If we took your current content and dropped it on a competitor’s website, could anyone tell the difference? If not, it’s time to work on your content value proposition.

A CVP is similar to its better known sibling, the unique value proposition (UVP). The idea is to apply the same rigor you applied to your core product or service to your branded content by developing a statement that describes how your content addresses your customer’s needs, and what distinguishes it from the competition. It’s the promise you’re making to your audience.

Here’s how you can sharpen the focus of your branded content by developing your own content value proposition.

5 Steps to Develop Your Content Value Proposition

  1. Identify your customer’s main problem.
  2. Reflect on your areas of expertise.
  3. Connect your expertise to your buyer’s problem.
  4. Spell out all the benefits your expertise offers.
  5. Differentiate yourself as a trusted adviser.

Identify Your Customer’s Main Problem

Creating great content starts with thinking from your customer’s perspective, not your own. Forget your sales goals, your brand and your jargon for a moment. Step back and think more broadly about the challenges that your buyer is facing across the board.

If your buyer works in enterprise HR, for example, they’ve spent much of the past year thinking about how to measure performance for remote teams, handle layoffs and furloughs without destroying morale, and protect people’s safety when they do have to return to the workforce, among many other things. Any insight and support you can provide around addressing those issues will be much appreciated, regardless of what your business is trying to sell them.

There’s no real substitute for developing relationships with your customers and prospects in which they tell you what’s on their mind, but if you’re looking for a decent shortcut, start reading industry trade publications. That can at least jolt you out of your tunnel vision.

Reflect on Your Areas of Expertise

To write a compelling content value proposition, you have to tease out what you and your team know better than anyone else. This might be the hardest part of refining your CVP because, when you’re deep in your expertise, it can be hard to recognize what is (and isn’t) common knowledge.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  • What do I know that most people don’t? If you have an advanced degree or years of experience in an industry or serving in a specific business function, it’s a safe bet that your knowledge on a topic is greater than the general population. List out the topics where that is likely. And don’t forget your hobbies and volunteer experiences. This list may wind up a lot longer than you think. (Hey, it’s pretty good for your self-esteem, too!)
  • What do I know that my customers don’t? Perspective comes into play here. Your customer may be your peer when it comes to knowing how things work in their role, function and organization, but you have a perch that allows you to spot patterns across multiple organizations. You just have to climb up and take advantage of it. The list is now getting shorter, but that’s a good thing. You don’t need to know everything about everything to be an expert.
  • What do I know that my competitors don’t? This is a place where your perspective works against you, and the help of a client or colleague can help you break through the noise. If your organization records sales and client calls, make time to review them closely. Listen for the moments when the client gets excited about something you just said. If you can listen to recordings, ask a colleague to sit in and observe your interactions and spot those “Aha!” moments.

Once you’ve worked through this exercise and found where your answers to these three questions intersect, there’s a good chance that we’re down to just 1-3 topics. Congratulations, we now know what you’re really an expert on.

Connect Your Expertise to Your Buyer’s Problems

Now that you’ve isolated your customer’s biggest problems and your areas of expertise, it’s time to connect the two to generate content ideas.

Remember: You aren’t limited to writing only about how your product or service solves their problem. In fact, I advise against it because it will be incredibly difficult for you to do so in a compelling way. Focus on process, advice and stories, instead.

Spell Out All the Benefits Your Expertise Offers

This part is often challenging even for established content brands, because it forces you to really think about the value you’re adding with your content. Here, I challenge you to answer two questions:

  • If someone were to read, watch or listen to this content, and really took it to heart, what impact would it have on their business? If it’s a tips or advice piece, what benefits would they see from following your guidance? If it’s a white paper or report, what would happen if they wholeheartedly adopted your perspective and implemented your framework in their organization?
  • What happens if they don’t? You’re competing for mindshare with other organizations, as well as the status quo. Assuming they ignore your advice, what are the likely consequences? Spell out the worst-case scenarios.

If the impact either way is inconsequential, so is your content and your content value proposition.

Differentiate Yourself as a Trusted Adviser

Finally, you have to sell yourself as being the best source of all this wisdom and knowledge.

Credentials can help, such as degrees, certifications or professional licenses. Lean on your unique professional experiences, too.

I intentionally leave this step last because too many people think their CV should be enough to establish their credibility. It’s not. It’s rarely enough to differentiate someone on its own, but it is an important part of your positioning for many people. Distill the most important parts into a powerful sentence that contains the most relevant elements of your education and experience.

Above all, don’t try to be everything to everyone. By failing to be specific, you aren’t expanding your reach; you just ensure your content won’t help anyone.