As discussed in what’s a unique selling point, your unique selling point is your differentiator which separates you from your competition. Now we know how important this differentiator is to your small business, it’s now time to get to work and determine your unique selling point.
What Isn’t a Unique Selling Point
Before you start putting your small business under the microscope, it’s important to understand the attributes which are not unique selling points. Many businesses focus their promotional efforts on these factors. Don’t make the same mistake:
Great service: You claim to offer great service? Guess what: So does everyone else. Offering great service is fundamental to any business, it’s not a unique selling point. However, if you can promise and demonstrate a unique method of providing great service, such as free weekend delivery, 24/7 free phone support or reply paid postage, your service levels can be used as a unique selling point.
Low prices: You may have dozens of competitors. The reality is, only one business can offer the lowest price. And for this privilege, this business has their margin squeezed. But even worse – another competitor can enter the market at anytime with an even lower price. Enter the price war, which leads to balance sheet nightmares and endless dinners of baked beans on toast. It is dangerous to focus on being the lowest price. It’s better to focus on offering exceptional value.
Location: You may be contemplating opening a business in an area without competition. Sounds like a good opportunity. Perhaps. May be in the short term. However, competition could soon come knocking, either in the form of another bricks and mortar business or an online business. Don’t feel that your small business location provides a sustainable competitive advantage. It’s not a moat against competition.
How to Determine Your Unique Selling Point
You know your business better than anyone. To determine your unique selling point take a moment to assess the following:
1. What do your customers love about your business?
Ask them personally. Send your customers an anonymous online survey. Watch their behaviour both in your store and on your website.
2. What can you do that your competition can’t?
Look at the product and service range of your competitors. Compare it to your range. Are there any gaps that you can exploit? If so, capitalize on the gaps, make customers aware of your superior offering and stay one step ahead of your competition.
3. Is there an area that no competitors currently satisfy?
Do you have a competitive advantage that your competitor simply can’t match? Perhaps it is your size, number of employees, opening hours, onsite installation, product hiring, a guarantee or returns policy?
4. Can you bundle regularly used products/services together and offer a value pack?
Think about the total solution that your customers are trying to achieve. This solution can rarely be met with just one product. Is there anything else you can naturally bundle to help solve their problem and create value? Could you offer a free first service with your product, free installation, a free book or 50% off a complementary product?
If two small businesses are selling an identical product, the customer will make a selection based on price. You need to transfer the customers comparison from price to value by supplying an offering that provides more at an acceptable price point.
5. Can you pair up with another business to create a unique product offering?
Think of the purchasing patterns of your customers. Do they need to purchase complementary items before or after visiting your small business? If so, there may be an opportunity to directly offer these products or services or establish a referral relationship with another trusted provider.
6. Can you bundle your product with a service, or vice versa?
Think outside the square. Can you bundle your product with a service? Or a service with a product? This could be a key point of difference for your small business, demonstrating real value to your customers.
7. Can you improve your trial period, guarantee or servicing levels?
Take the risk away from your customers. Make them feel that it’s you that’s taking the risk – not them. Offer an extraordinary guarantee that will blow your customers away and leave the competition trembling.
“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” -George Patton
Implementing Your Unique Selling Point
Your unique selling point doesn’t just stay an abstract objective, filed in a dusty report. You need to bring your unique selling point to life with a simple, short statement. Your unique selling point must be actively threaded through all your business communication. Yes, this includes advertising, brochures, business cards and receipts. It can never be over communicated. As a rule of thumb, if you’re getting sick of seeing your unique selling point, you’re doing a good job.
“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time-a tremendous whack.” -Winston Churchill
It is critical that your entire business can consistently deliver on this promise at every opportunity, year in and year out. This will help cement your selling point in the minds of customers and increase their trust in your small business.
What factors have influenced you in choosing one business over another?
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Awesome article, David.
I’m enjoying reading your articles on building a small business, as there are many ideas I can use in my own business.
To be honest, being unique is not something I have considered as yet. But it is something I will keep in mind going forward.
I like your examples on how I can create my uniqueness (if that’s a word) in my business and my brand.
.-= Cade´s last blog ..Trading Daily Routine Checklist – Are you ticking the boxes – Part 2 =-.
This is a great article with some fantastic ideas. In my experience, it is usually bigger businesses that use things like ‘value adding’ but it’d be great to see more small businesses doing it as well. It certainly provides an incentive for the customer to buy.
.-= Karen´s last blog ..Distance Study Courses – Top 5 Tips to Find the Right One =-.
I like the way you distinguished between what general benefits a business can offer people, and what truly represents a unique selling point.
I think you are right in that there is often competition over the general benefits, and that it is important for a successful business to focus on what really sets them apart from the other good businesses (and not just what sets them apart from the bad businesses).
Another excellent article David – you give some great examples of what a unique selling point could be. It could be as simple as always following up with a courtesy call to check everything is ok. Some guys who laid a new concrete drive-way for us last year followed up with a courtesy call a week or so later and I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve recommended them to other people several times since. By the way, love the coloured pencil photo – and the quotes are also great. Jan
.-= Jan Littlehales´s last blog ..Raising Great Kids – Cycling =-.
Thanks Cade, Karen, Tom and Jan. Glad to help out. Often it’s the small steps which cost very little that separate a good business from a great business. As per Jan’s example – a simple follow up phone call solidified Jan that the concrete company was good enough to recommend to others.
This is an excellent post. I’ve been struggling to find my unique selling point but you’ve definitely given me some great ideas.
I figure by the time I answer your 7 questions to ‘finding your unique selling point'; I’ll have the answers I need.
that is a great article about Unique Selling Points. Your questions are a great help to figure out what it is that makes you special in your business. And especially small business owners need to know that so they can be more effective in their marketing. Well done!
.-= Renee´s last blog ..10 Good Habits Worth Having =-.