What you have to impress upon prospective customers is the added value they can expect when they establish a relationship with you. It may be a specific feature so unique to your company that it can stand alone as a persuasive reason to deal with you. But the odds on finding and isolating that single 24-carat nugget of information that makes you so special are pretty small. More than likely, it’s a combination of less spectacular reasons that, when added up, give you a definite perceived advantage over your competition.
This single feature, or combination of distinguishing features, has been given many names over the years by various marketing pundits, but the most commonly accepted and longest lived is the unique selling proposition (USP), a term coined by Rosser Reeves, the CEO of Bates Advertising back in the 1950s. The interesting thing about a USP is that this unique attribute or feature doesn’t necessarily have to be unique to you, your product or your services; you only have to create the perception that it is unique in the mind of the audience you are addressing.
And if, in so doing, you become the only one in your business category talking about your product’s special attribute, you end up owning its uniqueness.
USP in Practice
Here’s an example: Reeves did this with US toothpaste brand, Gleam. At the time, toothpaste was seen as merely a cleaning and whitening aid. (In those days, most people smoked three packs a day of unfiltered cigarettes and drank litres of diesel-strength coffee, so bad breath and less than pearly-white teeth were fairly common problems.)After talking to the people who made Gleam, Reeves discovered it contained chlorophyll, which was primarily a breath freshener. Reeves immediately renamed and advertised the product as “Gleam Toothpaste with miracle ingredient GL70”. This so-called miracle ingredient was vigorously hyped as the answer to effective oral hygiene for people who couldn’t brush after every meal because it helped fight both tooth decay and bad breath.
If you didn’t want to put up with the operating-room taste of things like Listerine, this was seen as the answer to your problems. Within months, the product was selling like hotcakes to hordes of smoking, coffee drinking, hamburger-munching Americans.
But the most interesting part of the story is that just about every other brand of toothpaste on the market had chlorophyll in it. It was only because Reeves took the time to find out about every single product ingredient and its attributes, recognise that one of them presented an opportunity to create a USP, develop a completely new way to position Gleam from the way toothpaste had always been marketed to the public, and then be the only one in the marketplace to talk about it (making it the core element of all the advertising), that he was able to turn a me-too toothpaste into a huge brand.
This concept of a USP is an important lesson to consider when putting together a marketing strategy. Do not doubt for one minute that there will be some particular facet of your business you can promote as being unique, whether it’s in the products or services you create, the way you sell them or the second-to-none after-sales services you develop that keep customers coming back. Somewhere in that mix there will be something you can transform into a USP. All you have to do is find it – then communicate it to your potential market.
Nailing Your USP
Whether you’re a start-up or reinventing yourself, identifying the essential core elements that can help build your company’s name and reputation will get you started on the road to fame, fortune and fast cars.
As you develop a marketing strategy to use as the foundation of your communications plan, some questions to consider are:
- Are you unique?
- If so, in what way?
- Can you definitely prove it?
- If you’re not unique, are you better at what you do than the competition? What exactly is it that makes you better?
- Can you demonstrate in easily understandable language what it is that makes you better or different?
- Do you provide quality, either at a price or irrespective of price?
- Do you provide value? And that doesn’t necessarily mean offering the cheapest prices or matching those of some fly-by-night outfit that could very well not be around tomorrow.
- If you believe you provide value, can you express it in 20 words or less, spelling out what is the unquestionable benefit you provide at a fair price to satisfied customers?
- Do you back up your quality products or services with solid, no-questions-asked guarantees and unmatched customer relationships?
- Are you totally reliable? This goes beyond the two points above and is the reason why some companies have been in business for years, while seemingly not being different from other companies with similar products and services. Perhaps a better way of posing the question would be: Does your company have integrity?
- Do you give the impression that you’ve been around for a while and intend to be around for a good deal longer? And that anyone dealing with you (particularly in a B2B relationship) should be assured that you will unhesitatingly solve, to their complete satisfaction, any problems that may occur in your business relationship?
- Even though it may not necessarily be seen as an obvious bottom-line revenue generator, are you prepared to spend time helping solve customers’ problems, irrespective of whether this is part of the service
you normally provide?
- If you’ve been in business for a while, do you have solid and reference-proof case studies, particularly with locally recognisable satisfied customers, that you can talk about in your advertising? Can potential customers call your existing customers to verify their experiences with you?
- If you went out of business tomorrow, would anyone care apart from you, your mother and your investors?
Let’s assume you can answer yes to at least one of the above items. If so, congratulations, you have a USP. Put it down on paper and integrate it in all your marketing material.
When The Customer Fixates On Price, It’s Probably Not About The Money
Customers often talk cost when they have vague concerns about the product. Your job is to find out and solve the real problem.
If the person I’m working with can afford the product, but isn’t buying and continues to focus on the money, I realise this buyer has other concerns. While your customer may be objecting to price, know there is something else you might not know. He or she is thinking,
“Is this the right product? Is there a better product? Is this the right proposal? Will this solve our problem? Will I use it? What will other people think about my decision? Am I going to really use and enjoy this? Will this company take care of us? Am I better off buying something else? Will something better come out next week? Do I know enough to make a decision? Should we invest in something else? Is this going to be a mistake? Is this person going to let me down?”
