Copywriting: Value Proposition Lessons From Captain Obvious

When communicating with customers on your website, take a lesson from Captain Obvious; it’s better  to be clear than clever. Your value proposition is a written statement of your customer offering, and a promise of the unique benefit you deliver.

Comunicate your value proposition in a way that  cannot be misunderstood, no matter how obvious or childlike it may seem.

“You’ll never, ever hear anyone say, ‘It’s too easy to understand what your site is about,’” Peter Sandeen writes on the KISSmetrics Blog. “But if your site is even a bit confusing, your bounce rate will skyrocket.” Communicating what’s obvious to you–perhaps painfully so– is what will bring the right clients to you in droves.

To make your value proposition crystal clear think not about the features you  offer, but the problem you solve for users, and why they need to take action. Now.

“A clear value proposition makes you the best choice for prospects,” Sandeen says on It’s OK to be direct. Resist the temptation to confuse wordiness with intelligence. While a third grader might not buy your product, you’ve done a great job creating your value proposition if they can understand what you do. Remember, it’s not easy to be clear in writing.

Below are few examples of business that clearly spell out their value proposition while leaving zero room for confusion:

  • Yesware: Email for salespeople (a product I use and recommend)
  • Mixrank: Uncover any advertiser’s ads and traffic sources
  • Pagelever: Pagelever powers data-driven social marketing decisions

Any uncertainty as to what the companies above do? Didn’t think so?

Captain Obvious Strikes Again 300x225 Copywriting: Value Proposition Lessons From Captain ObviousI’ll readily admit that creating a clear, unmistakeable value proposition is a problem that resonates with me. As journalists we learn that a catchy headline is a powerful weapon to capture readers’ interest and get them to click on a story. It’s also a way to distinguish your story from other reporters covering the same event, and to stand out from other and posts on your site. Cleverness pays dividends in the news business.

Copywriting is a very specific form of writing, with very narrow purpose. Think of your website copy as your frontline sales team, to paraphrase Joanna Wiebe from Copyhackers a bit. Your product or service is much more than a few lines of text on a website, but this copy is the start of a relationship. Your customer is like the hottest girl or guy in school. There’s lots of competition, and on your first date you need to make a strong first impression to win him or her over. Be crystal clear in your value proposition, and show why you’re the one.


Learn how your story can change the world

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Let's Meet!

My Office Hours


  1. How To Make Journalists Fall In Love With Your Corporate Blog - July 17, 2013

    [...] Captain Obvious says: Update your blog regularly. Publish stories that show how you’re changing the world in big and small ways. [...]

  2. When Is Too Early For Startups To Begin The PR Process? - August 10, 2013

    […] the media. Starting the public relations process from Day 1 means identifying your public and key areas of differentiation that make you the right choice for prospects. Whether you’re past the MVP phase, or simple […]

Leave a Reply