Are you the same as your competitors?
It’s a simple question but also a profoundly difficult question for many business owners (especially service providers).
Be honest and answer it. If you are the same as your competitors, why would customers choose you? Is it because you are shouting the loudest? If you can afford to keep shouting the loudest and want to spend your money & time that way, work away. But if you can’t or don’t want to, you need to do something about making your business be different and stand out from the competitors. The world is getting nosier all the time and what actually works in a noisy environment isn’t more noise but finding customers who will tell other people about your amazing business.
If you think you are different from your competitors, how are you actually different? Even more important, is that difference actually important to your customers? I have worked with lots of business owners for example who insist that being local is what makes them different but when you asked their customers, they didn’t rate the local aspect at all (in many cases, they didn’t even realise the businesses were local).
So how do I develop a value proposition?
The secret to creating your unique selling proposition (USP) is understanding what your ideal client really wants and making sure you deliver it better than anyone else. Don’t rush this – while it sounds simple, this exercise is not easy to do. It takes a lot of thought, brainstorming and sometimes a bit of trial and error to see what works. Sometimes we are just too close to our businesses to truly see that differentiating quality that makes us stand out.
These two templates may help you with your brainstorming – try to fill out the blanks;
[Your Business] is for [sector] like [name a customer] who [problem] which is better than [existing alternatives] because [differentiator].
Basically this a clear statement of the tangible results a customer gets from using your products/services. Put simply – it is what the customer gets for their money and is a great starting point.
Another template (from Seth Godin) is;
My product is for people that believe ____. I’ll focus on people that want ____. I promise that engaging with what I make will help you get ____.
What makes a good value proposition?
- Simple – it’s easy to understand.
- It communicates clearly the concrete results (real and/or emotional) a customer will get from purchasing and using your products and/or services.
- It says how it’s different or better than the competitor’s offer.
- It avoids hype (like “Never seen before!”), superlatives (“best”) and business jargon (“customer-centric”).
- It can be read and understood in about 5 seconds.
Some examples to help & inspire you
Facebook helps you ‘connect and share with the people in your life” and YouTube “provides a place to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe.”
When AirBnB started to disrupt the hospitality industry, it needed to market to two target markets: guests who wanted a place to stay and hosts who wanted to rent out their spaces. So they needed a two-in-one value proposition: Travelers benefit from a truly local experience and hosts benefit from extra income. In their own words, “Airbnb exists to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, providing healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable.”
Here is a good article that might help you find a “theme” or angle for your value proposition: Value Propositions that Work
Not everyone who sees your product/service is going to love it. Differentiating your business is all about being unique and memorable while presenting yourself to potential customers who may value you. Remember: You don’t need to be unique to the whole world, just in your ideal customer’s mind.