Why do so many small businesses fail?
The answer is that they do a bad job of figuring out why anyone would want to buy their products and services.
And no, I’m not just talking about communicating what a product or service does, I’m talking about expressing why that product or service would do one of three things:
- Solve a customer’s problem
- Make a customer’s life easier
- Fulfill a customer’s want or need
In other words, finding your unique selling proposition (USP) is all about figuring out the ‘why’ of your business as opposed to the ‘what,’ then finding the best way to express that to your audience.
Your USP may be the final bit of persuasion your prospects need to choose your business over a similar one, so it’s insanely important to find the right one. What makes you different? And why should a prospect choose you over the competition?
It’s the old Coke versus Pepsi argument, and you better believe both of those mega brands had a USP that appealed to different segments of the market.
Let’s dive deeper into the three strategies you can use to create your USP so you can tell your audience why you’re worthy of their attention.
Stop Thinking You’re the Best
When it comes to businesses, the word ‘best’ has pretty much lost all meaning. EVERYONE claims that their products and services are the best, and even if some type of independent confirmation backs that up, it’s not enough to win over your audience.
For example, all the major grocery store chains say they’re the best, so how are they going to lure shoppers without a strong USP?
As Corbett Barr, CEO of Fizzle pointed out, “having a great product or superb content is probably not enough of a difference to make your business stand out. In most markets, having a great product is just the price of admission.”
Barr is right, which just goes to how insanely competitive it is out there, but there is a solution.
Focus on selling what you do best, instead of claiming you’re the best.
Snapchat did this by offering a different social media experience. Instead of just launching another platform to rival Facebook, Snapchat’s founders decided that expiring content was its USP, and built an entire business on videos and images that fade after 10 seconds.
The founders of Snapchat didn’t try to promote their platform as the best, they focused on what was different about their service, and became hugely successful as a result.
Sell the Personality of Your Business
Personality goes a long way when it comes to your business because audiences respond to brands that have identifiable characteristics.
For example, Michael Dubin, the founder of Dollar Shave Club knew that his business was competing against giant brands that had been selling razors and accessories for decades.
Dubin also knew that his USP couldn’t just be the fact that his company was a subscription-based razor service that was cheaper than the big brands.
So he focused on selling the personality of his company by appearing in a series of social media and TV ads that showcased the everyman quality that was the essence of the business.
Dubin was a perfect stand-in for regular guys that just wanted affordable razors and were willing to try something different to get those razors.
With his unknotted tie and ironic personality, Dubin became THE DUDE, a guy that his audience would want to hang out with…AND buy his affordable razors.
In other words, Dubin was the exact marketing persona that his company was selling to, and because he embodied that persona in such a fun, regular-guy way, his USP was strong.
Find the personality in your business that you can sell. For example, if you sell computer software for beginners, you could build your USP around Clueless Computer Guy, that person everyone knows who understands nothing about computers or software.
By creating the manifestation of your ideal customer, you give your target audience a clear reason why you’re different, but you do so in an imaginative way.
Find the Need That Your Business Fills
The brands that are most successful on both the small business level and the giant, multinational level have one thing in common: they fill some type of need in their audience.
Let’s take Oreo as an example?
Oreos are really just a chocolate cookie with cream filling, right?
But then why are millions of adults still dunking Oreos in milk and delighting in the taste?
Not because Oreos are the best cream-filled cookies on the planet, but because Oreos evoke memories of childhood, and getting together with friends at home for a snack, and comfort, and security.
Oreo sells memories of simpler times, and it knows adults love to relive those good times, and that children like to eat a simple cream-filled cookie that they can open up and lick.
What need does your business fill?
If you sell alarm systems, you fill the need in all of us to feel safe and secure and to protect what we love.
If you sell video games, you fill the need in all of us to be transported to other worlds and dimensions where we get to be heroes and conquer evil.
You’ll find a strong USP once you understand the emotional need that your products and services fill in your audience.
Don’t Sell the Product, Sell the Experience
Finding a strong USP can boost your business prospects immeasurably. As entrepreneur and business coach Deborah Bateman said, “if you are able to make your product or service stand out, everything you do will be easier.”
Tell your audience why you’re different by focusing on the experience your business offers. If you need more marketing advice, please contact us today.