Take a moment to answer this: What distinguishes your product from similar products in the market?
You probably had several things come to mind; maybe your product is integrated, easy to use and versatile enough that it has many possible applications across a number of industries.
But providing a long-winded list of every feature and potential benefit of your product is a poor selling technique. Instead, consider forming a unique selling proposition or USP.
A USP is a succinct statement of what your product or service does, how it solves for the customer’s challenge and why it’s better than other options in the market. By zeroing in on the one unique feature, benefit or use of your product, you can focus your sales and marketing strategies for a more targeted approach.
Trying to pinpoint the one defining characteristic of your product can sometimes feel like choosing a favorite child. You probably love everything about the product, and you can see it for everything it is and everything it has the potential to be.
But in the decision-making process, customers have short attention spans. If they don’t immediately see the true value of your product and how that value benefits them, they’ll move on.
You need to take off your rose-colored glasses. Consider the strengths and the weaknesses of your product — and then ask yourself, which of those strengths makes the weaknesses worthwhile? If you’re struggling, conducting a SWOT analysis is a great way to get down to the nitty-gritty of your product, your brand and your unique position in the market.
Analyze your competitors' sales and marketing materials, and try to figure out what their USPs are. What is setting them apart successfully? What is most appealing to the customer base? Where might they be struggling?
Additionally, you have to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Ask yourself:
How are they actually using the product?
How does it affect their experiences?
What benefits do they reap from the product?
Why did they choose your brand over others?
What motivated their buying decision?
As the founder of Revlon once said, “in our factory, we make lipstick. In our advertising, we sell hope.” By focusing on what the product can do for the end-user, rather than the product itself, you can create more powerful sales and marketing strategies based on empathy and human connection.
After all, you can provide prospects with a list of product specs all day, but if you can’t quickly and clearly convey the greener grass on the other side of the buying decision, then they’ll move on to the first competitor who can.
Before I go on, it’s important to note that the USP is not the same thing as your brand. Your brand is created through the story, personality and values of your company as a whole — sometimes, branding takes shape without you even realizing it. The USP, on the other hand, is focused on the unique benefits of your product for your customers.
Regardless, you should be able to find some harmony between your brand, product, USP and ideal customer base. The most successful sales and marketing strategies occur when all of these components are working in tandem.
Once you’ve defined your USP, you need to make sure it’s present throughout every part of your marketing and sales process.
Use the USP to create alignment between your marketing and sales teams. When marketers understand how to position the USP in marketing content and salespeople can speak to it in a sales conversation, the resulting consistency creates peace of mind for prospects.
Even in the most saturated of markets, a strong USP can be all you need to set yourself apart.
Elizabeth is a former New Breeder.