One mistake that many startup businesses make is that they try to be everything to everyone. They want to be known for the highest quality and the lowest prices and the best services. But in today’s highly competitive market, no business can be a Jack-of-all-trades and prosper. Customers simply won’t buy their claim. Unless you are selling something truly unique that is in high demand, you need to have a unique selling proposition if you want to have any chance of survival.
Unique selling proposition is defined as the factor or consideration that a seller presents as the reason that his product or service is different and better than that of his competitors’. In other words, it is what your business stands for and it is what your customers come to you for. If your USP is “We sell the best Persian carpets in the whole world”, then people who are looking for the best quality Persian carpets will come to you, regardless of your price.
If you look around, you will see that every successful business has a unique selling proposition. Starbucks sells “premium coffee beverages”; Wal-Mart sells “fantastic bargains”; Revlon sells “hope, not makeup”, Coca Cola sells “good time” and Apple sells “useable products”. All these companies are so successful because they do not just sell products; they sell what their target customers are looking for in their products.
Why is it so important to have a USP? The reason is that today’s savvy customers are not just interested in buying products; they want that “extra something” that comes with the purchase of each product. If you make a promise to give them that and keep your promise, then they will come to you regardless of the other factors. The idea is to appeal to the customer’s inner desire – to get to their heart and to win their mind. If you can do that, then they will come to you even if your product is more expensive than your competitors.
So how do you discover your unique selling proposition? You may have ideas and those ideas may look fantastic to you, but if it doesn’t appeal to your target customers, then you need a new USP. So the first thing you should do is put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Find out what they really want? If you are selling pizzas, ask yourself what they want besides tasty pizza. Is it quality, comfort, convenience or good customer service? Customers do not just pay for your product; they pay for what you offer in addition to the product.
The next thing you should do is to give your customers a good reason to choose you over your competitors. For that, you need to determine your strong points and determine what you want to be known for. If you want your business to be known for quality products, then focus on quality. Don’t try to mix it with “low price”. If you want to sell authentic Lebanese cuisine, don’t mix it with Indian cuisine. Focus is very important. Once your customers know what you stand for, they will come flocking to you regardless of other factors.
So what’s your unique selling proposition?
Picture by Vicente