You may not know how to best go about optimizing your web presence. But there are some great professionals out there that can help you with that. Let them do what they’re good at, while you do what you’re good at… running your business.
Businesses need to be optimized, too. Unless you enjoy a monopoly in your niche, and there’s a strong demand for what you offer, you’ll need to do some effective marketing in order to draw customers to you.
If you hire an SEO, and they get your business to the #1 position in the search results, with tons of new qualified visitors every day, how much good will it do, if the best you can offer those visitors is something along the lines of “Nice widgets at fair prices”?
Think you’ll write a lot of orders with that kind of pitch?
I’ll answer that for you… NO!
If you have any competition at all (and we ALL do), you’ll need to offer customers something more than the next guy, or they’ll fade on you. You need to push your USP.
Your USP, or unique selling proposition, is what makes your company better than the next guy. It’s something that your customer can only get from you.
You may never have thought about your USP. You may have no idea what your company’s USP even is. But you have one, believe me. Maybe you haven’t focused on it or even developed it yet, but it’s there… just waiting to bring you more sales.
Maybe it’s your product quality, superior service, fast shipment, best value… it can be any number of things. But every business has at least one. You just need to find it or build it, then let the world know about it.
If you don’t identify your USP and start marketing your business on its merits, you’re already in a failure mode. Somebody else will beat you to it, and you’ll find yourself on the outside, looking in.
A Couple of Painful Truths
- If you remain just one more peddler among many, you will never achieve success. You may last a while, even make a little money in the process. But your future is in the hands of the competitors that DO have a USP and use it. They lead, and you’ll have to scamper to keep up. They will set prices, quality standards and delivery times in your market, and you’ll do your best to keep up. But all you’ll usually end up with is their table scraps.
- Every provider, regardless of the product or service offered, will eventually lose its market. A competitor may beat them with a better product, cheaper process or just beat them up by cutting the price. But it will come to us all, at some point. The key is to postpone it as long as possible.
Every product or service eventually becomes obsolete. Covered wagons gave way to trains, steam engines gave way to diesel engines and propeller aircraft gave way to jets. Popular or even necessary products have been giving way to more innovative products since flint knives went out of vogue.
And eventually, internal combustion engines and nuclear power plants will just be mentioned in history books. So to prosper today, and be able to react tomorrow, you need to identify your unique selling proposition, build your marketing plan around it and keep improving and pushing it every single day.
So – what’s your USP?
Identifying Your USP
Each offering requires its own process of identifying the ideal USP. You’ll have to determine for yourself where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Here are a few things that may help.
First, build a spreadsheet, and list your company and several of your leading competitors in columns across the top. Then list the following in factors in rows down the left side of the sheet:
- Brand recognition
- Extra value
When you’re done, it should look something like this:
Now you’re going to rate your own business and each of those competitors in every category, on a 1-5 scale: 1=extremely unfavorable, 2=somewhat unfavorable, 3=more or less, 4=somewhat favorable, 5=extremely favorable.
Be honest and objective. Remember, your impressions don’t sell your products… only the customers’ impressions matter. It wouldn’t even be a bad idea to have someone else review it with you and make you justify your ratings. When you’ve rated everything, total them up, and now it should look like this:
As you can see, your primary competitor is kicking your butt on Price, Testimonials and Brand Recognition, while you have an advantage on Warranty and Service.
You already know that you’re not going to beat them quickly in terms of brand, so that’s a long-term goal. So what you need to do is see where you can improve your weaknesses and maximize your strengths.
You can do that in a couple of ways. First of all, who knows about those strengths? If you didn’t say “My customers know”, then you’ve been dropping the ball. You need to play those strengths. Let people know how much better your Warranty and Service is than your competitors’. And improve them even more!
Then, look at the weaknesses and determine which ones you can improve enough to not only catch up, but to pass your competitor. Then let people know about that improvement!
Finally, look at the areas in which you and your competitors are on a par. In the example above, that would be Quality, Delivery and Extra Value. Find ways to pass them up on those items, too.
When you look at these distinct aspects of your business, you may be surprised and find areas for relatively quick and easy improvements that you never saw before. Now you should have an idea of where you stand, and where you want to go.
How to Make Your USP Work for You
If you’re being beaten on price, take a look at all your processes to see where you can find savings without sacrificing elsewhere. Thinking “outside the box” can sometimes show you ways to jump your score considerably. One thing is certain, if you don’t look for it, you won’t find it.
For instance, even if you can’t find acceptable ways to lower your prices, you may be able to point out that you’ve managed to hold the same pricing in spite of X% increase in material and labor costs. If you can show that your competitors have raised their prices Y% in the same time frame, so much the better. Just be truthful and back up your statements with hard evidence.
Focus on promoting your strengths and your improvements in all the applicable areas, but put the most attention on your USP… where your competitors can’t touch you.
Use your customers for feedback. What do they like about your product, what frustrates them, what new features or services would they like to see? Identify a want/need and then fill it. If you can turn that into yet another USP, dynamite! Finding a customer’s desire or pain-point and resolving it has done wonders for many successful businesses.
Don’t be vague. Saying things like “Our widgets are better” or “Our prices are lower” are just seen as transparent hype by savvy customers today. Give them details and proof, and you’ll get their attention.
Effective marketing means saying the right thing…
to the right people…
in the right way…
at the right time.
If you’re not saying anything, don’t be surprised if they don’t hear you.