What is "X for Y" & how to define your value proposition

published on 10 December 2020

Help potential customers truly appreciate your value with this quippy, sticky marketing framework

Screen shot 2020 12 09 at 8.52.59 pm

☝️ via Silicon Valley Dictionary

X for Y!

  • WeWork for Quilting Studios
  • DoorDash for Dog Groomers
  • Fiverr for investment strategy

Technically these are analogies, and they are the startup world's favorite way to describe what a business does and what value they bring to the table. Why?

X for Y is concise.

Less is more! The X for Y framework necessarily forces you to boil your value proposition down into 3(!) words. It's hard to get much more concise while also conveying valuable information.

X for Y positions you in good company!

Who doesn't want to be compared to Uber, or Oprah, or Joe Rogan, or Etsy, or Airbnb! X for Y comparisons call to mind greatness. Associate yourself with people, products, and companies that your customers already love.

X for Y is easy to understand.

Most people have are at least vaguely familiar with Chipotle (and some of us are very familiar indeed) so saying "Chipotle for Poke Bowls" is pretty clear to most people who like poke bowls. X for Ys are a shortcut, quickly relating your product or service to an experience they already appreciate.

How not to use X for Y

Andrew Chen - who writes a really smart newsletter on, in his words "startups, growth, metrics, and network effects" - cautions against using broken metaphors. It's easy to say your study tool is like "Jillian Michaels for exam training" but the customer's first question will almost always be "like how?" and you should be prepared to back up your X for Y comparison with some actual similarities. Don't force it!

You can use X for Y for any product, service, or business.

Depending on your business model, it might require a little more creativity, but there is really no limit or rubric that you have to stick to when using the X for Y frame. In fact, it may help to look outside your own domain for good analogies. A service can be used to describe a product. A marketplace can be used to describe a service. Even a specific feature of a specific product, service, or marketplace can be used to describe a more novel and unique type of offering.

Have fun with it, but remember the goal is to articulate value. Sure it's even better if you manage to intrigue, impress, and inspire potential customers with a pithy X for Y, but at the end of the day people pay for value and that's what you most need to associate with your brand or business.

Let's hear it?

Want to brainstorm X for Y's for your business? Drop us a line here or book an (always free) growth marketing strategy session.

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