Monday, September 18, 2006

Week 5 - The Total Experience, Unique and Clear

If you train your customers to buy from you because you have the lowest price and best service, your business will see (at best) mediocre results. Why? Because everyone else is saying exactly the same thing. Every time the customer needs your product or service, they will once again look for the lowest price and best service, which may or may not be yours at that point. WalMart can pull this off because they have massive scale – small businesses cannot, at least not long term.

Competing on price and service is a very hard way to run your business therefore you need to convey to the public how your business provides the best overall solution. A unique selling proposition (USP) is an old concept for describing this. When I say an old concept I mean that today, it is not just about a different price or product or service, it is about the total experience delivered to your customers. That doesn’t mean that having a somewhat unique offering is no longer important, just that it alone cannot guarantee your long term success.

When developing this statement, always think about that customer’s experience. What are people looking for? What are the trends telling you?

Encapsulating your total offer in a simple sentence, or group of words is critical – not just for the sake of it, but because you will use it in all of the marketing you do to build your business. As you develop this, test the concept with hard questions – include your employees:

What would you do to put us out of business? If you were to launch a competing offering, what would you do differently, how would it look and what would the extra benefits be?

Does it stack up? Is your USP really that different and does it address gaps in my market? This is a recurring process as in most cases your competitors will follow with “me too” services.

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