If you don’t acquire and retain customers your business won’t succeed. It is as simple as that. Of course there are some other things pretty basic to a successful business, like being able to satisfy those customers and make a profit while doing so. But without customers you don’t have a business.
You retain them by exceeding their expectations, doing everything you said you would do, and more. But first you have to get them. And that is not always easy.
To get them, your message has to get their attention, and that also is not always easy. You may well be trying to speak to customers who are not listening or have closed their ears, eyes and minds to the barrage of promotions they face every day. As I said in my last blog, customers won’t buy unless they listen to your message and be comfortable that your product or service will meet their needs.
In that blog I raised the question of whether the three tools used to convey your message, Brand, Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and Positioning are really the same thing. If you are to use them properly to win the prospects attention and convey your message you need to understand them. I was summarising a great deal of comment from a number of industry experts on LinkedIn (Ask Drayton Group) on this question in a very animated discussion.
I then looked at the concept of “Brand” in more detail.
What makes you special? What makes you different, in a way that is important to your market?
A unique selling proposition (USP) is a description of the qualities that are unique to a particular product or service and that differentiate it in a way which will make customers purchase it rather than its rivals.
Think of "When it absolutely positively has to be there overnight." Ring a bell? FedEx, of course. Is that a brand? No. But it also happens to be a tagline of theirs, and a right smart one. It spells out why they are different and superior. It instils the customer with a sense of trust and confidence in the product, and it guarantees the service. That's putting your money where your mouth is, and it's strategically setting yourself apart from the competition.
It is also an important element of one's brand. And when you think of a strong brand, you will almost always think of what makes them different, and better. Different and better, two different elements; both important parts of the message.
It is unquestionably true that if you can make a promise nobody else can, or one which other could make but haven't, and you make it powerfully enough, you may well benefit from it.
The USP is still the least used element in marketing today. Part of the reason for that is so many small businesses don’t want to be seen to be different, to stand apart from their industry, when to really prosper that is just what they must do. They want to follow the herd; it's not so much that they're dumb - many of them will be very intelligent. The point is that they actually like the secure feeling that they get when they know that everyone else is doing the same thing. It takes a great deal of courage to upset people.
And courage is the one thing that's lacking in our modern business world.
As all purchasing is emotional but must be rationalised a good USP will provide both comfort and support.
Your USP is therefore what you do, and why someone will buy it from you.
But remember, you are not only defining what you do, you are also giving your customers the phrases that they can say to their friends.
This is important. Make it easy for them by painting a clear picture in their minds, giving them to chance to grow your sales by Word of Mouth.
Uniqueness can be sought in a number of ways:
• By offering the lowest price.
• By offering the highest quality. This is the Rolls-Royce approach to selling.
• By being exclusive.
• By offering the best customer service. Domino's Pizza became the bestselling brand in the United States on the basis of its USP: “Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” It did not promise high quality or low price, just fast delivery.
• By offering the widest choice. This is particularly appropriate to niche markets. A specialist cheese shop, say, can claim to offer a wider selection of cheeses than anyone else.
• By giving the best guarantee. This is particularly important in industries such as travel and catalogue selling, where customers pay for something upfront and then have to hope that what they think they have bought is eventually delivered.
This is the other side of the USP. It is how you make sure you are appealing to the customers you want most, and avoid those you don’t. Where do you want your product to sit on the spectrum of customer needs? Where do you want to be perceived in the market place?
Positioning has to do with leading in a category; i.e., finding your niche. What do you think of when you think of Volvo? Safety! That is what they are known for, and they have led the safety category for a long time. It's not the brand's entirety, but it plays a major role.
Here are two examples from the same industry.
• "Quite frankly the American Express Card is not for everybody" positioned that firm very well and ran for 13 years all over the world.
• And "Visa - it's everywhere you want to be" did the same for Visa:
Dan Kennedy said he liked to be positioned at the high end of a price scale and have competitors focused on selling from the perspective of being cheaper instead of being better. If you have a distinctive position in the market and keep your customers satisfied you are more likely to survive difficult times.
After the product, positioning is the most important thing.
Remember, to get prospects to become customers you first need to get their attention and then to read or listen to your message. And your message must convince them that you can meet their needs and that they can trust you.
Brand, USP and Position are related and all have a role to play.
• Position places you in front of the audience that matters, real prospects. They are the only ones likely to listen.
• A well thought through USP identifies your real point of difference, why your product is uniquely placed to meet their needs.
• Brand ultimately about trust, they can trust you to deliver. Trust is not developed overnight. Brands must be built.
Have you thought each through and looked at how you will use them to build your business next year?
And speaking of next year, I plan to run a free webinar every month in which I’ll examine issues such as these. I’ll give you more details in January.
Do have a wonderful Christmas break with family and friends. I look forward to talking to you in the New Year.
To your prosperity!
© Copyright 2013 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective – except for the words from Drayton Support Group, which are obviously their copyright.
Some profit losses are pretty obvious - so you fix them.
BUT, what if you don't know profits are leaking, cash out the door?
Possible leaks could be anywhere.
Are there some clues or symptoms that are tell-tales?