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Trial and Error: How We Developed Our Value Proposition

Original illustration by A. Malyavina

Recently I’ve told you the basic principles of a good value proposition. In this piece, I’ll tell you a real story of how our team developed theirs. The process was painful and took us two months.

We will build a system in your communications
We help companies become closer to people
Communications will become personal
Loyalty matters
Retention is far more important
We motivate to buy
For the clients to buy
Thinking about people, not campaigns
Delivering the best
We’ll retain and sell
Retain subscribers while attracting new ones
Just don’t let the client leave
We just won’t let them go
Don’t miss those who costed you dearly
Marketing in the context of your business

This is how we were creating our value proposition. We were thinking it over for two months and finally decided on this variant: “Email marketing without promising the Moon”.

the first screen of the main page of our web site

From “WHAT?” to “WHY?”

The formulating process was painful…

At first we concentrated on WHAT we were doing — everything that lies in the area of retention. The “Retention matters” variant sounds good in English, but in Russian it was… meh. Yet, it was the leader among the other ideas. As you can see, most of our ideas answered the question “what?”.

There also was another good idea — “marketing in the context of your business” that answered the question “HOW we work”. But not all members of the team really liked it — it was too complicated and it was hard to understand what it meant.

And then we understood one thing — we need to answer “WHY?” rather than “WHAT?”. Here we unanimously understood that we only had to formulate the phrase “good guys, not some assholes” using appropriate wording. This phrase has a backstory. When I got acquainted with EmailSoldiers I had some doubts about our further cooperation. Then my friend, who made this acquaintance real, encouraged me to work with the guys with this phrase: “come on, work with the guys, they’re good, not some assholes”. This is how our coworking began and it will be 5 years this 1st of July. Now I even have merch with this phrase:

lettering on the sleeve: “good guys, not some assholes

We couldn’t understand how to reformulate this phrase into something appropriate. But then I recalled three important moments that showed WHY you should work with us:

Firstly, one of our articles had such a sentence: “you can’t offer to build a space station to a client that only has a hen house”. When we published the article, several readers reacted to it.

Secondly, our colleague from Alphabank (one of Russian banks) once characterized us this way: “You know, such guys, that tell you: “It’s all great, you know, but let’s get back to reality””.

Thirdly, after signing the contract, one of our clients explained that they chose us because in the meeting we didn’t promise anything fantastic and gave only practical offers.

This is how we understood what we look like — down to earth guys who don’t give perfect promises. And it correlates to our own values.

The only thing that was left was to formulate it. One night, when the layout of the new main page was done already and was waiting for the formulated value proposition, our commercial director Ivan and I understood that we couldn’t hold out any longer, so we decided to stay at the office until we formulated it.

And like always when you think about something for a long time, comes epiphany: “Email marketing without promising the Moon”. We liked this phrase.

The most valuable thing in this formulation is that it reflects our values and correlates with how the people around see us at the same time.

By the way, here is a good talk by Simon Sinek “Start with ‘why’”:



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