Here’s a question for business owners. Why do people come to your business over others?
- Maybe it’s what you do – is there nothing quite like your relaxing head massage?
- Maybe it’s your staff – should they be given an award for the World’s Greatest customer service?
- Perhaps your location is what makes your business different – a lake view with a beautiful patio?
- Do you offer free delivery while no one else does?
- Have you been family owned and operated for a century?
- Are your prices more competitive – are you the Walmart of your industry?
Truth be told, there are very few truly unique businesses – think of how many clothing retailers are in your town? Or how many electricians you know. What makes your business different is your Unique Selling Proposition – your differentiator from your competition. And you must have one. Otherwise your business is no different to another. There’s no incentive for people to come to your business vs another.
The problem is too many businesses make the mistake of attempting to be everything to everyone when they first start out, and this just simply isn’t possible. Having a USP is a key element in your marketing positioning and strategy.
What is your business’ USP?
For some businesses determining the USP is easy. (e.g. you’re cheaper that everyone else. Customer service is not as important for you, you know people come to you because you’re cheaper). However, for other businesses, it can be hard to know what it is about your business that keeps people coming in. But there are several ways to determine what your USP is.
Note: Don’t get too hung up on low price as a USP. Price is never the only reason people buy, so if you are not the cheapest option, find another feature that addresses the customers’ needs and build your sales and marketing strategy and messaging around that.
Use your target audience to determine your USP
Look at who your target audience is as this can provide answers as to where your USP lies. For example:
- A lower-end restaurant targets families for the casual atmosphere where kids can be kids. While that wouldn’t appeal to couples on a date-night, parents love knowing they won’t be judged if their kids are rowdy. That’s their USP.
- An electrician finds that he gets a lots of referrals from customers because of his no-call-out-charge. That’s his USP.
- A high-end furniture company sells very unique pieces. Their target market is corporate couples with no-children living at home. Many of their pieces are one-of-a-kind and create an atmosphere of style and sophistication that can’t be replicated by any one else. That’s their USP.
If you were a kid wouldn’t you want to eat here!
Ask your target audience
Ask customers why they come into your place of business, what’s their favourite feature and what they’d like to see changed. You could even ask them to rate the importance of the features to see how you can improve your service.
Look online for reviews
- Do you sell a “cheesecake that is to die for?”
- Did you know that “Cheyanne was the most amazing server we have ever had”?
- Perhaps “the sunset from the patio is the most beautiful I’ve ever experienced”
- Or even “I was so touched to see three generations of the family hard at work in the kitchen”.
Online reviews can give you a lot of insight into what it is that people just love about your business!
Do some deep soul searching
Think carefully about your business and put yourself in your customers shoes. Physically walk through your store, or have a meal at your restaurant, try to have an entirely unbiased experience of your business. As a business owner or entrepreneur, you love what you do or what you sell. Otherwise you wouldn’t do it. Sometimes it can be hard to see your business from someone else’s point of view.
What do I do once I’ve determined the USP?
Once you’ve decided what your business’ USP is, think about how to position it to your advantage in your marketing and advertising efforts that sets you apart from the competition. Take a peek at what your competitors are also doing, there’s no harm! But don’t copy them, that completely defeats the point of it being a Unique Selling Proposition!!
Think about these positioning statements from the 3 examples provided above.
A lower-end restaurant targets families for the casual atmosphere where kids can be kids.
- USP: Parents love knowing they won’t be judged if their kids are rowdy
- Messaging: “We sell uninterrupted family-time” [we don’t sell food]
An electrician gets a lots of referrals from happy customers:
- USP: He doesn’t charge a call-out-charge
- Messaging: “We provide peace of mind” [we don’t fix your electrical problems]
A high-end furniture company sells very unique pieces.
- USP: The pieces are one-of-a-kind and create an atmosphere of style and sophistication that can’t be replicated by any one else.
- Messaging: “We create unique, elegant moods” [we don’t sell furniture]
This is a well known brand with a simple USP, but it works:
The USP and associated messaging should become part of everything you do to sell your services and market your company. Ensure all communication with customers conveys the USP – brochures, business cards, adverts, social media pages. Once you start to dilute the USP (think about the kid-friendly restaurant that has servers that get upset with noisy, messy children), it loses its value. The strength of a Unique Selling Proposition comes from the fact that this is what your business needs to be known for in order to stay successful.
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