Explaining your value proposition to investors is something we see very few founders get right from the first try. And that’s a problem, given that your value proposition is the centerpiece your whole investor pitch is built around. 

To sell investors your value proposition story, you must:

1. Have a strong value proposition before all else; 

2. Know how to deliver your value proposition in the pitch deck.

Based on numerous chats with our clients and prospects, nine out of ten founders need help in one or both aspects. This article will address both elements by explaining how to conjure up a powerful value proposition and reflect it in a winning value proposition slide. 

Let’s start with the basics.

What is a value proposition?

To address the common misconception, let’s start with what a value proposition is not:

  • Competitive moat: “All-in-one ecosystem and high switch cost due to personalized feature implementation, integrations, and continuous training on product usage.” (Hubspot)
  • Product features list: “Channels and threads, messaging, customizable workflows, search, automation, file sharing.” (Slack)
  • Tagline: “How work should work” (Upwork)

While all those things are linked to your value proposition, they aren’t interchangeable. 

A value proposition means the unique benefit or value your customers get from your offering that they can’t get elsewhere. That is, you do something faster, better, cheaper, or simply different—and your customers benefit from it. 

Here’s an example from Slack:

With all your people, tools, and communication in one place, you can work faster and more flexibly than ever before.
Slack

As you can see, your customer value proposition is why your customers buy your product over the competitors. It should lie at the heart of your sales, communication, marketing, and product development strategies.

How do you define your value proposition?

There are many frameworks that help to establish a value proposition for a business. Most share the same components, but because founders often have problems with this step, we decided to weigh in and share our two favorite value proposition creation frameworks along with some helpful tips. 

Note: don’t get too stringent about the following frameworks — rather, use them to leg up your ideation process.


Framework 1: Fill in the template

One of the easiest ways to create a value proposition fast is by completing the form below.

value proposition canva

Important: make sure that the statements you put in the form result from in-depth market research and understanding of your solution.

Framework 2: Value proposition canvas

This value proposition creation template is the “golden standard” developed to model the relationship between customer profiles and your offering. 

Customer profile:

  • Jobs-to-be-done: the task, need, or wish your customers are trying to accomplish or satisfy.
  • Pains: the difficulties, both emotional and functional, that customers experience while getting the job done.
  • Gains: the needs and expectations of your customers during their jobs to be done.

Value proposition:

  • Products or services that help your customers get their jobs done.
  • Pain relievers: the explanation of how exactly your offering will alleviate your customers’ pains.
  • Gain creators: the benefits your customers will get in the context of their jobs to be done from using your offering

Let’s use Slack to demonstrate what the answers might look like.

Slack value proposition
Slack value proposition

Pro tip: don’t assume the value your customers are (or will be) getting from using your solution—ask them to describe it in their own words. 

Find an unbiased target audience and run a simple questionnaire about your product, its benefits, value, etc. The answers will reveal whether your value matches your target audience’s expectations. If it doesn’t, you’ll know the direction you need to take to hit the spot for your customers.

And remember: your value proposition doesn’t have to be about the product. There are many ways to create value: an exceptional customer experience, a specific way of communication, better pricing options, convenience, etc. Some brands have made it to the top simply because their offerings make people feel special in some way. 

With this out of the way, let’s get down to the nuances of a powerful value proposition slide.

How to know if your value proposition hits the spot for the target audience?

There are two ways to know if the value is really there for your customers.

1. Quantitative analysis. This part entails gathering data on how your solution affects the outcome of using the product (e.g., sales team efficiency grew by x%, time savings by y%, etc.). You can do this by interviewing customers.

2. Qualitative analysis. This is an overall sanity check: general reviews, scores in app stores, NPS, etc. Pay special attention to the NPS – it’s a true-and-tried method to measure how much your customers appreciate your product. Here is how to calculate it:

NPS formula

The higher the NPS score, the better, with 20%+ being favorable and 50%+ excellent (according to Bain & Co).

How to create a value proposition slide investors will love?

Assuming you’ve verbalized a strong business value proposition. How do you show it in the deck? 

The key here is to communicate your value in a way that will convince investors that your customers experience / will experience clear benefits from your solution. 

Ultimately, there’s no cookie-cutter template for a value proposition slide. However, some rules apply across the board. 

