How Outdoor Brands Can Craft a Killer Value Proposition (4 Easy Steps)

The outdoor industry is growing at a record pace, and so are the number of brands.

As a result, it’s getting increasingly difficult for new brands to stand out from the pack.

A killer value proposition can help you raise your profile by making you stand out from competitors as an expert in your field – an authority on what matters to consumers and why they should buy from you instead of another brand.

This article will guide you through an easy 4-step process for crafting a killer value proposition, share 5 keys to follow so you stand out from the crowd, and show examples from top outdoor brands like Cotopaxi, Super Pacific, and The Conversation Alliance.

Let’s dive in!

Many Outdoor Brands Aren’t Immediately Giving People a Reason to Buy

Instead, when people land on their site they’re met with big blocks of text that no one reads. Or they have confusing messaging and taglines like “Find your adventure anywhere”.

In short, they’re not saying how customers can benefit from their brand or why they should make a purchase. They’re not saying anything at all.

“People are drawn to clarity and away from confusion.” – Donald Miller 

Your website is the first impression a potential customer will get about your brand. Think of it like a first date.

Your potential customers simply need to know that you have something they want and you can be trusted to deliver whatever that is.

The way you get people to buy from you instead of your competitors is by having a clear value proposition — what you promise to your customers that no one else in the market can provide.

Now, you’re probably wondering…

What Is a Value Proposition?

Your value proposition is:

  • a promise of value to be delivered
  • a short, clear statement about what you do and how it benefits your customers
  • the #1 thing that determines whether people will bother reading more about your product or hit the back button

Let’s break these down a bit further…

When you promise to deliver value, you’re expressing your brand’s core attitudes. You’re affirming the type of experience your customers want.

That’s why a value proposition shouldn’t be a jargon-filled statement of what your business does.

It should reflect your market research to answer the questions: What do your customers want? Why do they want it? And what’s going to make them choose you over your competitors?

A value proposition is customer-facing.

It should be among the first pieces of copy on your website and be written in your customers’ language — something that they can easily understand.

Your goal is to nab their attention and make them think, “Oh wow, yes, this is just what I’m looking for!” 

And of course, a value proposition should be enticing.

Remember, very few consumers are choosing brands based on price or availability alone.

They’re looking for benefits and solutions, not features and random details.

They may not even have words for what they seek.

Your job is to figure it out and craft a value proposition that deeply resonates with them. 

All that said, value propositions should not be super-long or complex. Keep it short and sweet.

Believe me, it’s worth taking the time to conduct customer research and refine it over time.

Get your value proposition right, and you’ll get a huge boost in conversions.

How to Write a Killer Value Proposition

Here’s my value proposition formula so you can sell more online:

1. Headline

Explain your best, attention-grabbing benefit in one short sentence. Think about your positioning here; what is your differentiator? If you can, reference a key pain point or obstacle. 

Bad example: The original folding kayak

Good example: Go from box to boat in 3 minutes

2. Sub-Headline

Explain what you do, for whom, and why it’s useful. Here’s where you can go a bit deeper about what makes your offer unique and different. Remember to keep the focus on your customers, not your brand. 

Bad example: Shop our kayaks

Good example: The world’s most portable kayak that’s durable, stable, and spacious enough for two

3. Social Proof

Help customers feel confident about their choice. In addition to testimonials, you can use boosters like social media proof and respected logos.

Bad example: #1 folding kayak

Good example: As seen on Shark Tank, Forbes, CNN, Wall Street Journal, and The Oprah Magazine

4. Visual

Show an image reinforcing your main message. Ideally, you illustrate the experience your customers have by including smiling, happy people in your photo.

Bad example: a stock picture of a kayak

Good example: a gorgeous photo of someone enjoying the river in a kayak

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5 Keys to a Killer Value Proposition

Great value propositions are more than a copy formula.

You can wordsmith anything to make it sound good, but customers can see right through an inauthentic or “fluffy” value proposition.

Follow this checklist to be sure that your value proposition is doing its job.

