. For more detailed conversations or to dig a little deeper check out these other posts here at the Disruptive Strategy Co Blog.

Let’s get you resolute in your business and what’s important to you so that you have as good a chance as possible to make a great decision after you ask yourself “What’s important now?”


What is it: It answers the questions of “Who are you serving?” and “How are you serving?” for your business. Answering those questions while keeping your “why” in the frame will allow the people who find you to identify with you and the problem you’re solving.  It’s short, direct and hopefully tugs at the heartstrings a bit. 

Why is it important: A clear and specific mission sets the basis for alignment with the people you’re hoping to serve. It’s also the start of the framework you’ll use for future decision making. Your mission is you and your business planting your flag in the ground. You’re announcing to the world that there are a few things that are really important to you and that you’re committed to doing the work to facilitate change for people, solve a problem, etc. 

Make it for yourself: Start by finding a few of your favorites. I love the Starbucks mission statement. It’s, “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” Nowhere in there does it say anything about coffee right? But it evokes emotion, digs a little deeper about what having a place to have coffee means to them and nods to the decisions they’ll make when it comes to big sweeping operational issues. This mission statement shows me that their biggest priority is creating a culture and it shows. There are no hard and fast parameters here but brevity wins. A sentence or two..or three is fine. Nowhere should be cheesy things like customer service, quality, loyalty, blah, blah, generic business-speak-encapsulating-what-people-already-expect-when-they-interact-with-you, blah. 


What is it: This is the explanation around the impact you hope to have and what your business will look like in the future as you continue to solve problems and make people’s lives better. Think of it as a sentence or two that paints a picture of your company in the future. 

Why is it important: It gives people the opportunity to see what you see, to participate in your quest for world domination making the world a better place. When Bill Gates started Microsoft his vision was simple, to make computing accessible to everyone. I think he’s been pretty successful with that so far. It should be easy to understand and visualize for everyone. 

Make it yourself: Again look to your favorite brands. There are no hard parameters here either. I get a chuckle every time I see Amazon’s, “Our vision is to be Earth's most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” Keep it brief, colorful and ideally relate-able so that when anyone else sees it they can nod their head and appreciate the impact you’re trying to have on the world. 


What is it: This one’s really easy to explain. Simply, these are your core principles or standards. These values are like bumpers at the bowling alley, they will guide you down the lane even if you didn’t have a good throw. Roll? Release? I should know more about bowling before I use it in a metaphor. 

Why is it important: Your values are going to be the things that people give you the hardest time about and equally love you the hardest for. It can be very Charles Dickens at times. Your values are the biggest things that are important to you, the issues that you'll fight for and protect regardless of market conditions. People like us do things like this. 

Make it yourself: This is where it gets a little challenging. With values, it’s really easy to talk a big game about how important communication is, what it means to show up every day, your commitment to actually serving people, etc… The hard part comes with doing the things you say you’re going to do. It’s only natural to get busy, have rough days and not feeling like showing up. It’s part of the process. The thing that will set you apart from the literal thousands of people trying to carve a place out in the hearts of your customers will be delivering on your values every single day. It’s going to be tough but that’s OK because you eat tough for breakfast and are in it to win it for the long game. Need a little help getting to the core of values, start with the businesses you buy from. For me, I’m a big fan of Amazon, Squarespace, ConvertKit, and a few local businesses. I gravitate towards them because they stand by what’s important to them and their values are in alignment with my own, on top of being really great value providers. 

I know this is a long one today so if you’re still with me I just wanted to say thanks. To bring this home I want to challenge you this week. My challenge is that you look at your Trello boards, Asana projects, Google Calendar entries, and even your inbox and ask yourself - “What’s important now?” Not just as a way to prioritize your to-do list for the day but in a deeper way. Regardless of the tools used to help you be productive we all run into the same decision making and productivity constraints. There’s only so much productivity bandwidth you can give, sustainably, every day. So really look at everything you have going on and honestly try to evaluate which things are worth continuing to pursue and let go of the stuff that isn’t serving you anymore. Again, I totally get that it’s easy to say and way harder to do but trust me, you’ll feel a lot better, and will actually feel like you’re winning consistently when you get to focus on the important stuff. 

Craft Better Value Propositions

Value Prop.png

Today I want to talk about Value Propositions. This is something that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves from most of business owners I talk to every day. It’s one of those exercises that everyone knows they should do but figure they can just wing it if push ever really came to shove.

I disagree.

When you’re sharing your value proposition you are literally communicating to your audience (or market) the reason they should buy from you. You are providing the answer to the discomfort or tension they are experiencing in their lives. Why wait to articulate that and potentially end up just talking yourself in circles until you lose the customer? Or worse, miss the opportunity to really serve someone.