Your value proposition slide must:

• Acknowledge the problems and pains felt by your target audience

• Display an understanding of their requirements

• Quantify the benefits and pain relievers of your product(s)/service(s) 

For example:

  • We are better because our algorithm is ten times faster than anyone else’s, so it’s a 10X time-saver for the customers;
  • Our product is three times cheaper than competitors but provides the same functionality and customer support, so customers will save money without sacrificing the quality.

In other words, you must demonstrate that you are solving an important problem for a specific set of customers. 

Common mistakes in a value proposition slide & how to avoid them

Too often, founders with a really great, sticky value proposition simply don’t use the right levers to convincingly deliver it to investors. Here are the common mistakes we encounter and how to avoid them.

Making groundless statements 

Empty statements don’t get funds. To prove to investors your unique business value is there, use data that supports it.

The data you choose to include will largely depend on your stage and the amount of traction you have. Mostly, it’ll be the same qualitative and/or quantitative data we mentioned in the third section about how to measure your value proposition:

  • Using numbers: 10X faster delivery, 2X more affordable, etc.
  • Proof of concept signals: user engagement, conversion rates, revenue
  • Smart competitive positioning, with your product vision, benchmarked against your competitors
  • Tangible positive outcomes your customers claim to experience from using your product or service, e.g., X% decrease in spending
  • Positive reviews and high scores on the app store, G2, etc.
  • Leading retention indicators unique to your solution

Using the same messaging with investors you use to attract customers

You know how important it is to keep your audience’s needs in mind when crafting your messaging, right? Well, pitching to investors is no different. Your narrative should be investor-attractive before anything else, so understanding their needs and goals and catering to them in your pitch is paramount. 

This problem is not exclusive to the value proposition slide. Many pitch decks we receive aren’t tied to investors’ needs whatsoever, with founders failing to put themselves in the VCs’ shoes. This tone-deafness massively weakens their overall argument. 

So be sure to keep investors’ key need—to get maximum returns— at the top of your mind when crafting your deck.  

List product features instead of benefits 

“Feature bragging” is by far the most favorite yet useless thing we see founders do in their pitch decks. Unless you describe features on your technology slide, simply listing features on your value proposition or competition slides won’t get you anywhere. In fact, it will only annoy investors.

What you should elaborate on is how these features will benefit your customers and secure you a solid competitive moat. Focus on that.

product features

Now let’s see how all the information above comes together in some juicy real-life value proposition slide examples Waveup created for our clients.

Best value proposition slides examples that raised VC

Here are some winning value proposition slide examples from startups in different industries. 

SalesTech

This example is from Zaplify’s pitch deck.

Value proposition slide

Why it works:

  • Every claim is supported with numbers, showing the quantified impact of the solution
  • A clear value statement based on the market gap
  • Illustrative, clear, and persuasive value proposition design that drives attention to the key points. The smart use of the famous Hubspot logo shows a relationship with a massive SalesTech giant and evokes trust

Healthcare 

The following value proposition slide is from a pitch deck for an online therapy startup.

value proposition slide

Why it works:

  • A strong header that points out the leading competitor’s weakness and serves as a quintessence of all the key value points below
  • Simple language that lays out the value of the offering in layman’s terms

NFT

This is a value proposition slide for a Web-3 startup that shows how to demonstrate value when targeting several customer groups.

value proposition slide

Why it works:

  • Powerful headline addressing the core value point
  • Clearly outlined benefits for each customer group
  • Simple, evocative language

Wrap-up thoughts

Crafting a powerful business value proposition can be a hell of a challenge; selling it to investors is even more so. You must be clear about your ideal customer persona, your levers over the competition, the unique benefits your customers are / will be getting from your offering, and have relevant data to back it up. 

But if you can do that while keeping investors’ needs in mind, “speaking their language,” and using persuasive reasoning, your value proposition slide is bound to succeed:

  • Test your value proposition to be sure it hits the spot with customers
  • List the benefits instead of the features 
  • Demonstrate positive traction signals or use research data that solidify your unique value proposition to investors
  • Leverage pitch deck design cheats to make the slide compelling

And if you feel overwhelmed by preparing a pitch deck that will sell your company to investors, just drop us a line, and Waveup experts will do the heavy lifting for you.

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Anna

Content Writer

Hi there! I’m Anya, a Content Writer at Waveup. I’ve been working with startups in various industries for over 4 years, soaking up the knowledge and learning from their business strategies. Now, I collaborate with the best minds here at Waveup to pick up their expertise and share it with the readers.