In “The Social Network”, the movie based on Facebook’s meteoric rise to prominence, my favorite line is when the young college students sit around a Harvard dorm talking about how fast their idea took off.
FaceMash had just been coded, and the first few emails went out to friends. The hero’s dorm mates ask,
“How many people are you going to tell?”
And he replies:
“The really important question is: How many people will THEY tell?”
One of the key features to branding and positioning yourself in today’s attention economy is to make yourself (and your business) WORTH RECOMMENDING.
One way is to be the very best at everything you do.
Another is to be obsessive about delivering value – all the time.
And have a story that spreads – often one that is tied to your purpose.
Watch this powerful video presentation at TEDtalk by Simon Sinek called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”. It’s about the Golden Circle, and finding your WHY…a simple, effective way to get your prospects eager to do business with you.
Once you’ve reached this stage, one other thing matters. You’ve got to give your eager, interested prospects a COMPELLING REASON why they should buy from you, rather than anyone else.
And that means positioning and defining yourself in a unique way that sets you apart from the competition. In other words, you need a USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
The vast majority of businesses do not have a good, compelling or unique reason. Understand that this differentiation should confer an advantage from the perspective of the BUYER.
Saying you’ve been in business since 1932 isn’t really a benefit that’s immediately perceived – unless you can translate that into a benefit, as in:
“Tailors for well dressed gentlemen since 1932. Our skilled designers have always been on top of current trends.”
The message to grab here is that conveying your uniqueness to your prospects involves a degree of EDUCATING them about yourself, your business and what you do to benefit them. Without the information, they will hesitate to make a buying decision. When they see all the facts, they’ll see the reason why what you’re offering is a wise buy.
Many years ago, I saw a magazine ad for a Rolex. In great detail, the ad explained what went on “beneath the dial” with beautiful pictures showing dozens of interlocking ratchets, with wheels within wheels. Each tiny, perfectly handcrafted element was responsible for a critical function. They all integrated perfectly, worked in synchronicity, coordinated wonderfully.
How did prospective buyers know all that? Because marketers TOLD THEM the story. Explained how their watches worked. Highlighted the benefit from such precision technology so that prospects were convinced that they wanted to own a Rolex, a masterpiece based on such technological excellence.
Schlitz beer ramped up from #5 in the U.S. market to capture the #1 slot after a skilled copywriter named Claude Hopkins decided to tell the story of how exactly they brewed beer. Strangely enough, the story was NOT unique. All beer manufacturers use nearly the identical process.
Hopkins was the first to tell the story. That was unique. No one else was doing it. When Schlitz did, they acquired top-of-mind awareness – and business boomed.
Domino’s Pizza entered a marketplace that was already dominated by Pizza Hut, but differentiated their offering by promising “Hot, Fresh Pizza, delivered at home within 30 minutes – or it’s FREE!” That’s a benefit powerfully denominated in terms that appeal to the buyer, who sees a tangible advantage or benefit from choosing Domino over any other competing brand.
FedEx was launched on the promise of “When It Absolutely, Positively Has To Be There Overnight” – and they came to attain a near monopoly position in the business courier market. That’s the target audience who values speedy and prompt delivery of mission-critical documents. FedEx built a huge business on the back of that compelling promise, and by consistently delivering on it.
More often than not, your USP evolves from how your market (if you already have customers) defines and perceives you. So it helps to ask your clients through a short survey.
Find out why they bought from you. What made them choose you over other competitors? Offer them a range of choices to pick from, in case they can’t clearly define a reason.
In my own online information business, when I surveyed my buyers, I discovered (with a bit of surprise) that the single biggest reason people bought my infoproducts was because they were happy that a part of their purchase price was helping a child receive a life-saving heart operation.
While that definitely was something unique about my business model, I hadn’t highlighted it earlier, because I thought people would be more concerned mainly about the value in business terms that they were getting from my products. After this survey, I realized what mattered more to my clients. So I bumped up this angle, telegraphed it more clearly, and have attracted clients who are even more loyal than the ones I had before! On my website at www.DrMani.com you’ll find this:
“Dr.Mani Sivasubramanian is a heart surgeon and Internet infopreneur using his information business to fund heart surgery for under-privileged children.”
Not all of the benefits your USP statement focus on will be direct and visible. Others may be more intangible and subtle. They may appeal instead to deeper feelings and emotions, desires and dreams. Think of how your product or service may be of value to your market, and come up with a statement that encapsulates that advantage.
…and so on.
Another approach is to focus on your product or service, and answer questions about it:
The key to a USP is that it should be brief, yet complete – and highlight the points that make your business unique in the eyes of your marketplace. It also should have three key components:
Drafting a good ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ may take many attempts. The process can last for weeks, if not months, before you get it right.
Your USP, when it is done, should convey a positive feeling about your company and business, avoid defining your offering as a commodity, and focus on a promise of emotional gratification.
Once you have a working statement, make sure it is visible and communicated everywhere. Put it into your marketing message, your website, within your information products, in your email communications and in all other channels through which you connect with your audience.
There’s a lot more to crafting your USP, and there are comprehensive guides and books written on the subject. One that I highly recommend that you read is by my mentor, Jay Abraham. It’s titled “How To Create A Unique Selling Proposition”.
This article you’ve just read is itself a modified excerpt from my infopreneur mentoring program in which we delve deeper into other elements of positioning your business as ‘special’ and ‘unique’ in a remarkable way. To learn more about it, please contact me. These are three month sessions held thrice every year, during which I guide Internet entrepreneurs through some of the core components of building a business that lasts and thrives – by basing it upon a meaningful purpose that’s fired by your own passion.