Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2004
“With 50 other companies selling the same products and services, why should I do business with you rather than one of your competitors?”
The number of competitors you face as an online merchant grows daily. If you can’t answer that one question, it’s only a matter of time before you go out of business.
If you can answer that question and answer it clearly, communicating it to your prospective customers in everything you do, your road to eCommerce success is paved with gold!
Your USP or Unique Selling Proposition answers that most critical question. If you have studied business for very long you’ve probably read or heard about the importance of having a strong, clear USP. However, it doesn’t take much surfing online to see that few companies listen. Most know that they need a USP, they just don’t know how to develop one.
The process of developing your Unique Selling Proposition is fairly simple (note that I didn’t say easy.) I conduct intensive on-site USP development workshops for my clients around the world. By doing these workshops I’ve discovered 4 critical steps to developing your USP.
First, study your competition. Search online for potential competitors. Pick the top 5 to 10 and try to determine their USP. Most will lack a clear USP, for these look for some of the features or services that they stress.
Now look for the gap in their products or services. What area of the market could we better service?
Second, examine you own business. Sit down and brainstorm with your staff possible USP concepts. Don’t judge the ideas, just write them down. To stimulate thought and ideas ask the following questions: What do we do the best? What do we do better than our competition? What awards have we won? What do our customers say about us? What praise do we often get from our customers? What celebrities or well know organizations endorse us? What endorsements could we get? What does our product or service do better than anyone else? What makes our business model different from our competition? How could we make it different? What market category or niche could our industry better service?
It also helps at this stage to interview and survey your current and past customers. Ask them why they bought from you rather than your competition? What do they want from a provider of your product or service? What’s important to them when making a buying decision? What feature or benefits do they value most or would like to see added to your product or service?
Third, begin to write down and crystallize your ideas. Don’t worry about length at first, just write down the key points of your USP concept. Focus on the benefits to your customer of each concept. Develop a list of 5 to 10 possible USPs.
Show this list to your staff, friends, family and current customers. Get their input and suggestions and use these suggestions and comments to narrow your USP concept down to a single main differentiating concept.
Once you’ve settled on the most unique and compelling feature of your product or business, begin to distill it down to one paragraph that clearly communicates and sums up why your customers should buy from you. Use this paragraph on your website or in your print marketing materials where you have more room to explain the unique benefits that you bring to your customers. However, it’s still too long to for an effective tag line or slogan.
You still need to distill your USP down to one or two focused sentences that clearly and concisely communicate the benefits of your USP to your customers. This statement should leave no question in your customers mind about what you do and what makes you different than your competition.
This USP statement will become your tagline or slogan. This process will take some time and your USP statement may require several revisions before you’re comfortable with the final draft.
Fourth, integrate your USP statement into everything you do. Put it on every page of your website, on your letterhead, in all of your advertising and marketing. Communicate it to your employees, managers and staff. Let it infuse into your corporate culture. Every time you talk to your customers, employees or suppliers you should mention this USP. You cannot just give lip service to your USP, you must live it and breath it! It must become a part of you.
Every product, business or service needs a USP that will make it stand out from the competition. It’s up to you to discover or create this element of uniqueness. Differentiate yourself, your business and your products from your competition and watch your profits soar!
Copyright 2004 Eric Graham
About the Author
Eric Graham is the CEO of several successful online companies. A top authority on eCommerce & Internet Marketing, he's an in-demand speaker & consultant. Visit (www.web-site-evaluations.com) for a FREE subscription to his eCommerce Mastery newsletter.