You can spend all of the money in the world promoting your product or service, although if it's not positioned properly you won't see optimal returns. Worse yet, you won't give your target market a clear reason to choose you over your competitors and sales just won't take off.
So, how can you avoid this? How can you make sure your product or service really stands out in a crowded market place? You focus on developing your USP and delivering whatever it is that your target market needs.
Here are a few thoughts on how you can go about this.
Explain Your Product Or Service Benefits, But Understand This Won't Be Enough
Clearly, the first thing you should consider are the features of your product or service - what it does, what packages consist of and tech specs, for example. It's a good idea to do this so that it's clear to your target audience what they are getting from you.
However, you should understand that this is never enough. All of your competitors wil be saying roughly the same thing, i.e all accounts for example will essentially deliver the same outcomes, or if you sell products from other manufacturers, the products will be identical. That's why it's so important to put a bit more effort in and really define your USP.
You can start to do this in the following ways.
Focus Your Customers Attention On You, The Business Owner
Now, something that your business has over every other business is you. You are the face behind the business, the inspiration, the person that customers need to have confidence in. Therefore, it can be a great idea to try and think about some of the following questions and see if you can incorporate them into your marketing message:
- Who are you? What would your customers find interesting about you?
- Why did you start your business?
- Did you start it after being an unsatisfied customer elsewhere?
- What are your professional goals?
- What are your goals outside of your business?
The idea here is that if you can manage to get across something about your self that potential customers can identify with, you'll be in a much stronger position to become their provider of choice. Plus, at the end of the day, people still by from people, so make sure you can connect as much as possible on this level.
Focus Your Customers Attention On Your Core Business Values/Ethics
Next, think about your business and what it offers. In the same way that you are unique, your business is too. You can take steps to align your business brand with strong values and ethics. There are many ways you could achieve this, although it might help to draw from things that are important to you. For example, your business could be:
- Focused on supporting homeless charities in your area
- Committed to supporting organisations involved in tackling climate change
- Dedicated to helping people raise money for a local hospital
You don't have to donate money to start with if you are a new business and don't think you can make that kind of commitment. To start with, you could provide services related to your business - for example, if you are a designer, you could help design flyers, or if you are a lawyer, you could help in that area. The key would be to offer genuine help and then work to blend that into your marketing message.
That way, your business brand becomes associated with help in the local area - local people should really warm to this.
Think About How The Market Place Looks From A Customers Point Of View
Another thing to think about when defining your USP is how your market place looks to your potential customers. Most industries and sectors have a clear stereotype about them. For example, when we think about the pay day loan sector or the legal sector, we have strong 'shared values' as to what these kinds of businesses - and people who work in them - are like.
Therefore, it pays to think about your sector from your customers point of view so you can begin to understand how to make your business stand out. It's best to think about the negative aspects so that you can address them and make yourself stand apart from such things.
For example, let's say your business is in the building trade. The first negative things most people may think about when looking at this sector include the words:
So, when thinking about your USP, you could try to place a strong emphasis on the reasons that mean you shouldn't be associated with words such as the above. (Just to be clear; I really like the building trade - some of my friends and family work in it and I know that the vast majority of people who work in it aren't like that!)
Tailor Your Marketing To Give Your Audience Exactly What They Want
Something else for you to consider would be to think about what your audience actually wants. For example, if you supply end of year accounting services, it might help to understand that people don't really want that service - they need it.
What they want is to have one more thing out of the way, a large burden off their shoulders or the piece of mind that their accounts are being done correctly. Therefore, when defining your USP, you could think about this type of idea and try to work it in. For example, your business could be a supportive business who:
- Offers a guaranteed 7 day turnaround to help with late submissions
- Gives priority to small business owners
- Guarantees a 'zero hassle, perfect filing or your money back' guarantee
In Sum - How Do You Define Your Unique Selling Proposition?
Defining your USP can make a huge difference in terms of your bottom line. Here are my top tips as to how you can start going about this:
- Make it personal - think about what you, the business owner, brings to the table
- Give your business an edge by associating goodwill in your local community with it
- Think about how your market place looks to your customers and then work out how you can set yourself apart
- Think about what your customer actually wants and tailor your marketing to meet it
Hopefully this has helped you figure out how you can define your USP - let me know your thoughts on Google+, Facebook or Twitter!
By Alan MacDougall