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These days—especially with all the competition on the Web—if you want people to buy from you instead of the other guy, you’d better give ’em a darn good reason to do so. Otherwise they probably won’t.
And saying you have "great customer service" isn’t going to do the trick. Everyone says that, and so few deliver on it, that this little promise has lost its luster.
Convenience is a possibility. But you better make sure you really are more convenient than your competition.
Ditto experience. While experience is never bad, chances are your competition has plenty of it, too. So unless you have specific expertise, this may not convince people to buy from you either.
You could try to be the cheapest. But there’s probably someone on the Internet who can beat your prices. So this can be a slippery slope straight into a money-losing pit.
That’s why the best way to convince people to buy from you is to offer something people can get only if they purchase from you. Marketers refer to this as your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP.
How Do You Identify a Killer USP?
Unless you own a franchise, chances are good there’s something unique about your business, products, services, methods or results because you are unique. So, often your USP is staring you right in the face.
Try asking yourself these questions:
- "Why should someone buy from me instead of my competition?"
- "What is different—or better—about my products, services, business, methods, or the results I deliver?"
If you have a particular specialty (for example, my chiropractor specializes in triathletes), your USP may be easy to hone in on. However, you can also create a killer USP out of thin air.
When Domino’s Pizza launched "30 minutes or it’s free," they revolutionized pizza delivery! Back then, 45 minutes to an hour was standard. Instead of focusing on taste or quality, they created a guarantee that set them apart—and appealed to their target market.
Unfortunately, for many entrepreneurs finding a solid USP can seem like an impossible task. Usually because you’re so close to your business, you can’t see the forest for the trees.
That means it’s time to study the forest.
In other words, you need to spend some time looking at your competition. Because it’s impossible to know what makes you unique when you don’t know what anyone else is offering.
Five Steps to Defining a Simple Yet Powerful USP
Create an Excel spreadsheet with these columns: Business Name; Website; Location; Services/Products offered; Pricing; Target Market; USP, Specialty; Unique features or benefits; Other Marketing/Advertising; Special Offers. You can do this with paper and pen, but it’s easier to copy and past info directly into your spreadsheet as you go.
Review the Websites of at least 5-10 of your top competitors. Fill out the spreadsheet for each. If your competition advertises in any print publications take a look at those as well. Ditto for the phone book (yes, some people do still use them). Now do the same for your own business.
Review the data and look for areas where you offer something different or better. Or, have a niche market you can focus on. Ask yourself, “Are their ways I could fill a gap in the marketplace, or solve a problem my competition isn’t addressing?” Make a list of everything you do, or could do, that’s different.
Step # 4:
Ask yourself which differences or unique benefits are most likely to matter to your ideal client, and why? Remember, a USP is only effective if it’s something your target market actually wants or cares about.
Test it out. Take your top 2-3 USP options and survey your current customers (or people in your target market) to see which appeals to them most.
Once you have a winner, communicate it in every piece of branding, marketing and advertising you have. Before you know it, you’ll be known for whatever it is that makes you unique—and people will be waiting in line to hire you.