When these other questions are handled, the price will no longer be the issue.
The right product will solve all the customers problems
Let’s say a man is buying a birthday present for his girlfriend. He finds something he thinks she will love. You tell him the price and he says it’s more than he can afford. What he’s actually saying is that he’s not completely sold on that product. If it’s too much for that ring, he either doesn’t love it himself or is not sure she will — or both.
You have to get the right product that solves all of his problems. Address other concerns and price won’t be the big issue. You can justify the price with other inventory. Don’t make the mistake of offering something with a lower price when you get a customer making price objections.
This is not a way to resolve the money problem. When you move the customer down to offer something cheaper, they are actually more likely to like the product even less than the first one. This will cause your buyer to believe you don’t have a solution.
Instead of moving them down, try moving them up. This will get the customer thinking in terms of value, not price. This will also determine whether the price objection was even valid or not. If a guy is looking at a R6 000 ring and objects to the price, show him a R9 000 ring. The R6 000 ring may become more attractive to him.
Help the customer feel like they’re making a good decision
Buyers are more concerned about making a good decision than how low the price is. What’s the worst that can happen by moving someone up in inventory?
- He will look at something more expensive, which means he wasn’t committed to the original product.
- He needs to move in the other direction, something cheaper. That makes the price objection valid.
- He looks at the more expensive item but sees value in the original item.
Exhaust your inventory, not your price. You are losing just as many customers to more expensive products as you are to less expensive products. Your buyer would rather pay more and make the right decision than pay less and make a mistake.
Take Your Sales Skills To The Next Level With These 5 Simple Steps
Learn to sell nearly anything.
Entrepreneur Network partner Brian Tracy says one of the most valuable skills a person can have is the ability to sell anything to anyone.
The motivational speaker provides a few tips to help even the most beginner of salesman to improve their skills dramatically:
- Understand the needs of your customers.
- Sell yourself.
- Do research on the client.
- Ask questions and engage in a dialogue with your customers.
Finally, keep in mind that you should not only be selling – but also helping your customers. Selling is part of a relationship and the more established the relationship, the more effective your sales tactics will be.
To hear more about selling from Tracy click on the video below:
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Boost Your Business With Smart Delivery
Differentiate your business in the one way that customers value the most: deliver the goods on time.
It can be difficult to carve out a competitive advantage in today’s cutthroat business environment. For some companies, investments have been focused on creating digital advantage through measures like apps or fancy websites, or improved processes with clever technology to make things run faster and better. While all those strategies have their place, there could be a far simpler way to put your business ahead of the competition. Deliver the goods, in a very literal sense.
The Internet revolution has made today’s markets very competitive in all sorts of ways. Barriers to entering many markets have tumbled and new competitors are everywhere. Consumers have greater choice than ever and can easily compare prices and service. That is good for consumers, but it makes it hard for companies to attract and retain a loyal following.
By now, it should be no secret that people are willing to pay for convenience. In fact, many of the digital initiatives we see today are succeeding because of the convenience they provide. Take the Uber example: Using technology services, it brings together willing sellers with willing buyers, with the ultimate convenience of being able to see where your Uber is, who the driver is and what car to expect. Even more convenient, your Uber shows up when you need it.
Extend the same concept to physical goods, no matter what they may be and it is not difficult to see how a delivery service can easily put a big smile on your customers’ faces. Whether you are selling horse saddles, operate a bicycle store, run the local grocer, hardware outlet or restaurant: bringing your goods to your customers saves them time, makes it easier to buy and has the added effect of establishing further rapport to build trusted relationships.
According to Forbes, the Internet has habituated today’s shoppers to instant gratification. While physical goods obviously cannot be accessed at a click, there is no doubt that speedy delivery has become a driver of competitive advantage.
Getting a delivery service set up can be easy and low-cost provided your market is fairly local and your product relatively easy to transport. There are a range of options for vehicles, from a versatile bakkie or minivan capable of handling large loads or bigger items, through to a delivery motorbike or scooter. For those providing smaller items, scooters or motorbikes are a great option, as they enable convenience when your customers might most need it: during rush hour. A bike can zip through the traffic, impressing your customer by ensuring that they get what they need, without wasting time stuck in the car due to traffic or lack of parking.
A big question would be whether your deliveries are handled in-house or by a third party. There are pros and cons, but there is an increasing trend for many smaller businesses to make use of specialised logistics/ delivery operations. After all, this means you do not have to make the capital investment in a vehicle or scooter, pay a staff member to do the job and take on the insurance and management issues. Not only are you engaging an expert, you are also doing your bit to support another business.
Third-party delivery partners also work well for deliveries in far-flung areas, or if your product is bulky.
It is a good idea to see what other businesses of your size are doing and who they are using. It is important to choose a delivery partner whose service ethos matches your own.
Whatever option you choose, make sure you understand the risk and have the right kind of business insurance in place. It is also a good idea to have the ability to monitor where your deliveries are in real time. If you have a third-party partner, they should be able to provide this for you.
With most big stores offering delivery services as part of their value proposition, adding this choice to your service offering increasingly makes good business sense. Customers are quite prepared to pay a slight premium to get what they want, right to their front door – and they will keep on coming back for more.
MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)
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