What do you think of when you hear the word “competitor”?
For most of us, when the word “competitor” enters the scene, all logic stays behind and we start dwelling on the frustration of the shops that are ahead of us.
But I'm here to tell you today: it doesn't have to be this way!
Your competitors are valuable to your business for many reasons but regardless of whether you use them or not, you still need to outrun them so you can stay ahead.
And how do you outrun a cheetah?
You learn to climb!
This is how you make your competitors completely irrelevant
There's a simple trick to climb up the business ladder and get those sales despite being the newest kid on the block.
It's called a Unique Selling Proposition.
A unique selling proposition (or in short, USP) is how we differentiate our product from everyone else's.
It's what makes us choose Nike over no-name china brands (despite being manufactured in the exact same place and conditions).
It's what makes us so passionately side with either Nikon or Canon but never both.
It's what makes us oblivious to some brands and be attracted like moth to a fire to others.
So what is a USP, really?
“The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.”
In simpler words, a USP is essentially the answer to the question “why should I choose your brand over your competitors?”
It’s what makes you unique; advertised and broadcast in every possible way so as to make your business stand out in a sea of other “me too”s.
A USP can be (and usually is incorporated into) your business tagline, but it's a lot more than that. It's the summarized version of why choose you, and it should be evident in every marketing message you put out to the world (in your product descriptions, in your blog, on your social media, etc.).
What makes USP so powerful?
According to QuickSprout, A unique selling proposition is one of the most important conversion factors.
A USP encompasses your promise to your customer, an inclusive invitation and a point of differentiation between you and your competitors.
It's literally the very first thing visitors should see on your page because it's what's going to keep them reading (or shopping).
Differentiating yourself from the competition will help you:
- Clarify what you're offering – with your USP clearly spelled out for you and the world to see, you'll know exactly what are the immovable objects in your business – what you can simply NOT compromise on and which new products you should focus on in the future.
- Hone in on your ideal customer – when you know what you specialize in, it's much easier to define a more niche ideal customer. If you do fitness for nerds, for example, you now know where you can find these people (video gaming communities, Star Wars communities, etc.
- Make your competitors irrelevant and help your customers easily choose you over them – a clear differentiation between you and your competition means that the customer has an easier time choosing which business they would like to support. For example, if I were a latino bride and I had the choice between a regular wedding planner and a wedding planner that caters to latino brides, I would obviously choose the one that caters to my specific needs.
- Sell more easily – if you have a clear offer to make, you know where to find your ideal customer, you clearly communicate with them in their own language and they can easily tell why they should choose your business, that adds up to an easy sale.
And an easy sale is what makes your business grow, exponentially.
What makes for a good USP?
A USP is clear, distinct, obviously unique and succinct. It should be a sentence or two in length, no more and it should take into account your ideal customer.
It's is not about being the best.
Being the best is near impossible. And even if you get there, the market changes so fast that you probably won't stay in that position for very long.
So don't try to beat the competition.
Instead, become the best at something no one else is doing,
And what I mean by that is, be different. Change the rules of the game.
That's how Michael Silverman got accepted to Standford.
You see, Michael didn't win by being the best or the smartest of the bunch.
He won because he focused on a series of environmental sustainability projects and earned a reputation and press coverage for his accomplishments.
Michael succeeded in drawing a lot of different attention to him, despite his mediocre SAT scores and GPA.
He became best at something new, and that made him stand out amongst 32,000 other applicants to Standford, earning a place amongst the 7.2% who were accepted.
Now, that… is the power of a strong USP.
How do you choose a winning USP?
- Do your market research.
- Find out what your customers want.
- Cross the path between what they want and what you offer.
- Answer the following questions:
- Why should I choose you over your competitors?
- What can your product or service do for me that others can't?
- What can you guarantee me that no one else can?
- What do your customers really want?
- Choose one of the USP categories below.
- Combine all of your answers into 1 sentence that captures the essence of why you're different.
Here are 15 USP ideas to make your competitors irrelevant:
- Ideology – could be faith based or just good will (donating to charity, etc).
- Bridal jewelry with a message from God (scripture).
- Krochet Kids – “We are a lifestyle brand & an innovative non-profit. Our mission is to empower people to rise above poverty”
- Longevity – your product can last much longer than your competitor's.
- Niche – targeting an extremely small group of people can make for a strong USP.
- ConvertKit – “email marketing for professional bloggers”
- Discworld Emporium – The jewelry for Terry Pratchett lovers.
- Intersection of niches – what's stronger than targeting one niche? Targeting the intersection of two niches!
- The planner that caters to comic loving moms.
- Nerd Fitness – for nerds who are interested in fitness.
- Farm to table – the sweater that is hand spun from yarn we shear from our own sheep
- The sweater that is hand spun from yarn we shear from our own sheep
- Dandelion Chocolate – bean to bar chocolatiers.
- Organic / green / vegan – adhering to these would most certainly gain you many fans, but it only works in industries where organic/green/vegan don't exist.
- The first vegan honey.
- Vegetarian Shoes – vegan shoes for the entire family.
- Rarity – if your product is made from rare materials, you need to strut your stuff!
- The hat that is made from wool that comes from a rare albino llama that only sheds its hairs once every four years.
- String Harvest – rare and vintage collector yarns.
- Curiosity – if you can make your product unpredictable, this USP is for you.
- A necklace that contains a special piece of the Bible which is a prophecy over your life, but you won’t know what it is until you get it.
- Sarcasm / humor / novelty – many people are attracted to this sort of uniqueness. Make fun of them, be overly sarcastic or come up with a novel idea, and they'll buy it in the thousands.
- The big-mouthed barbie that will talk right back at you.
- Customer Service – although you need customers to have great customer service, giving excellent customer service goes above and beyond solving problems.
I know of one Etsy shop who would manually track her outgoing orders and alert the customer if the item was stuck in customs.
- “I would define Amazon by our big ideas, customer centricity, putting the customer at the center of everything we do” –Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon.com
- Cutting Edge – if your technique, tools or designs are innovative, this one’s for you.
- Apple. Need I say more? :)
- Uniqueness – many shops think they can use “Unique Handmade Creations” as their USP and that’s just not true. But if you have a TRULY unique product it can definitely become your USP.
- Voodoo doughnut – where you’ll find voodoo doll shaped doughnuts, “gay bars” and other oddities.
- Cards against humanity – the party game for horrible people.
- Ethics – if your items are produced ethically (because you purposely choose to produce them in this manner), it can make for a great USP.
- Osmium – ethically, locally produced handmade clothes. The company places emphasis on its ethical production processes and the durability of its products, both of which differ starkly from most conventional clothing manufacturers.
- Timeliness – this works beautifully with products that cater to specific events – weddings, birthdays, etc.
- Fedex – “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” used to be their slogan and even though they changed it
- Market Gap – when your product fulfills a need that no one else does (or no one else does well).
- HANDandHIDE – shop owner Jeff tells recounts that when they started making iPhone cases, he found 17,000 results for iPhone leather cases, but quickly found that almost no one was offering an all leather case that allowed you to use the phone without removing the case.
This became their USP and the shop went viral soon afterwards, with over 8k sales in their 6+ years of business.
Now that you’re loaded with ideas and have a step-by-step system, let me know, what is YOUR shop’s USP?
Her favorite past-time is painting and making homemade ice cream.