Internet Marketing Strategy: Do You Have A Tagline Or A Proposition?

Last week, in my monthly guest post on the Search Engine People blog, I provided the backdrop for taglines vs. propositions and made the point that, with the decline of interruption media and the rise of relevant media, the ‘Just Do It’ tagline era is over as you lose in internet marketing by being vague.

In this post, I’ll share how to find out what you’ve got and steps you can take to improve it and, subsequently, your online marketing performance.

Why Is A Value Prop So Damn Important?

Call it what you want: Unique Selling Propositions or Value Propositions. I think they call them props because they prop up an old business to keep it from falling down or, when done really right, they pull a business forward, increasing its speed to help it fly.

Value Proposition Definition Analogy

Whether it’s an email subject line, your Pay-Per-Click ads or the landing page, if you don’t have a good prop, your internet marketing is just going to fall down or just sit there.

How To Build A Strong Value Proposition

Here’s 6 steps to get you on the path of righteousness.

1. Which Do You Have?

In our Branding Strategy process we have a simple test that works  to determine whether you have a generic tagline or a unique value proposition: take one of your ads or a landing page, swap your competitors name for your own. Does it still work? Then you’ve got either:

a) a generic tagline

Generic tagline



or b) a weak proposition.

Poor Value Proposition Example





While admittedly, the optometrist conveys some sense of trust, it feels like there’s lots of folks who could say the same thing. What you’re striving for is c) something unique, relevant and wonderfully compelling.

Good Value Proposition Example





2. Fixing It

Time to drive at the truth and ask the tough questions.

  • Why would someone buy from you vs. a competitor?
  • What is that makes your business irresistible?
  • Or remarkable? As in, what other people remark on when they talk about you?
  • Make sure it’s who you are. Not who you’d like to be when you grow up.
  • Make sure you’re solving a real problem. One that you can prove exists. Not one made up in the boardroom. Here’s how:

3. Do Your Homework

Use keyword research and social media monitoring and traditional market research to understand what people want. What are the key needs – rational, emotional or both – that drive purchase in the category? Match these against what makes your business remarkable and your key message will emerge along with how to say it using words people use and search engines find.

4. What If I Can’t Come Up With Anything?

Relax. A study from Marketing Experiments found that 86% of businesses have weak value propositions. So you’re not alone. And it’s not like all those businesses are keeling over. It just means that their internet marketing strategy isn’t optimized and you have work to do (good for job security, no?).

So if you don’t have anything to say, try saying something. List out 3-5 things that alone may not make you unique but, together, add up to a compelling value proposition then…

5. Refine, Refine, Rinse & Repeat

In my experience it usually takes three years of testing & refining to land on a really strong value proposition. I’d like to tell you different but, whoop, there it is. But you’re like a wolf circling its prey. Narrowing it down. Making it more dangerous along the way.

Wile E Coyote Hunting

Thankfully God/Google has blessed us by giving us the tools in this era to test & refine. AdWord tests, A/B split email sends, Website Optimizer: all are great for improving the performance of your value prop and finding out which dog hunts.

6. Make Sure The Chapters Match

While you’re testing don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re telling a story and, like any good story, the chapters should match or else you risk losing the reader. So if you’re testing out different propositions using AdWords make sure the same proposition is repeated on the landing page. Linda Bustos of GetElastic has an intelligent yet simple way of approaching this in her post on the subject.


Hope this helps the cause.


Bob Nunn is an award winning internet marketing consultant based in Toronto passionate about building brands by tuning-up their online marketing. Does your internet marketing need a tune-up? Contact us to learn how our 11-point diagnostic can create a roadmap to build your brand online.


  • Krishan says:

    excellent ! Really loved the approach given to improve the value proposition matrix. It’s no marketing if you are just going for a punchline for being lovely.
    You need to have a strong backing in terms of value you provide.

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