USP, Unique Selling Proposition

Is Your USP Compelling to Those Who Matter?

As business owners, we all recognize the need for uniqueness, something that makes us stand out from the crowd so we don’t simply compete on price.  While not always easy, it is important because your unique selling proposition dramatically improves your marketing results by accomplishing three things:

Unique – sets you apart from competition, makes you the logical choice

Selling – persuades someone to exchange money for your products or services

Proposition – offer or promise for acceptance by others

It should answer the question, Why customers choose us?  When I ask this of business owners, they typically start listing things like great service, open good hours, a range of choices, quality people, etc. Then I hit them with the following: Is this list based on your beliefs or a real understanding of your customers?

So before you start brainstorming ideas for a better value proposition, do a little research.

Think Like Your Customers

Many small business owners assume their customers are just like them – with the same values, beliefs, needs, problems, and motivators. Even when it is obvious that your ideal customers are different. It’s easy to fall back into the trap and apply your own beliefs.

You need to know what they think and why, so ask! What makes them come back? Is it service, convenience or reliability to name a few. What is it about your service that they love? Is it friendliness, knowledge, or maybe your willingness to help. Now for the million dollar question: Why is this important to them?

What Motivates Customer Buying Decisions. One of the biggest myths is that customers buy based on needs alone. If this were true, why would people buy a Mercedes when a Hyundai would fill the same need for transportation?

People may have a need before they consider buying, but actual buying decisions are emotional, based on desires and other motivators. Image, safety, savings, convenience are just a few that drive people to open their wallets or sign on the dotted line. So what motivates your customers to go beyond consideration and actually buy? Get your arms around this and your messages will attract more customers to your business.

Weigh the Competition

What options do your customers have when it comes to buying the products and services you sell. Why do they choose you? Sounds simple, but the answer to this question may shed a lot of light on your business that you can capitalize on, in marketing, sales and service delivery.

Today customers have far more choice. Technology has removed geographic boundaries, developed new distribution channels, made customization (or the appearance of it) more accessible, and created leverage opportunities for many small businesses.

But if you want to capitalize on the opportunities and create a compelling reason to get customers flocking to you, start by improving your customer knowledge.

There are a variety of ways to get information about your customers. The most obvious and effective way is to ASK them. Depending on your business, you can do this with face-to-face interviews, phone discussions, online surveys or small, informal focus groups (aka lunch). When customers know you ‘get it’ and really understand them, they gladly reward you with more business.

Bring Your USP To Life

Figuring out what makes you distinctive or better is certainly important. But the real power of your USP comes from the positive emotions it can arouse. To do so, you need to bring it to life and make it memorable. In other words, how do you capture the emotional gratification promised by your products or services – in a short phrase or a few words.

Think tagline. A tagline, often used with your logo, is a word or phrase that identifies and explains a company’s benefit to the customer in a meaningful way. An effective one will have a personality all its own and connect with the customer in some sort of emotional way that makes it memorable.

  • Keeping it short is a key – but here are a few other factors you should consider:
  • Focus on the promise (result or benefit) not the feature or work you offer
  • Keep it vague enough to leave room for imagination
  • Convey a positive feeling
  • Give it impact, emotion or passion
  • Be consistent with your customers’ perception of your business – your strengths
  • Avoid sounding like a commodity!

Now don’t get paralyzed as you work through this. Your USP may change over time as your business evolves and you gain an understanding of customer motivators. So what are you selling and how does your USP convey this?

More Ideas to Grow Your Business

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

mktg strategy target cust

Strategy Before Tactics For Business Success

As a business owner, do you feel like you are fighting an uphill battle and losing ground? Doing lots of stuff but getting nowhere fast? Then it’s time to put the brakes on and start working smarter.

We’re all familiar with the saying, ‘Can’t see the forest for the trees’ and this is true for many small business owners. Engrossed in the details and daily operations, owners often ignore or don’t see the big picture. Whether you are solving problems or developing your business, think strategy before tactics.

What’s the difference? In simplest terms, a strategy is a broad plan to achieve desired goals or results; typically longer-term or bigger picture. Tactics are the means, tasks or actions, to carry them out. They are what you implement or do.

According to Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”. While true in military terms, it’s equally true in business, especially when it comes to marketing. You have a lot of tactical choices. But if they don’t work together and support your strategy, you waste time and money.