My goal is to get you to understand that your value propositions is not something you should be winging and that it’s worth the time and effort to craft a message that will really mean something to your audience.

If you’re planning on building a business the lasts then you need to be clear that:

  • A value proposition is a message that’s more than features or benefits, it’s about letting your potential customers know that they can trust you to deliver what you’re promising in a way that will help them solve their problems.

  • Your value proposition sets the foundation for how you communicate with your market or audience and should get people thinking about what you do beyond just looking for the lowest cost option.

  • It’s literally the reason people will work with you instead of your competitors or try to find a comparable substitute.

  • It also helps to keep all your marketing and sales stuff on message. Nothing worse than thinking you’re doing an awesome job on social only to find out that people have no idea what it is you actually do.

So today we’re going to talk a bit more about what a value proposition is, why it’s important and once you come up with it - how to work it into the rest of your business.

What is value proposition?

A value proposition is a clear statement that explains how your offering solves your customer’s problems or makes their lives better. It tells your ideal customer why they should buy from you, how you’re different, and the benefits they can expect. And no, it’s definitely not just your slogan.

There are three big components in a value proposition.

  • What you do

  • What’s the benefit or transformation you’re promising (why should they care)

  • What makes you unique or different.

Getting this right means you’ve clearly identified a solution to a problem, why you and, shown your commitment to service.

What it’s NOT is a slogan or positioning statement. If your value proposition says “we’re the best”, “we have the best”, or “We’re number 1” in whatever your offer is then it’s definitely NOT a value proposition.

Why is important that you have yours clearly articulated?

If you aren’t speaking directly to your target customer in a way that mirrors how they authentically speak or like to consume information then it doesn’t matter how much good you do, no one will be able to connect with you.

Being clear about the value you provide also allows you to be specific about the value you promise. The more specific the better. What are the quantifiable and unquantifiable benefits that your customer will experience after they engage with you? How will their life be transformed? Explaining this helps your target market build a confidence in your offer because you can clearly express some kind of measurable or marked change.

People have small attention spans, when they’re evaluating options they are constantly scanning for information that they can instantly apply to their lives. They’re literally conducting gut level cost/benefit analysis to see whether or not they feel like you’ll be able to solve the problem they have. Too wordy, to theoretical, to much fluff makes it hard for them to picture how you can help their life in a real and meaningful way...or at least in a way that makes sense for them to trade their dollars for your potential value.

How to identify or clearly articulate your value proposition?

A few sentences followed by or supported by a few bullet points. That’s it. Crafting a decent value proposition starts with a brain dump of sorts and it happens in three acts.

Act 1. Listing out all the benefits of your offer.

The more specific the better. Are you making a process easier? How much time are you saving? How much money are you saving? Can you quantify the opportunity engaging with your offer brings to people? This can kind of be viewed as an exploration of the opportunity costs someone will incur by not interacting with you. Take time with this, you should feel exhausted by the end. Literally try to squeeze every direct and indirect benefit you can think of out of this list.

Act 2. Link the benefits to a value offer.

Now that you have an extensive list of how awesome your offer it is think about why people should care. Connect these benefits to the real problem that it solves in a way that makes it easy for your customer to almost imagine how better their life will be after having interacted with you.

Act 3. Differentiate.

Make who you’re talking to as clear as possible, what you’re offering and why you’re different. Why should someone trust you to solve their problem over the possible alternatives.

Weaving your value proposition into all the parts of your business?

You’ve taken the time to craft the perfect value proposition, now what? Since your value proposition is the foundation of your sales and marketing efforts it’s time to audit your copy and content. Do your blogs, landing pages, Facebook Ads, etc clearly reflect what you do and who you do it for? You just finished putting the work into identifying who your ideal customer is you know how they like to be communicated with, what interests them and what they care about. You’ll be able to craft graphics and longer form sales copy that really speaks to them. Not only that but all your content and copy can finally be focused on serving someone specific, not everyone.

It should also be reinforced everywhere you show up on line. Your value proposition is the shorthand for why people should engage with you. Having it everywhere online (all your social profiles for example) and aligning your actions with it will help people better connect with you and build credibility. It definitely helps shorten the whole know like and trust curve.


Taking your value proposition seriously is important if you plan on building a successful business. If you’re counting on really connecting with people then you need to give them something to hold on to that’s more than a catchphrase or a slogan. Your customers are also really busy, early on in the relationship you can’t expect a potential customer to take time out their day to really dig into who you are, what you do, and the content you produce. That’s a luxury that you earn by after you’ve convinced them that you’re worth investing in.

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few links to sites that have collected some great value propositions:

Growth Funnel -

Wordstream -

Hubspot -

Looking to Innovate or Figure Out What's Possible? Start Here.


