By Roderic Michelson, Aralex Consulting Ltd
Everyone looks and sounds the same. So if you want to stand out you have to differentiate yourself.
This applies whether you’re spending £40 a month on promoting yourself at a networking meeting, or £4m a month on cross media marketing campaigns. Unless you have a distinctive voice you will not be remembered and your customers will have no reason to choose you over the competition.
It sounds simple – and obvious. But very few companies do it properly.
To have a unique voice you must position yourself as the best choice for a particular segment of the market through a Unique Selling Proposition or USP. This is a succinct phrase that relates the most desired outcome your prospective client wants.
For example, if everyone else is pushing how lightweight their product is, then make yours stand out on styling, or, if they are all selling style, highlight how yours can be personalised. Choose something that is different. But beware – if that difference doesn’t speak to your customers then you still won’t stand out.
You will significantly improve the marketability of your product or service by addressing a recognised need or pain point for the customer. This achieves two goals with the same effort: it builds sales, and your long-term reputation. It infuses with meaning every single marketing vehicle - internet collateral, telephone scripts, business cards, ads, flyers, etc. A USP helps you pre-open customers’ wallets.
Your USP is the distilled essence of what you are offering. Make it sound fast, easy and low-risk. Your USP should be so compelling that it can be written on a board in front of your shop, if you had one, and can be quoted when meeting potential customers.
How to create a USP
For example, here is how to create a USP for a slimming herbal tea…
Step 1: Write down the list of benefits that your product/service offers, including price, technical excellence, taste, specialism and exclusivity. Think about the end result that your customer wants from such a product. The best way is to pair each feature of your product with the benefit it brings.
The new Slim Pam is a great tasting product. Is that enough? No. Let’s dig deeper. It is 100% natural and organic; acts fast, as part of a balanced diet but no dieting is required while taking the product; uses roses from the famous Valley of the Roses; it is easy to use as it is offered as a tea and it has a long-lasting effect. Which three of these will you choose? Stay with me for the answer below.
Step 2: Quick market research: Sit down at your computer and find out who your most prominent competitors are. What are they saying on their web sites, in their marketing materials, through their ads? Which benefits do they emphasise? What are their messages? Again, try to match product features to their stated benefits. Once you compare your own notes to competitor messages, it will be easy to fine tune your own positioning so you have a unique voice against the rest of the market.
Step 3: Look at areas of underperformance or customer needs/pain points in your industry. Which of these are addressed by your product? Make sure your USP ties in with a market need. In our example, most people who want to lose weight go through different diets and exercising routines. Very often, after the diet is over, they regain weight. Most people don’t have the self-discipline to stick to the diet or go to the gym regularly. So Slim Pam offers an effortless way to lose weight and has longer effect.
Step 4: Strengthen your claims, if you can. Do you have some proof, testimonials, research results to overcome the apathy and scepticism of today’s over-marketed consumer? In our example, Slim Pam was developed by a medical doctor doing research and has been used since the early 1970s in Europe.
Step 5: Synthesise your USP into one to two sentences. Write down and rework versions until it sounds right. Don’t assume you will do it in one sitting. The USP should answer the question “why should I choose your product?” One possible version of Slim Pam’s USP could then be: fast-acting and easy to prepare slimming tea with long-lasting effect.
Your USP is not a simple slogan or tagline. It is the mainstay, the common thread of all your communications. No message should go out from your business without mentioning your USP , or emphasising one of the elements of it. The USP will spark interest and single you out as the best choice in your prospects’ eyes.
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