To be successful in business you don’t have to be the best, you just have to be unique.
All entrepreneurs should understand this concept. No exceptions.
What do all of these slogans have in common?
Melts in your mouth, not in your hands
Better by Design
When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.
Pizza Fresh, hot pizza in 30 minutes or less
They are powerful statements of uniqueness that helped to propel their respective companies to success.
Minstrels promised no messy fingers; BMW positioned themselves as the best-designed cars;
Federal Express based their slogan on a promise of delivery reliability;
Domino’s based their slogan on the fact that most pizza eaters don’t care how much stuff is on it but that it was hot, fresh, and delivered fast.
It’s what makes you so unique that people will choose to do business with you over any of your competitors.
Your Unique Selling Proposition
Each of these slogans is their respective company’s unique selling proposition (USP).
A USP is something that differentiates you from all your competitors.
It’s what makes you so unique that people will choose to do business with you over any of your competitors. Your USP states your distinct advantage.
Get this right and it solves any problems in business. However, one of the biggest and most serious mistakes that many small businesses make is not being unique – and, even more importantly, not being seen to be unique.
Here are some recent answers I’ve been given by businesses when I asked them what made them unique:
“We offer better service”
“We’re very well known”
“We go the extra mile to be truly professional”
These are rubbish answers.
If you can’t enunciate in real, tangible, practical ways, why you are different then you are destined to always be middle of the road. I can’t emphasise this enough. Now more than ever you must differentiate your small business IF you want to achieve big success.
When a consumer thinks of buying a product in your industry, your name must be the first one that pops into their head – and a well-articulated USP can put it there, especially if it creates a real and perceived advantage in your prospect’s mind.
Explosion of Consumer Choice
Today there is an explosion of choices for consumers.
When this happens the competitive landscape gets tougher and choices for consumers gets more difficult. To thrive in these circumstances you have to be seen to be different.
Your USP is what states to the world why you are different – to be successful in business you don’t have to be the best, you just have to be unique.
Identifying, developing, and incorporating your USP into everything you do is challenging, I know that. But the reward is worth every effort.
It will differentiate you, distinguish you, and give you an advantage over everyone else in your marketplace.
The fact is, ‘me too’ businesses rarely flourish. Sure, they survive and bumble along but they never achieve big success. If all you’ve got that’s different is a better price then life will always be tough.
Businesses with no genuine real uniqueness usually end up in price wars because they don’t have a USP to establish value in the minds of their prospective customers. They are left with only one weapon with which to compete, price. And unless you have a significant cost advantage over your other small business competitors, you will lose. That’s why this is worth spending time and effort on and getting it right.
Make your USP Crystal Clear
The more clearly you announce your USP, the more often customers will choose you over your competition. You must use your USP to dominate your local market.
It’s no good having a USP and then not shouting about it. (I’ve done that a few times myself in the past – not smart!) When a consumer thinks of buying a product in your industry, your name must be the first one that pops into their head – and a well-articulated USP can put it there, especially if it creates real and perceived advantage in your prospect’s mind. I think the best example of this was Domino’s. Sure it was a few years ago now, but the learning is as valid as ever. Fact is, Domino’s made a very bold guarantee that if they didn’t deliver your pizza within 30 minutes of ordering, it would be free of charge. They put their USP into action. Can you do the same? If you can – and do – it could totally transform your business.
Be Specific! How many small businesses do you hear saying, ‘The Best Selection in Town’ or ‘Service with a Smile.’ I have to tell you that these phrases are worn-out, tired renditions of a ‘me too’ business. You have to be specific with your USP.
Domino’s stated that your pizza would be, (1) fresh, (2) hot, and (3) delivered within 30 minutes. That is specific and measurable. It’s beautiful. I challenge you to do as well.
How to Identify and Develop your USP
You shouldn’t rush or hurry the decision of your USP.
You will spend thousands of pounds on advertising and promoting your USP so it’s important to get it right.
If your USP is a promise or guarantee then you must make sure that you can fulfill on that promise. To get a pizza to anyone’s house in their marketplace within 30 minutes was sometimes a difficult feat to consistently accomplish. But the rewards were fantastic. Did they give away some free pizza because they failed to make the deadline? Sure, but not enough to trouble their profit uplift brought about by their wonderfully clear market positioning.
How do you pick a USP?
Well, my advice is that the best place to start is to first identify which needs are going unfulfilled within either your industry or your local market. I call these ‘performance gaps.’
Many businesses that base their USP on industry performance gaps are successful. Here are some examples in different small business industries:
Example 1 – Car Repairs Problem – Performance Gap = Garages have a reputation of being dishonest. Solution – Potential USP = ‘If It Ain’t Broke, We Won’t Fix It!
Example 2 – Dentists Problem – Performance Gap = No one likes to go to the dentist because it’s such a painful experience. Solution – Potential USP = ‘Sedation Dentistry, The Safe, Pain Free Way to Healthy Teeth’ You could also have local performance gaps that will give you a great USP as well.
For instance, I was in Dallas, Texas recently and I saw this on a billboard: ‘We have 10 times the selection than any store in town. Go visit the rest, then come shop at the best.’ It was advertising an electronics store and it articulates a really clear USP.
Your USP Doesn’t Have to be Unique Now, this might sound strange – but it’s not. Although a USP is a statement of your uniqueness it doesn’t always have to be something that is only unique to you… if you claim it first!
For instance, if you were a furniture retailer and you proclaimed your USP to be ‘Buy today, we’ll deliver it tonight.’ Most other competitors could do that too, but because you were the first to proclaim it, it is yours exclusively – providing you shout loudly enough about it. This is sometimes called ‘pre-emptive marketing.’ You can pre-empt your competitors if you take a strong benefit, whether or not it’s unique, and put your stamp on it first. All others who come after you will just be strengthening an advantage that you have already placed in the minds of your prospects.
Live up to your USP Be bold when developing your USP but be careful to ensure that you can live up to it. Having a USP that you can’t live up to is suicide. Domino’s had to eat the cost of a lot of pizzas when they didn’t arrive within 30 minutes, but they developed a system that allowed them to deliver on their promise consistently. Integrate your USP into everything you do Once you have put some careful thought to your USP and have developed it, you need to integrate it into everything you do.
Your USP should be found somewhere in your headlines, on your website, body copy of ads, direct-mail, and yellow pages. You should include it in your sales presentation, on the walls of your business and even on your business card. You can’t over do or wear out your USP …especially if it’s powerful.
The first place to start is your Website!
One of the first interactions your prospects will have with you is through your website. How’s it looking? Does it get across how you’re different from your competitors? Does it stand out?
The first place to start is the home page of your website. This is the one page you have to get spot on.
For my free guide and template on how to make your website home page stand out from your competitors download The Homepage Template to help you get this right.