Standing out from the crowd is a good thing (a really good thing).
If I had a pound for every time the subject of how to differentiate a business came up in conversation at Opendoorz meetings I’d, well let’s just say, I wouldn’t need to be writing this!
Unless you are the only seller of frozen margheritas on a tropical island packed full of holiday-makers it is quite likely that you are in a marketplace with others who offer the same or similar services and products to you.
If we could dip our toe just slightly into the marketing jargon pool for a moment it’s called your ‘USP’ or ‘Unique Selling Point’ (sometimes ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ – same thing just more syllables). It all boils down to finding your hook – what will make you stand out in the crowd to your target audience? Get the answer right and you have a healthy, growing and successful business. Get it wrong and your business will crash and burn (think Gerald Ratner… need I say more!).
I recently stayed at a hotel where for one reason and another we arrived late and a little flustered. The reception staff greeted us warmly and instructed us to ‘pop our cases down over there and they’ll be taken to our rooms. Come on in to the bar and sit by the fire while we get you a drink. G &T? Fizz?’ Perfect! They anticipated our needs and made us feel welcome and at home. A simple but considerate gesture that meant we’d already fallen in love with the place before we’d even seen the room. They then actually up graded our room so we were doubly thrilled and have, literally, told everyone we know about the place.
It didn’t cost them much and it wasn’t rocket science or an innovative product. It was ‘good, old-fashioned customer service’ and it’s still, indisputably, the best form of marketing.
It’s the panacea, the holy grail, for business success: turning your customers into such devoted fans (or brand advocates) that they actually do your marketing for you by telling others how great you are.
Finding your ‘hook’, your differentiator, your point of difference, your USP, whatever you want to call it, is time and money well spent.
Here are the Opendoorz four golden rules to developing your USP:
#1 Make it personal.
Say you are a bakery, there might be other bakeries in the same street or town as you. You all sell, essentially, the same product. So why should people buy their bread from you? Well… because of you. You are the architect of your business’ brand – what it stands for and what it represents to your customers. It doesn’t have to be complicated but if you can manage to get across something about yourself that potential customers can identify with, you’ll be in a much stronger position to become their provider of choice. It’s worth remembering that people still by from people, so make sure you can connect as much as possible on this level.
#2 Make it matter
Look at who your target audience is and what matters to them and make it matter to you too. That way they will be able to empathise with your brand. Regardless of what we all might say we all follow the herd and if your target audience sees their values reflected in your business, they are more likely to buy from you.
#3 Make it relevant
Try and see the marketplace from your customer’s perspective. Most industries and sectors will carry with them preconceptions from their target audience. For example, second hand car dealers, estate agents, builders…to name just a few of the most obvious stereotypes. If you think about this from your customer’s point of view you can begin to appreciate what you could do to make you stand out. Of course, they won’t all be negative preconceptions but by acknowledging that there will be some you can address them and make yourself stand apart.
#4 Make it specific
Having something you want rather than need is always more appealing. So, think about what your target audience wants from your product or service (think sizzle, not sausage!). For example, I take my car for regular services not because I love going to the garage and am particularly interested in the mechanics of my car but because I want a reliable and safe vehicle to enable me and my family to go about our daily lives. Talk to me in those terms and you’ll engage with me. Bore me about spark plugs and I’ll switch off! It all comes back (yet again) to really understanding your target audience and what makes them tick.
It’s a great idea to involve your team and colleagues in the process of developing your USP. Get them thinking about the times they’ve experienced great customer service and what it was that stood out to them. Then get them to think about your industry and try to identify some of the things that are good and bad about it. Finally, drill down into your own company and ask them about times when customers have been delighted or when maybe they’ve felt let down. Ask them what it was that went well and what could’ve been done better.
Getting valuable insights like this will help you to see your business in a broader context and understand how what makes your customers happy.
To turn happy customers into brand advocates is, more often than not, simply a question of asking!
At Opendoorz we regularly ask our members for testimonials and recommendations and that definitely has a positive impact.
Obviously, it’s more desirable if people promote you freely and without prompting and a good way you can help encourage that is by keeping on people’s radars (regular posts on social media, being seen at networking events, etc.). If your brand is at the forefront of people’s minds, they are much more likely to talk about to others.
So, if you want to make 2020 the year to stand out, get shouted about and get your business ahead of the pack, then spend some time early on thinking about your unique selling point. And if you want to get some inspiration from a room full of highly skilled and experienced professionals come along to an Opendoorz guest event. You’ll glean useful, pragmatic insights that you can take back to your own business. We’ve seen some incredibly powerful and business changing inspiration take place within those four walls.