Question: do you know who your competitors are?
I’m not talking about those who are too big to be compared to you or those businesses who may be in the same business but who are serving different types of customers.
I’m talking about businesses that are serving the exact same customers that you are fighting to get.
Most of you will answer “Yes, I know who my competitors are.”
So here is my follow up question.
What makes you stand out from your competitors?
When I ask a business owner this question, they often give me one of the following answers:
- We sell better products
- We have better customer service than the competitors
- We are better than our competitors
- The quality of our products is higher
I have a problem with these answers.
Any business can give the above answers. A retailer, a clothing boutique, a consultancy, or an agripreneur – every single one of them can give the exact same answer.
It is hard to prove if something is better or has higher quality unless you agree on certain criteria to judge it.
The same applies to customer service. How many businesses do you know that say that they have worse customer service than their competitors?
You are better than your competitors? That is great, but how does the customer – especially the customer who does not yet know you – know that you are better?
Also, you are better than your competitor in what exactly?
There is a problem with using words like “better” and “higher quality” because they are not SMART and they are hard to prove.
More importantly, your future customers have been hearing these same things from everybody, including from sellers who have not always been truthful. So, why should they believe you?
Quote: If everybody is saying the same thing, then nobody is standing out.
In other words: if you are giving the same answers as your competitors, there is nothing that makes you stand out from your competitors.
This means that there is no reason for customers to choose your business.
Your customer wants to know, what makes YOU special? And that is why your business needs a USP.
What can you do that no other business can do as well as you?
Can you answer that question in 30 seconds or less?
The answer I’m looking for is that thing that will make your customers stop what they are doing and say, “Tell me more”.
It is the thing that will set you apart and make you so different from your competitors that it will capture your customer’s attention and convince them to buy from you. Or at least, to consider your business.
When a customer is considering buying from a business, especially if it is a product that is not very expensive, they will not always take the time to do a detailed comparison of sellers.
They will check you out quickly and check out your competitors to see if one seller has something that will tell them that it will be better to buy from that business.
If they find a whole lot of sellers who cannot distinguish themselves from each other, the customer will end up deciding that it does not matter who they buy from. They will then just look at the price to decide.
Because there is no difference between the sellers.
Look at the example of supermarkets where every supermarket is selling the same fresh fruits and vegetables. If there is no clear difference in quality, the buyer will buy from the supermarket that offers the lowest price.
More importantly, the customer will not feel loyalty to any supermarket.
The next time they come to buy, they will again quickly check to see if there are any differences between the supermarkets. If again there are none, the customer will again look for the lowest price.
This creates a serious problem for the supermarkets.
To win the customer, they have to drop their price. But there is a limit. If they drop their price too far, they end up hurting their own business. And besides, if they drop their price, tomorrow, their competitor may decide to do the same.
If this competitor has higher financial reserves, meaning that he or she can sustain the lower prices for a longer time, the first supermarket will end up losing. They may even be forced out of business.
All competitors suffer when they compete with each other on price.
Yes, they may win more customers, but these customers will be paying a lower price. The business owner will have to work harder to get the same amount of revenue and profit that they would have gotten if they had not reduced their prices.
There is an additional problem.
They will only retain these customers until a new seller comes to the market and also decides to drop their prices.
For business owners, competing on price is a negative spiral that can end up killing the business.
Unless you can find a way to set yourself apart from your competitors.
This is where the unique selling proposition (USP) can help you.
If you can answer the question “Why should somebody buy from you instead of your competitor”, you are changing the conversation.
You are giving your customers reasons to buy from you.
You are also making your customer more loyal because you are the only one who can do what you do. And you can charge more money because the customer understands the value of what you are doing.
Most importantly, you are setting yourself apart from all the other competitors on the market and building your brand.
Why every business needs a USP
Your USP gives your customer a reason to choose you.
It tells customers why they should buy from you instead of from your competitor.
But if you cannot explain to yourself what makes you special – why customers should buy from you instead of your competitor – how will you be able to answer that question when your customer asks you?
And believe me, every customer is asking that question every single time they go out to buy a product.
If your USP can clearly distinguish your business from your competitor, it will be easy for you to promote and sell your products or services.