“Why should someone buy from you instead of your competition?”
I ask my clients this question all the time, and sadly, I rarely get a compelling answer. Most say things like, “I have great customer service.” Or, “My hours are really convenient.” Or even the good old, “I have X years of experience.”
The problem is these phrases mean little and rarely differentiate you from the competition. I file them all under the general heading SSDB (Same #$%! Different Business).
Because loads of businesses have convenient hours. And while you may have more experience than some, surely others have more experience than you. And these days, for most people, saying you have great customer service means nothing…you have to demonstrate it.
Unfortunately, thanks to the Internet, you likely have loads of competition. It’s super easy for someone to take a look at you and your top competitors with just a few clicks of their mouse. You can’t even compete on price since someone else online is always cheaper.
The thing is, if it’s not clear why your offering is better or different, you have a problem. Because if you don’t give prospects a good reason to buy from you instead of your competition—they probably won’t.
You have to figure out what makes your business, products, services or results better or different. Make sure it’s something your target market cares about or wants. Then shout it out in every piece of marketing you do. Otherwise you’re going to lose potential sales, clients and revenues.
In a previous article here on StartupNation (Transform Your Sales with a Killer "Unique Selling Proposition"), I talked about five steps you need to take to find a killer USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that sets you apart from the competition.
Today I want to share four additional ways to set yourself apart, even if you don’t think you do or sell anything that’s unique or different.
1. Find a Niche
Most people will choose a specialist over a generalist every time—and usually pay more too. So rather than being a general painter, specialize in interiors. Instead of being a life coach for anyone in transition, help people transition after a divorce. Rather than sell furniture online, sell only kids bedroom furniture.
2. Choose a Narrow Target Market
My chiropractor specializes in helping triathletes. I know a bookkeeper who works with only law firms. And a real estate agent who specializes in helping clients with pets. As a consultant, I’ve long specialized in small businesses with 0-10 employees. Doing this doesn’t mean you can’t take other clients or do other kinds of work. Chances are you’re going to get people from outside your target market (or niche) anyway. For example: even though I’m not a triathlete, I am an athlete. I love my chiropractor because he understands what an athlete needs to rehab injuries versus a couch potato. If you paint an interior and do a great job, the client may want you to paint an exterior too…
3. Create a Package
Instead of selling consulting by the hour, bundle a set number of hours with email consulting and sell them up front at a discount. Or combine a product with a service by adding in an ebook. Make this even more effective by giving your package a unique name.
4. Offer a Guarantee
Most small business owners—especially service providers—are terrified of offering guarantees. But they can be a great way to set you apart, and at the same time make prospects more confident about doing business with you. Besides, if you’ve got terrific products or services, you should have no problem standing behind them. As a copywriter, I guaranteed my clients results from my work or I’d rewrite for free. Dominoes Pizza got their start with “delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free”.
The bottom line is that if you’re ready to stand out from your competition, give your prospects a solid reason to choose you with a powerful USP.