In my first post I talked about validating your niche, this post will talk about narrowing your niche and defining your unique selling proposition (USP).
These two factors are critical if you want to really appeal to people. If you want your product or service to really stand out, you must differentiate what you have to offer from everybody else. Narrowing your niche and your USP both work very well at doing this.
A USP (in its formal definition) is a proposition that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique – either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
Now that is very strong and bold. If you can make a brand or claim like that, great. Otherwise, try to think of your USP as the angle or way you position your product or offer to the market. Dr Mani’s post had some great points about USPs. I will go through some examples later, firstly we will talk about your niche.
I know it seems counter intuitive as someone who wants to sell something to reduce the size of your potential customer base, but let me assure you it is very important. This can be the difference between failing and succeeding in your business.
You want to narrow your audience for two reasons:
We all know in life that we cannot please everyone, no matter how hard we try. The sooner you accept that it is OK that some people may not be interested in your product or like what you have to offer, the better. In fact it is much better. It will save you a lot of time and energy.
You want to talk to people who want to listen to what you have to say. Don’t waste your time trying to convert people or change their world views. Usually the most remarkable products or brands have very polarized relationships with the public. It’s love or hate, there is no middle ground. Look at Apple. You either are an Apple fanatic and usually own multiple products and love them or you’re not interested in them at all.
Basically, when you define what you have to offer – be true to it, even it means losing some people along the way.
For example, you may operate in the raw organic food niche. Does everyone in the organic food niche resonate with raw organic food? No, and that’s OK. You may want to try and convert people, but we all know how difficult it can be to change people’s opinions. That is not our goal as a marketer. Our goal is to speak to people who have a similar worldview and are already interested or open to the concept of raw organic food, and want to listen to what you have to offer on the topic.
Seth Godin covered the idea of marketing to customers, who shared a congruent worldview, extensively in his excellent book All Marketers are Liars.
“You need to realize that changing a worldview requires you to get your prospects to admit that they were wrong. This is awfully hard to do.” – Seth Godin.
Narrowing your niche is vital. If done correctly, it separates you from the crowd and that means more chance of getting noticed. If you are in the weight loss niche and you just go out there promoting another weight loss product, you will get hammered, you will get lost in the ocean of all the other weight loss products. You need to narrow that niche down, you need to get more specific. You want to provide a specific solution to a specific set of people.
Let’s talk more about specific solutions and why specificity is good. Let’s take some casual examples.
When you go to a restaurant and they serve Chinese, Thai, Italian and Hamburgers on the menu (don’t laugh, I have seen it in Thailand), do you think the quality of the Italian will be any good? What about when you go to an Italian restaurant and all they sell is pasta, in fact they specialize in pasta. Do you have a little more confidence in their ability to dish up a good carbonara? The Italian restaurant knows that it is not pleasing everyone. If you want something else besides Italian pasta you don’t go there. But if you want a good authentic Italian pasta you will probably go there.
As humans we love specificity. Take pain killers for example. If you have a headache and you went to the pharmacy, would you just buy a bottle labeled with “Medicine”. Probably not, it is in the general category of what you want, but too broad. What about a bottle labeled “Pain Killer”? You would probably buy this, unless you were presented with one labeled “Pain Killer for Headaches”. With a headache and given a choice between the last two options, you most likely will go for the one that specifically addresses your problem.
Let’s look at a real life example of how you would develop a product with a USP. We know health and fitness is a huge market. Let’s break it down a little:
Now that is a USP, it’s not for men, it’s not a weight loss product, it’s not a female bodybuilding routine, but a specific exercise program to achieve a desired look. Very targeted. It doesn’t appeal to everyone, but you can bet that it will have the attention of women who are interested in getting a Hollywood type physique. You can see this USP in action: Visual Impact for Women.
Most of the top selling ClickBank products have a great USP. Tinnitus Miracle claims to be the “only holistic system in existence that will permanently eliminate the ringing in your ears”. Talk about a strong USP. Straight away if you are not interested in a natural non-drug approach, this product is not for you. But if you are open or even a little bit curious about how a non-drug and non-surgical approach may help your ear ringing, then you will probably read on.
You don’t necessarily have to develop a product, it can also be how you present the product. This is handy for affiliate marketers. Some marketers call the special way to present the product “the hook”.
To craft a hook you need to know the product. And you can choose an angle that promotes one of the product’s unique strengths. Or you can think creatively about how the product can be used in a very unique way. Now when you present your offer against all the other affiliate marketers, your offer stands out. The way you present the product and talk about it is different and attention grabbing.
One of the best USPs I have seen in recent years is Mast Brothers Chocolate. The brothers, Rick and Michael, are craftsmen. Their style is decidedly “old school”, in fact it’s more like last century. Everything is handcrafted, each block of chocolate is individually made and wrapped. They are so involved in their “craft” that they travel via a wooden sail boat to the cacao farms to pick the beans up and bring them back to America for the chocolate making process! Now that’s a USP.
In their own words from their website:
“We thank you for sharing our love for craft chocolate. My brother and I, our staff and our families have put everything we have into the handcrafting of this chocolate […] Craft chocolate depends on world-class execution. With artful roasting, careful winnowing, stone grinding, patient aging, and flawless tempering, truly one of a kind craft chocolate can be made […].”
So if you are someone who appreciates the craft of chocolate or believes that chocolate is more than just a junk food treat, then the Mast brothers message resonates with you. Not everyone wants to pay $8 for a block of chocolate, and the brothers are OK with that. But for the small market who believe chocolate is a bit more than a Hershey’s bar, when the Mast brothers talk, they will be all ears.
Don’t be afraid to narrow your niche. As long as it is a valid niche, hone in on a section and ignore everyone else. Speak to your selected narrow niche. If you try to tip toe the line and please everyone, you will miss out on the opportunity to really get your message across and truly resonate with people. When you miss out on really communicating and resonating with an audience, making sales is hard work.