  1. Clarity! It’s easy to understand. Don’t break out the thesaurus or stuff lots of text in your value proposition. The fewer words, the better!
  2. It clearly states the benefits your customer will get from buying your products or services. Don’t beat around the bush with vague language. Give them something actionable, something that paints a better version of themselves.
  3. It explains how you’re different or better than your competitors offer. This can be implied; you don’t have to call out a specific competitor. One way to do this is to tap into the key objection your target customers have for your competitor. For example, if their products are hard-to-use but yours are user-friendly, play that up.
  4. It doesn’t rely on hype or fluff. Yes, you want to make your product sound great. But relying on advertising clichés and exaggerated language will only make you seem insincere and scammy. Avoid dramatic, magical claims (e.g. “amazing miracle product”), superlatives (“best”), and jargon that customers won’t understand (e.g. “anodized pole exterior”).
  5. It can be understood in 5 seconds. Website visitors spend only a few seconds deciding whether they want to stick around. Get to the point and reel them in!

If all major things are pretty much the same between you and your competitors, you can “boost” your value proposition with small value-adds.

Here are some examples:

  • Free shipping
  • Free bonus with purchase
  • Easy returns
  • No long-term contract, cancel anytime
  • Money-back guarantee

Now, let’s put it all together…

3 Value Proposition Examples Before and After Optimization

Study these to learn how you can optimize your own value proposition and get people to buy from you instead of your competitors.

1. Super Pacific

Park Your Car and Set Up Camp in Just 60 Seconds – Meet the hardshell rooftop tent that’s durable, spacious, and built for any adventure.

Take a look at the before image. It’s just a menu, a hero image, and a call-to-action in the upper right corner.

Why should anyone click on that CTA? It’s unclear what’s even being sold.

If customers don’t know what you offer within the first five seconds, they’re going to hit the back button.

Images are powerful, but words can help clear up any confusion about what exactly it is you’re selling.

With the new text added, the visitor immediately understands the value being proposed.

Notice that the headline not only expresses a benefit but also a key pain point: it takes a long time to set up camp.

The subhead gives a few more details and selling points: it’s a rooftop tent that will survive the elements.

Best of all, any adventurer can take advantage of it.

Now you have FOMO, don’t you?

You’re going to click that CTA (which is now within the F-pattern of the page rather than floating in the upper right).

2. Oru Kayak

Go From Box to Boat in 3 Minutes – The world’s most portable kayak that’s durable, stable, and spacious enough for two.

Oru Kayak’s original hero image and headline aren’t bad.

When you’re first to market with an innovative product, being “the original” can be a differentiator early on.

But then it quickly fades as others flood the market.

Will customers really care if you were the first to create a product?

Doubtful.

Instead, focus on the end-benefit for your customer.

The optimized image clearly explains why origami kayaks are awesome: you can get onto the water in just a few minutes.

The image illustrates this by showing the kayak both collapsed and expanded. And you can clearly see the people, which adds that engaging human element.

3. The Conservation Alliance

Help Protect the Wild Places That Benefit Your Outdoor Recreation – Join more than 250 outdoor businesses that have helped save 73 million acres of wildlands, protect 3,576 miles of rivers, and stop or remove 36 dams

There are lots of reasons to not use rotating banners or header image carousels, but the main one is that your value proposition literally gets lost in the shuffle.

When you use rotating banners where your value proposition should go, most visitors will scroll right past them.

Are most people who visit this website going to be seeking employment with the Conversation Alliance? Unlikely.

This is your website’s prime real estate — don’t let it go to waste.

Use this highly valuable space to drive business outcomes, such as generating new members that further your cause.

In the optimized value proposition, the headline immediately taps in the visitors’ charitable side.

Then it offers some impressive, hard numbers that illustrate the impact of becoming a member.

The hero image works well too because it reinforces the main message of protecting the wild places where you recreate.

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope this marketing tip gave you some ideas for your own outdoor brand.

If you found it useful, please share it with your friends so we can all grow our impact and build a better future for our planet.   🙂 

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See you out there!

Jason Garcia - Founder, New Oceans

-Jason Garcia

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