It’s always awesome to listen to a physicist talk about not just what’s possible but what’s attainable when it comes to bringing new ideas to life. Vittorio Loreto definitely gives you a lot to think about and even though it’s through the lens of S.T.E.M. the concepts are absolutely applicable to business and entrepreneurial endeavors. 

With this post, I want to throw down the proverbial gauntlet and challenge you to experience this TED Talk and then apply its framework to what you’re building. Can you create value in a new and interesting way for the people that you serve by thinking about what’s adjacently possible?

Just in case you need a little more before investing 16 minutes of your time to grow here’s this TED Talk’s abstract:

“Where do great ideas come from?" Starting with this question in mind, Vittorio Loreto takes us on a journey to explore a possible mathematical scheme that explains the birth of the new. Learn more about the "adjacent possible" -- the crossroads of what's actual and what's possible -- and how studying the math that drives it could explain how we create new ideas.”


Build A More Compelling Value Proposition

What’s your business’ value proposition? Is it to be the “best” at something? Is it to serve your customers better than your competitors? Is it my favorite value proposition faux-pas, just an explanation of what you do that’s full of 3-Dollar business words like: maximum impact, advisory services, creating synergy, problem-solving, solution ideation, increasing efficiency and allocating resources efficiently?


Value propositions are supposed to appeal to the people that you are trying to serve that reaches them at their core. If your value proposition is good enough it will make it through all the noise and advertisements that your customers are bombarded with daily and sit right at the top of the feel good parts of their brain. That’s what a good value proposition does.

A value proposition is not just your mission (missions are super important for strategy to work though). It’s not a catchy tag-line. Well I mean, bad value propositions are. Bad value propositions talk about capabilities, features, and generic accolades.

When you use jargon and fuzzy words to convey your values (or just what you do) you are making it hard for your customers to engage with you. You aren’t pushing the buttons hard enough to move your customers in either a rational or an irrational way. Borrowing some concepts from the economics courses I teach; when you don’t do a good job of aligning what you offer with the tastes and expectations of your customers, you are making yourself substitutable.

Ahhh price elasticity of demand, you are a heartless but fair judge.

Customers are always measuring the value of something against the dollars they have to trade for that something. A good value proposition lets your customers know that they are getting their money’s worth. The real question behind a great value proposition is - How do you communicate the real benefits of what you do and why someone should do business with you?

A good starting point to framing your value proposition is to make a choice. You are choosing to either operate at the lowest possible cost or sell something for more. Sounds simple and probably a little cliche but there are some caveats here that most people don’t think about.

Let’s start with selling for more. When you charge a higher price you are communicating to your customers that you are offering a higher quality product. Your solution is more expensive because it solves your problem better than your competitors. The value you are providing when you are selling for more has to be measurable and meaningful to people. These are two traps you need to avoid to successfully charge higher prices:

1. Meaningless Differentiation.

You are charging a higher price for a reason right?! You need to do your best to make sure it’s a reason that matters to your customers. Seriously, charging a higher price because of some input that your customers don’t really care about or that doesn’t really affect them is not a good way to differentiate. It has to be customer focused!

2. Unsustainable Differentiation.

You have to do your best keep what makes you special for as long as possible. If people are working with you because they like what you are doing, your goal is to grow those connections as wide and as deep as you can. If your competitors start to imitate what you do you’ll risk losing your customer base to lower prices. When they buy from you make sure YOU are part of that value.

On to low cost. Competing for low cost producer is not my favorite way to build a business but in some models it works great. The value you are communicating to your customers here is that they get to have everything they want and keep more money in their pockets. Easiest example to think about is Wal-Mart. To have a successful value proposition in this space the value you communicate has to be extremely specific. There are some traps here too to watch out for as well:

1. Maintaining your lowest cost status.

As a small business or an entrepreneur there’s a lot of pressure to innovate. The problem is that lowest cost producer is a title that’s really hard to keep. Don’t fall into the trap of offering low prices with hopes of that you’ll steal market share away from your competitors and keep them. When you raise your prices, customers who are seeking for low cost will move on to the next lowest price points.

2. Substitutes.

When you enter the low cost/low price game you’re dealing with customers that are looking for the most bang for their buck. Think personal finance tracking apps for smartphones and tablets. There is a lot of competition and a lot of very close substitutes. It can be really challenging to communicate with customers about the value of what you offer when you are trying to scream over everyone else in your marketplace.

As you can see there’s no guarantee of success when it comes to choosing selling at higher prices or trying to compete as a low cost producer. Success comes from the heart of your value proposition. Your value proposition has to resonate with people so that they feel like buying from you matters, be different enough to stand out among your competitors and provide measurable substance.

When you are building your copy talk to people like people.