This is a tale of true loyalty. Not of a dog that came home 4 years after being lost on a walk on Hampstead Heath, but of a friend called Fergus McLelland. He just called me because he had a realisation..."NOT ALL USPs ARE OBVIOUS". No Sir, not all USPs jump out at you at all. Sometimes, it's until something triggers a conscious awakening that certain USPs become real.
Fergus just unbegrudgingly paid £128 to Millennium Music of Nottingham for an AKGC120 large diaphragm microphone that was available for under £100 through Amazon. What makes someone do this?
He preferred to pay a company that:
- he had a relationship and went back years with
- had always received great service from
- would put anything right with no trouble, even years down the line
- and he wanted Millennium Music to be in business in the future.
One cannot pick up the phone and have a detailed discussion about the differences between one mic and another with Amazon, that's not how they do business. If you're only shopping on price, nothing else matters and you know exactly what you want, then great.
We've all heard of someone who pumped a High Street retailer for as much info as possible before walking out the door and buying online. I suppose we've all done it to varying degrees at one time or another. The retailer's become the shop window where you can try and buy what's available on the Internet.
So anyway, Fergus had read my book 'your UTTERLY SEDUCTIVE PROPOSAL' and called me to say that the shop's USP was the feeling they'd instilled into him. Year by year they'd created such loyalty a customer was happy to 20-25% more.
That's not a tangible USP one can talk about. EVERYONE says they offer great service don't they? You do and your competition do. To use 'great service' for a great marketing idea....forget it. But when I ask companies why I should buy from them over their competition the most common answer is [you've got it], "We give great service."
However, by consistently and ruthlessly repeating the high service standards over and over again you will make a dent in people's subconscious, you can't fail. Provided those things are the right things of course - manners, communication, integrity and the most important one of all in my book, DOING WHAT YOU SAY YOU'RE GOING TO DO.
If you want to instantly lose credibility it's so so simple. Say you'll call someone back and don't. No skill required in that. That sentence didn't teach you anything but I wanted to highlight it's the basics that count. Maybe some think it's the company's reputation that is being damaged by a non-returned call. I look directly at the person. They are one who made the promise to do something. Reputation is everything and yet costs nothing.
To keep your word takes a lot of effort and I love to hear stories like this one; Fergus's Nottingham friends providing relentless great service over the years and it winning them business over the online giants.
Things are changing. Until only a few weeks ago [July 2014] I used to spend £1.63 posting my mum tobacco each week. Now Tesco hand-deliver it with a smile, manners and respect [based on my experiences of their home Delivery] for a mere £1 if I buy it from them online. Perfect.
The take-away from this is that USPs are everywhere and often not where you look for them. Usually the USP is about a promise, a guarantee, technical innovation, speed, a unique method, or it could even be something as natural and simple as the view you get from a restaurant location.
I'd never recommend anyone rely on great service for their competitive edge. There's too many people who are not old school like Fergus and loyalty means nothing. Create something unique, distinctive, memorable and highly discussable, then you'll have a USP you can rely on.
Thanks for reading.