What could be the most important business decision you’ll ever make? Your location, prices, the right funding, your staff, what you say when you answer the phone, your website or your even contacts? None of them in my opinion.
Dead in the water
I firmly believe if you don't get your USP message to shrewdly define your business then you're just dead in the water! With nothing of significance to say about what you stand for, and what you champion, you’re left relying on pure chance for new customers. How can you go out there and market your business if you’ve nothing of value to communicate? You’d have to be mad right? Well, look around you. What sort of marketing do you see going on every day in every day form of media?
By USP I mean your ‘Utterly Seductive Proposal’. The rest of the world call it a unique selling proposition or point, but I have my reasons which you can read here.
The best USPs stir the subconscious mind and create a little intrigue as well. Not easy to do, but considering how vital this part of your business is, why don't more firms spend time on this area of their marketing? Maybe they enjoy a good fight and battling with their competitors?
What happens if you have no USP?
Well, I wouldn’t expect you to be anywhere near the top of your industry sector without a concise piece if individuality people can keep in mind and latch onto. Here’s the way I see things panning out for you without a USP:
No USP = no compelling reason to buy from you
No reason to buy from you = no customers
No customers = no money
and no money = ......well, you know what happens next.
Your company's marketing can only ever be born and begin moving forward when your USP is delivered! Trying to do it before is ludicrous. You have a blank sheet of paper with no direction. You might as write your Christmas list out on it. It really is that fundamental to you promoting your firm.
If you haven't spent time planning out and giving buyers compelling reasons why you're the only place for them to spend their money, over your competition, what are you going to say to these buyers to attract them?
What sales messages are you going to draft?
What is your marketing going to say?
How do you want the recipient of your marketing to feel?
What do you want the recipient of your marketing to do?
What words are you actually going to use: 50% off, 3 months fee, we're the best, established 1939, No. 1 for customer service, you can trust us, big enough to cope, small enough to care [uuurrrrgh!], we do it all, or some other meaningless crap a business owner dreamed up whilst driving his Ford Mondeo down the M40 on a Friday afternoon?
Stop and think what these commonly seen promotional messages actually convey. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that hasn’t been said a million times before! A lot of companies have been pumping out this nonsense for decades and it simply doesn’t resonate with buyers any longer. How many 50% OFF messages have we seen. OR would it be better if it said HALF PRICE…or YOU ONLY PAY HALF? Decisions, decisions.
Information Brain Explode
When did information overload kick in for you? Last year, or 1998? Who knows but it definitely crept up on us all. The world we live in today is unrecognisable to what many of us grew up in.
However many hundred or thousand sales messages our brains receive in a single day we only take in so much. The rest is intuitively blanked out. The bad news is that with more new forms of communication coming at us every other month the greater the variety of promotional opportunities available to marketers. Getting your company messages seen and heard is inevitably going to become more complicated for us all. What are you planning to do about it?
It would be prudent to take a moment [or a week] to stop and look at what you’re going to do differently in the future to guarantee your company’s marketing is brighter and louder than your competitors. Would any of those horrible overused phrases, from above, make you take action, or do you simply think, "I've heard it all before. Your words mean absolutely nothing. Stop wasting your breath"
Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes
Please, for the love of God [and I’m not even religious], STOP TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF! If you don't have individual core features and benefits in your product/service why should anyone do business with you? Who's interested in you? Everyone is consumed with what THEY want, so talk to them like they're the most important person to you in the world.
Think about your product/service and unique ways you could deliver it, or a stand-out risk-free guarantee, or the reasons people could buy from you because they can't get what you offer anywhere else. What can you possibly say with your marketing that isn't a "Me Too" type of desperate cliché appeal in an already swarming marketplace?
In fact, let’s take it one step further: why should your ideal customers get off their fat lazy arses at all? [When it comes to buyer motivation we’ve all got fat lazy arses, so I’m talking about myself here too!] Sometimes products and services are legal requirements and ‘needed’ [insurance, tyres], but most purchases are emotional and merely ‘wanted’. You wouldn’t die if one day you didn't make the decision to purchase a new A&F shirt, a bunch of flowers, Premiership football tickets to the North London Derby or Noel Gallagher's latest melodic masterpiece. But the value you receive in those examples, should you decide to buy, is outweighed by the value you put on the money. This makes your buying decision a YES.
So what can you say that motivates a buyer to open their laptop and spend money with you when, let’s be honest, for the majority of purchases they really do not have to make at all. It’s their choice and they can quite simply leave it. The point of that sentence is to demonstrate that you’re not just competing with rival firms, far from it; you’re also competing with the buyer not taking any action whatsoever!
Your vital decision
We exist in an ever increasingly noisy world and grabbing your prospects' attention is becoming harder. You have to break through the veil of smog created by everyone else pumping out bland and pointless sales messages. These people are actually getting in your way and messing things up for you, but what can you do? The amount of content on the internet is staggering. How will you stand out, and I just mean online? What will you say? How often will you say it? But more importantly, who are you aiming your communications at and what distinctive experience are you actually promising they’ll receive if they deal with you?
Your USP should be written as if it is talking to your ideal target customer. Do not attempt to appeal to everyone; that's unfeasible. A critical point to remember is ‘if you try to be known for everything you'll be known for nothing’.
Create your own USP
In a nutshell, these are the questions you answer to find your own USP:
1/ Who is your ideal target client?
2/ What are the main benefits of your product or service?
3/ What makes you remarkable and what value can you deliver no one else can?
4/ Now you craft a statement that appeals to your prospects and captures 2-4 aspects of your individual brilliance. One or two sentences. 6-20 words should do it.
Sound easy? Try it. I have an exclusive method I use with clients that uncovers things they couldn’t believe they were sat on and didn’t ever talk about with prospects or clients.
Swimming in quicksand
Most companies do something differently to their competition but this doesn’t always mean it is a good thing. This subject is huge as it underpins one’s business. In an ideal world, with a new USP all your marketing would need re-thinking and re-writing. But it's worth it. Re-armed with your new promotional concepts you can unleash on the world industry changing ideas. You can set the bar for how your industry should serve customers
Everything a prospect or customer comes into contact with should convey your USP. This way you become known for something and stand out above others. Without it, you’re swimming in quicksand and guessing what your buyers want.
Apart from taking the decision to actually start a business, your USP really in the most important business decision you’ll ever make.