Owning a business in the Internet age means that you enjoy being on the same footing as all of the big businesses out there. It’s “the great leveler.” But it also means more competition from people just like you.
So how do you differentiate? What can you do that sets you apart from the crowd?
Develop a USP — a Unique Selling Proposition. What is a USP? It’s a statement that clearly identifies who you are, what you do, and how you’re different. And without realizing it, you’ve been exposed to most company’s USP through their advertising because the USP quite often comes out in the company’s slogan.
Here are some examples.
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car says “we’ll pick you up.” Even though nearly every other car rental company picks people up, Enterprise has worked hard to highlight that as one of the key differences in service they offer.
- Meanwhile, their competition — Avis — says “We try harder.” Avis recognizes that they’re not number one. But their USP says that they’ve got the hustle to make sure customers are served.
- A popular online marketer is The Rich Jerk. His e-book and affiliate program have a lot of the same information as many others out there. But his USP is that he’s shamelessly wealthy and obnoxious. And that seems to make him even more popular!
- Wal-Mart offers low prices, everyday.
As you can see from some of the above examples, it doesn’t have to be original… it just simply needs to set you apart from everyone else. Think about the places you shop. Why do you go there? There could be a variety of reasons, including price, convenience, and service. How often do you suppose that those are factors in a company’s USP?
How do you make a USP?
- Know your customers. Drill-down your niche to know exactly what they’re looking for, what they love and hate, and how they spend their money. An understanding of your customers needs to come first. If you’re offering rapid turnaround times on your product but your customer base has all the time in the world, your USP is powerless. However, if you can correctly identify what your clients are looking for and you offer it to them, you’ll find that you end up with happier customers because they’re getting from you what they can’t get anywhere else.
- Know your competition. Figure out what they’re offering. Remember that the tighter the niche you sell to, the fewer competitors you have. Take advantage of that fact by identifying a very narrow group of people to sell to. You’ll eliminate most of your competition that way!
- Know yourself. Know what you can and cannot do. Figure out if there’s something you can do that your competition cannot. For example, can you provide overnight delivery while others do not? The extra expense you pay in delivery fees may be worth it when you get more customers who need your product sooner. Can you provide a customized version of the product you and your competition are selling? It could take a few extra minutes with each purchase, but the extra expense may be worthwhile when extra customers want something that fits them exactly.
A Unique Selling Proposition is nothing more than the thing that makes you a little different than everyone else. If you can identify it and leverage it, you’ll notice a difference in your customer base, your customer’s satisfaction, and your bottom line.