So as you plan for this year, take the time to revisit your marketing strategy before you set up the tactics to get there. Don’t get concerned, it’s not complicated. A good marketing strategy simply requires two things. First, a narrow focus on your ideal customers. Second, some way to differentiate your business. Here is how you can approach this.

Define YOUR Ideal Customers

You can’t be all things to all people and most small businesses know this. They don’t intend to try to serve everyone but end up there over time. With a desire to grow, especially in tough times, it’s easy to lose focus and view everyone as ideal. Unfortunately, more customers and sales do not guarantee more profit.

Even as they grow and evolve, most businesses have an ideal customer segment. To get a good sense of your ideal target, follow these steps:

  • Make a list (10-20) of your most profitable customers or clients. These may or may not be customers with the highest sales.
  • From that list, identify those who have referred business to you. You definitely want more of these!
  • From the smaller list, identify common demographic characteristics. If you lack this information, do a little research or ask the customer.
  • Next, take a look at their behaviors. How do they buy, what do they buy, why do they buy? What are the challenges they face? What’s important to them? Not sure, ask.
  • Draw a detailed sketch of your ideal client – and use it in your marketing!
Differentiate YOUR Business

This is not a new concept but one that many small businesses don’t do. Making claims for great service or quality doesn’t differentiate you – unless you back it up with something specific.

Differentiation helps you stand out from competition but also reduces your need to compete on price. If ‘how much’ is the first question your prospects ask, then you likely have a vanilla brand. Here are some questions you can use to get to the specifics you need to set your business apart from others:

  • What made you decide to hire us or choose us?
  • What’s one thing we do better than others like us?
  • What’s one thing we could do better?
  • Would you or do you refer us to others? If yes, why or what would you say?

If at any time, the customer responds with something bland like ‘you provide great service’, dig a little deeper to get specifics. Try asking ‘What does good service look like?’ or ‘Tell me a story or a time when we provided good service.’

I have done this exercise with a lot of clients. Create a simple survey and start asking your customers relevant questions. It’s not only helpful but can be eye-opening. More important, it will help you uncover some specifics you can use to stand out. And isn’t that the key to attracting more profitable customers?

With a strong knowledge and understanding of your ideal customers and what sets you apart, you now have the foundation for your marketing strategy. Choosing the right tactics to reach your target and creating compelling messages for them is now easier. Most important, your marketing will deliver better results.

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

usp concept

How to Put Substance Behind Your USP – for Better Results

A strong USP can make a big difference in your marketing and on your bottom line.  While it differentiates you from your competition, it also insures you don’t compete on price alone – a key to more profitable sales.

Whether your USP is built around quality, convenience or something else, it’s more powerful when you put some substance behind your claims.  Here’s how a former client and business owner in Marlton, NJ used this strategy to build his reputation and profit.

Business Spotlight on Rhino Global Solutions

As a global source for packaging, printing and displays, Rhino Global Solutions has been providing consistent and dependable quality for companies seeking a production advantage overseas for more than a decade. According to owner, Jerry Smith here are some the keys to building a strong, compelling USP — and giving it the punch it needs to help you stand out.

Talk to Customers.  Understanding the real issues or concerns is a key to developing a strong positioning and USP.  Don’t assume it’s just one thing such as price, quality, service, etc.  It may be a combination.  In talking with prospects and customers, Jerry learned that most companies won’t sacrifice quality for savings – so his company had to deliver on multiple levels.

Look for Niche Markets.  Larger companies were utilizing overseas production and being served  by larger competitors.  But the small and mid-size market was under-served.  This gap offered opportunities for Rhino Global Solutions if they could overcome perceived risks and uncertainty relating to quality.  What gaps exist in your industry – and how can you fill them?

Build Systems to Support Your USP. Your USP is a promise to customers; it’s what they can expect when they do business with you.  So it can’t be left to chance.  Systems that are repeatable by others ensure consistent, reliable delivery – whether you are there or not.  As a plus, good systems ensure efficiency that contributes to the bottom line and allows for sustainable growth and profit.

Back Up Quality Claims.  Many businesses will claim quality excellence.  Did you ever hear one say they did not provide quality products or services?  So it’s not enough to claim it – you need to own it.  The best way to do this is to back up your claims with actions or measurements.  Rhino Global Solutions uses a Quality Assurance Program and Guarantee to put some power behind their claims.  Their program is built around four elements:  communication, job performance, supplier selection and reporting.

More Ways to Grow Your Business

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.