The value proposition is a statement that explains to members of your target audience why using your product or service would solve their problem or improve their situation. If other options are available to your target audience that meet the same need, the value proposition explains why your concept is better.
The value proposition helps you define the news product you are going to create, as well as explain it. For a startup to succeed, it can’t just meet your idea as a founder of its value – it has to provide something that your audience finds valuable to meet a need or make an improvement.
To craft a compelling value proposition – the next step in building your business model – you will have taken time to research the target audience your news will serve. Your knowledge and understanding of who they are and what they value in news will be essential. To find the information to build your value proposition, you must get that information from those you seek to to serve with your news coverage. In other words, market research described in an upcoming section, by talking to as many people as you can who are part of, or knowledgeable about, the audience your news organization plans to serve.
Our Value Proposition Builder Worksheet provides a framework for developing your value proposition. Here are some additional questions to help you assess the environment in which your business would exist. In the worksheet, you will have identified any alternatives your prospective customers have to the service you are envisioning.
- If there is an alternative that meets most needs, would partnering with that existing news source or organization allow you to fulfill the need without starting an organization from scratch?
- What is the funding landscape for initiatives such as yours? If projects like yours are not being funded, why not? What funding alternatives have you considered?
- Is the market of people who want this big enough or do you see a high enough level of need to support your operation or win funding for it? This is particularly important to estimate for local operations, which may not serve a large population. Some news organizations serve small, influential audiences that are valuable to sponsors and funders, but you’ll want to consider whether your target audience is large enough to support an independent news outlet. If not:
- Can you think through a value proposition in terms of partnerships? Might you fill an unmet need by providing specialized coverage to media, libraries or other organizations that share your goal to provide credible public information?
- Are there societal trends that support or challenge the long-term sustainability of your value proposition?