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Some USPs are Unspoken

By TIM COE Published 20th Aug 2014
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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.

Tim Coe

Unique Views: 2091 | Total Page Views: 2572
208 weeks ago, by John
You mention the standards of service from Tesco home delivery. We use Sainsburys and all of their drivers without fail seem to offer a consistently high and friendly service. Not sure why I should feel surprised by this, perhaps expectations have been lowered by the typical retail experience?
208 weeks ago, by James
I've just heard that Uber, the company who are disrupting London taxi services, are going to start delivering shopping. I wonder if this is the future of home delivery including parcels currently sent by mail.
206 weeks ago, by Tim
Uber will not do it for £1 though like Tesco. They can't. how long does it take to pick and pack it? Let alone drive it to someone at taxi rates? Tesco's max. is £6 I think for Saturday evening.
204 weeks ago, by James
Uber may find a market in the delicatessen and other niche shops that exist in city centres.
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