What is a Value Proposition?

In 2007, at my first Metro DC ATD (formerly ASTD) Chapter board meeting, the president of the chapter asked everyone what our value proposition was? I had volunteered for the role of Director of Membership because I never received my username and password for the site and I was determined to fix my own problem. I ended up becoming the chapter’s first Director of Technology. As I sat in the meeting, I said to myself, what in the world is a value proposition?

Multiple Definitions

I promptly came home and looked up the term. The definition wasn’t totally clear to me. But it turns out that over the years I was hearing and reading different definitions. It turns out that it wasn’t me with the problem, it was the many definitions that existed. Just recently I feel that I got the best definition.

Value Proposition Defined

Value Proposition as defined in the Value Proposition Design book by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda, and Alan Smith –

“Describes the benefits customers can expect from your products and services.”

Its as simple as that. The benefits are derived from analyzing the customer’s jobs, pains, and gains. These are then mapped to the Gain Creators, Pain Relievers, and Products and Services using the Value (Proposition) Map and Customer (Segment) Profile that compose the Value Proposition Canvas.

A Clearer View

There were other sources that led me to this definition. One being the Business Model Generation book. I will write about that later, but the main thing is that one of the nine items on the Business Model Canvas is the Value Proposition. When I read the Business Model Canvas book and found out about the Value Proposition Design book, I thought that you had to work on that value proposition first before the Business Model Canvas. And boy in my opinion I am right. 🙂 I still have a lot to learn in this area and I am so glad that I found these books and the resources that support it. They make a topic which is apparently not totally clear to a lot of people very clear and accessible. Over time, as I learn more, I will provide examples of value propositions.


Check out the resources below to find additional information on Value Propositions.



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