Building A Powerful USP That Gives You An Advantage
When it comes to increasing conversion rates with your eCommerce store, it is important to clearly communicate to customers why they should purchase from your website.
This messaging is called your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
The term USP originally was coined by E. Jermone McCarthy is his book Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach and has become a cornerstone marketing strategy for growing your business. In fact, how well you clearly define and communicate your USP will be the major indicator determining the long-term success of your business.
Once you realize the importance of your USP, the question becomes: how to define your USP?
The best ways I have found to help clients clarify their USP is to have them answer the following question:
Why should a customer purchase from you instead of purchasing from your competitor OR not purchasing at all?
These are actually two different questions that need to be answered separately and it is important to note the difference.
Why Should A Customer Purchase From You?
If you are selling widgets, chances are other companies are also selling the same or similar widgets. The chances are also pretty good that someone is selling more widgets than you are selling, and do you know why?
Stop and think about it for a minute….
You may answer that they started selling their widgets earlier than you or perhaps they have better advertising, or they have better pricing. These all could be true, but the main factor is that they have done a better job defining their USP.
Remember the Results Triangle we previously discussed.
There are 3 sides: Process, Proposition and Prospect.
Reasons such as a better website or pricing or images are all apart of the Process, but here we want to look at the Proposition and defining the USP that is the centerpiece of your ‘Proposition’, and it deserves your utmost attention.
The first step is to determine how you currently defining your USP. To do this, you need to take a concentrated look at your website, not as the business owner or head of marketing, but as a first-time visitor.
You also need to examine your competitors. Both those doing more business than you and those doing less. Trust me. If done right, this exercise can reveal the initial keys to significantly increasing your conversion and ultimately increasing your business.
On a piece of paper, list why a customer should purchase from you and why they should purchase from each of your competitors (ideally one bigger and one smaller).
It is important to be honest with yourself.
In the end, you probably have a list like this:
All of these are important. But NONE of them define or at least should define your USP. Instead, these are a list for commodities that comprise a solely transactional purchase.
If you don’t define your USP then you will always end of chasing and competing solely based on the list similar to the one above which especially includes price.
Again, it is important to define your USP in terms other than a commodity. It is your USP that will be your defining factor that sets your company apart from your competition.
Here are some famous and powerful USPs
You might have guessed. The last example is my favorite!
Now that you have seen some examples of USPs that effectively communicate and have been used to grow businesses, it is time to define your USP.
When looking to define your USP it is helpful to consider the following:
- Focus on your customers. Who does your company serve what is your target market?
- Root your USP in your business values.
- Highlight your company strengths.
- Position your company in direct contrast to your competition.
- Make your USP clear and concise.
Creating your USP will take time. You will likely need to test and then test again, but once you perfect your USP it will guide your company’s growth both externally by defining who you are to your customers and internally by defining who you are to yourself and your team.
Don’t Become Just Another One of Those
You may be saying, wow creating and communicating my USP is going to be a ton of work, there must be an easier way.
The danger of not fully developing your USP is becoming just another one of those. Just another t-shirt company, just another sporting goods company, just another whatever you sell type of company.
And today, in our transactional based world, you can’t afford to become just another of anything because that will make you compete as a commodity.
I have clients all the time ask; how do we compete with Amazon?
The companies who are asking this question are really asking: how can we compete with Amazon as a commodity?
The answer is you can’t.
Whether it is Amazon or another competitor, someone will either be cheaper, be faster delivering products, create a nicer looking website, etc.
However, if you develop and communicate the reason that customers should, no must buy from you, then that is infinitely more difficult for competitors including Amazon to replicate.
Building A Tribe of Loyal Followers
One of the biproducts of creating an effective USP is building a base of loyal customers.
A great example of this is Apple.
Have you ever met a Mac user? Or perhaps you are a Mac user.
Mac users only make up about 10% of market share of personal computers. However, they would never dream of changing to a PC. Why, because they identify with the brand’s identity. Apple has created a movement and by doing so has created a loyal customer base where they no longer need to compete as a pure commodity.
When I was purchasing my last car, I wanted a Ford Explorer. When my wife asked me to check out other cars, I refused and again stated I wanted the Ford Explorer. This left the only option as what color. And this is what establishing your brand identity and USP has the potential to do for your company as well.
Creating your USP is not easy. No one ever said it was. Creating a successful business is not easy and again no one said it was.
However, creating and communicating your USP is essential in today’s world. As we discussed, it is virtually impossible to compete (at least long-term) as a commodity in our transactional based world. Someone, usually Amazon, will come along and be cheaper, be faster or be more convenient.
By developing your USP that resonates with your customer base, you can effectively stop competing on price and start competing as a unique solution to solving specific customer problems.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.
He has been called the foremost expert in eCommerce Marketing Growth Strategies. He was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.