Why is your product or service different and better than your competitors’?
When you start a business, you have to look at the market. Who (your competitors) is already there and what do they offer? What do these brands stand for? Are customers able to distinguish one brand from the other? There are a lot of businesses that forget about this, but it’s imperative if you want to have a long lasting business. It goes right along with your branding and what a customer thinks of when they think of your business. So when you enter the market, position your brand in a way that it is better than your competitors and benefits your customers. In this post, I will touch on:
- Defining a Unique Selling Proposition.
- How to Check Out and Compare Your Competitors.
- Finding Out What Your Customers Really Want?
- How to Create a Unique Selling Proposition.
Unique selling proposition (USP) defined.
Maria Veloso said in her book Web Copy That Sells: The Revolutionary Formula for Creating Killer Copy That Grabs Their Attention and Compels Them to Buy (AMACON American Management Association; Third edition, 2013) that “A USP is something that sets you, your product or service, or your business apart from every other competitor in a favorable way”.
At the beginning of your business, I’m sure you want to offer all the products or services and be everything to everyone, but in actuality, you are nothing to no one. That’s why a unique selling proposition is so important. The more you are able to niche down on what you do, the more you will become something to someone.
After reading that definition above, start thinking about the companies you work with in your business, and you buy from in your personal life. Why do you use them? What sticks out in your mind about them?
A few brands with well-known unique selling propositions:
- Walmart – Cheap prices on groceries and everyday items. Even their slogans for the past thirty years refer to it. (1988 – 2007) “Always Low Prices, Always” (2007 – present) “Save Money. Live Better.” If you have ever shopped at Walmart, I’m sure you have noticed these slogans somewhere in the store.
- Amazon – Although it’s being considered more and more a competitor to Walmart, Amazon was first known and declared by themselves “Earth’s Biggest Bookstore”. This positioned them as the go to bookstore online (I still buy all my books from Amazon). Over the years that USP changed and in the eyes of consumers Amazon has become known for a few unique selling propositions including it being the biggest online store for any product, a place to check out customer reviews on products, and its Prime Free 2-day shipping.
- Subway – Everyone probably remembers Jared Fogle and how he lost over 200 pounds exercising and eating Subway sandwiches. It was a massive campaign in the 2000s, for both Jared and Subway and sales skyrocketed. The campaign stressed how Subway sandwiches were a low-calorie meal that can help you lose weight. Then Jared made some bad choices. Lately, Subway has been using the slogan “Eat Fresh” to get customers to choose their subs over its competitors. They are also putting more of an emphasis on using fresh ingredients and knowing what is in them and where they originated.
Now at the fundamental level, think about what your brand’s USP is? Why do customers buy from you instead of your competitors? What value do you offer them that is different than your competitors? Do your customers come back to purchase more from you?
Check out and compare your competitors
Entering a market with already established competitors can be tricky. They are already known, and customers may have already become accustomed to them. So start studying your competitors.
If they have a brick and mortar store, visit it. How is it set up? How do they greet their customers?
Check out their website, social media, and sign-up for their newsletter. Look at the messaging their brand is putting out – how is it different than yours?
Compared to your competitors – here are some questions to ask yourself and others in your business.
- Do we make our customers’ lives easier?
- Do we offer incredible customer service?
- Do we have affordable prices?
- Do we save customers time?
You need to differentiate your brand from your competitors, or there really won’t be a reason for customers to buy your solution to their problems.
What do your customers really want?
Earlier I mentioned that you need to think about your business’s unique selling proposition at the fundamental level. I’m sure you came up with a good idea of why you think your customers buy from you over your competitors. But do you really know for sure?
Remember it’s always about your customers, and solving a problem by providing a solution for them. What do your customers’ really want from your business? And how do you find out?
For businesses that sell products on Amazon, contact your buyers (make sure to adhere to Amazon’s guidelines on contacting customers) to ask for a review of your business (ask for a review of your product as well). If there were any problems they encountered, have them reply to your email, that way you can handle the problem for them without them giving you a bad review.
If you provide a service, offer a survey that asks your customers how you did. You can supply specific questions that address your unique selling proposition. You can also monitor reviews of your company online in places such as Facebook and social media, Google reviews, and Yelp. Make sure the reviews are from genuine clients and aren’t from fabricated online accounts. Then try to ask them why they left the review they left.
If you own a brick and mortar store or restaurant, personally ask or provide a survey for your customers, asking how you are doing but more importantly what they want.
Don’t forget! – it’s always about your customers
How to create a unique selling proposition
So you thought about your USP, you checked out your competition, and you asked your customers what they think. Now you should have a good idea of how to create a unique selling proposition for your business. If you don’t or you’re stuck, keep asking your customers.
Do some analysis and if necessary change your business model. If you sell ala carte services and your customers prefer package deals start offering a few package deals. Take some time to think about how you will present your unique selling proposition and the branding that will go along with it. Get creative!
After you have established your USP, declare it the solution to your customers’ problems.
There are a lot of similar businesses out there. Just think about how many mechanic shops you see in your city. How many heating and cooling and plumbing vans and trucks do you see on the road when you’re driving? Does their branding reveal their unique selling proposition? Is there a message of value in their branding? Probably not. It’s probably just their name and how many years they have been in business.
Don’t be like them, be remembered. Put some real time and effort into your unique selling proposition and stand out from your competitors!
Veloso, Maria. Web Copy That Sells: The Revolutionary Formula for Creating Killer Copy That Grabs Their Attention and Compels Them to Buy Third edition. AMACON American Management Association, 2013.