Latest posts by Mitchell Harper (see all)
- 5 Ways to Build Your Business without Competing on Price - May 8, 2010
- What’s Your Unique Selling Point? - December 17, 2009
Let me start by asking you a question: “Why should I buy what you sell, from you, when I can buy it from one of your competitors? What is your unique selling point? ”
Yes this question sounds a little harsh, but it runs through the head of every potential customer who is about to buy from you. Your answer to this should be your USP, or unique selling point – the one thing that makes you different (and hopefully better) than your competitors.
If you sell a commoditized product such as apparel, food or services, then your USP should be based around how you deliver your product. For example, Zappos.com sells shoes but their USP is customer service. We sell software that helps small businesses sell online at BigCommerce.com and our USP is ease-of-use. I could go on with examples all day, but I’m sure you get the point.
So what’s the best way to find your USP if you don’t already have one? Well, what’s the main reason customers buy from you?
- Is it price?
- Fast or free shipping?
- Excellent pre- or post-sales service?
If you’re unsure then the best way to find out is to ask.
You could use a tool such as PollDaddy.com to setup a free poll on your website and ask customers why they buy from you, or if you want immediate feedback you could send a survey via email using SurveyMonkey.com. Just create a multiple choice question titled “What’s the main reason you chose to buy from us?”. Create answers for all of the reasons you think customers buy from you, and then make sure you add the “Other” option. So, you might have something like this:
What’s the main reason you chose to buy from us?
- Low prices
- Fast shipping
- Free shipping
- Customer service
- Our 200-day return guarantee
- Other (please specify below)
If you email the survey to a few dozen customers you’ll usually have your answer within 2-3 days. You can use the answer to craft your USP and that can then become your company’s tag line. For example, if 85% of customers said they bought from you because of your liberal return guarantee (let’s pretend you offer a 200-day return-for-any-reason guarantee), that becomes your USP and should also become your tag line, such as “The widest selection of shoes, backed by our 200-day return guarantee!”.
To get real insight into why customers buy from you, you might also ask for their email address or phone number so you can follow up with them. It’s amazing what you can learn from a 5-minute call. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: do you think they’ve *ever* been asked for their opinion on something they’ve purchased? My guess is no, so they’ll appreciate the opportunity to speak with you, plus you’ll get even more feedback to help shape your USP.
Finally, you can use your USP to position your company against competitors. Remember, at face value your business probably doesn’t look that much different to your competitors, so you need a strong USP that shouts to potential customers “Hey, here’s why we’re better!!!”. If you look at your closest competitors I bet they don’t offer potential customers a USP, so the opportunity is there for you to easily win more business.
The one thing you have to remember is to always (always) deliver on your USP. You want to become well known for your USP and if you do anything and everything you can to make sure you and your staff members deliver on it, you’ll be amazed at the amount of referral business that will come your way.