As a partner in a small company I’m acutely aware that whether I have a USP (Unique Selling Point) or not, can make or break my business. And from time to time my USP will need to be adapted to ensure that it remains absolutely unique. For instance, as photographers it’s not enough to ‘specialise’ in portraiture if half a dozen other photographers in the same town also specialise in the same field!
In a nutshell, your Unique Selling Point has to get one over on your competitors, and you need to keep monitoring to ensure that you maintain your competitive edge. So where do you start? Well the first thing you must do is make list of everything you do in your business, and everything you’re good at. Next (and this might take a bit longer), make a list of your competitors, where they are, what they do and what they’re good at. Take a good look at the two lists and cross out everything that’s the same – because if they’re doing weddings and you’re doing weddings, it’s not unique…
The longer you take to consider your strengths and to evaluate your competitors, the clearer it will become. There will be obvious similarities that can be crossed off the lists immediately; location, certain products, services etc. But eventually something really unique will jump out at you. Are you the first to offer a particular type of service? Are you a major award winner in your field? Do you have a money back guarantee? As a small business do you offer a truly personal and caring service over and above your competitors? What about your product range – is there something really special that no-one else offers? All of these things can be taken into consideration, when evaluating your USP.
A word of warning though. Whilst it’s OK to run special offers and promotions from time to time to bring customers in, don’t make pricing your Unique Selling Point. Not only is it dangerous business practice as far as your bank balance goes, but it’s very easy for the competition to undercut you, so your pricing is no longer unique. Of course you may then choose to undercut your competitors to maintain your USP, and so it goes… Do you get the picture? It’s far better to choose a more enduring USP.
And don’t forget. If you are a small business owner, never underestimate the value of YOU! Your personality; your attitude towards your customers; your ability to really deliver on excellent service and product. Nobody else can be you – now that really is unique!
So after all your research, you’ve found it! Your very own Unique Selling Point. Now that you have it, what do you do with it? Firstly make absolutely sure that it’s what your customers want. From working in your business, you’ll know who your customers are and what they value. For example if you’re a photographer, it’s no good being the only one to offer artistic pregnancy shots if you’re demographic is the ‘grey’ market. Next, monitor it. Make sure that it remains unique – if you’re local competitor starts doing the same as you, it’s time for you to change. And finally – promote, promote, promote. Tell everyone about it.