In my last article, I spent a lot of time presenting to you the idea that words are more important than pictures. Yes, that contradicts a lot of conventional wisdom, but now you understand the need people have for you to present the right words to them. Not only is that supported by hard research, but it has a concrete basis in the structure of the brain.
So the next obvious question is, “What words?” Remember W.I.I.F.M., the station every one of us wants to hear, what’s in it for me? Choose the words that make your prospects realize that what they really want is what you actually offer.
What Is Your USP?
What simple statement about your business or brand — just a quick, clear sentence or two at most — tells your prospects that you are the only alternative for them? Sounds like a response should just jump out at you. Yet most businesses (on- and offline) cannot provide an answer that simply rolls off their tongues or, even more appropriately in the case of e-commerce, appears on their home pages.
By USP, or unique selling proposition, I don’t mean a slogan or a phrase that will appear in your advertising, although that’s one potential use for it. Rather I mean the concise and memorable phrase that answers your prospect’s always-implicit question, “Why should I do business with you and not somebody else?” You may have a hot thing right now, but if you cannot concisely and powerfully describe the unique value of your business for your prospects (and create some excitement among potential buyers), you may not truly have a basis for long-term success.
Helping You Identify Your USP
Write down every possible reason you can find why someone should want to do business with your firm. If you want real results, involve your entire company in a high-energy brainstorming session. If you don’t find at least a few dozen reasons, either you aren’t trying very hard or you have a very boring company. Don’t be afraid to get professional help. Your survival can depend on it. Afterward, review the list and eliminate everything that is also true of your competitors. Nothing should be allowed to remain on the list that can also be claimed by a competitor. Some quick guidelines:
- What is unique about your business or brand versus your direct competitors?
- Which of these factors are most important to your propects?
- Which of these factors are most difficult for your competitors to imitate?
- Which of these factors can be most easily understood by your prospects?
Now create a memorable message out of these unique, meaningful qualities about your business or brand. And make sure it’s a message that speaks to the need your prospective customer feels, not some self-centered stuff about you.
If you’ve been in business for a while, you may have created a USP without realizing it. For example, if you decided to provide live, 24-hour customer service to your customers because no one else is doing it, you’ve created at least a partial USP based on service, and you are communicating that to your intended target buyer. If, however, everyone else does it, too, then it’s not something that sets you apart and should not be the focus of your USP.
Good service, good selection, fair prices, and honest dealing are not relevant factors for creating your USP. Now you must be tempted to ask me why. Simply stated, these are factors your prospects already have in mind; they expect and demand them. So telling them to your prospects gives them the same feeling you get when a used car salesman says, “Let me be honest with you…” You expect honesty. Was he lying to you the rest of the time?
Why You Need a USP
Wow, where do I start?
People are bombarded with sales messages all the time. If you can’t cut through the clutter immediately to offer them something that has obvious value to them, they’ll be long gone to someone who can.
Nowadays a lot of prospects have very short attention spans and even shorter memories, and they are jaded. You must make your USP strong, simple, quick, and clear — immediately, when prospects first hit your site. If you don’t have a strong USP and don’t state it clearly right upfront, you’re sending your traffic elsewhere instead of drawing them deeper into your own sales funnel.