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Differentiation is one of the most strategic activities that you can engage in as a B2B company. When clients are faced with a plethora of potential businesses to choose from – what makes them want to choose you over another business?  Your Unique Selling Point.

Too many businesses make the mistake of trying to copy-cat what their competitors are doing. A lot of marketing money is wasted trying to match up. It’s not about matching competitors, it’s about defining what makes you different from them – your uniqueness.  It may take some soul-searching, but if you can take the time to understand your Unique Selling Point (USP), you will stand out from the crowd, your marketing efforts will be more targeted and you will therefore have a higher sales strike rate.

But where to start?

Your Unique Selling Point needs to clearly articulate the benefits of your product/service to your consumers. It needs to offer them something that a competitors product can’t or doesn’t already offer them. And it needs to be compelling enough to the customer, to switch them over to you. To do this you’ll need to get a clear idea of who your competitors are, and what they are offering.

A good starting point therefore, is to list the benefits or features of your product or service and then undertake a comparison with your competitors offerings. Highlight those benefits that your product or service offers, but your competitors do not, or cannot offer. It will begin to become obvious where your products are similar, and where they differentiate from each other.

Next, take some time to look at your competitors advertising and marketing material – be it websites, brochures, TV ads, magazine ads etc. Understand where they are positioning themselves in the market – what benefits are they pushing, what angle are they taking with their marketing campaigns. What do they believe they are best at? Obviously no point wasting time and money going head to head with them on the same sort of proposition. You need to ensure your proposition is unique to you.

This process should give you a clear indication of where your Unique Selling Point lies. Craft your USP into a short, concise statement. One that can be easily understood by your customers. One that you could easily communicate to them. And most importantly, one that you and your customers will believe.

Once you’ve narrowed this down, take time to investigate current market trends – both nationally and internationally to screen your USP. Is it a USP that is in line with where the market is heading – will it have longevity?

Remember price is important, but it is never the only reason that people purchase your product or service. Many other factors come into play depending on the needs of the customer. Take the time to understand why they would want to purchase your product – is because it is practical? Reliable? Glamorous? Convenient?

The most effective way to find out why your customers are purchasing your product is simply to ask! At point of purchase or at a follow up opportunity, ask them key questions. Can you rate our service?   Can you rate our product quality and reliability?   Would you recommend us? Why/why not etc. If appropriate you may even want to include an incentive to answer a short questionnaire eg go in the draw to win your purchase price back or win bottle of champagne etc.

The information your glean from this sort of feedback will be invaluable in understanding the real reason that your customers are buying from you rather than your competitors and also importantly, if they are likely to return again and again for future purchases as opposed to switching to a competitors offering.

These insights assist with obtaining clarity around your brand and clarity of the marketing direction required to achieve successful advertising campaigns and encourage customers to switch to your brand. The purchase process is often a daunting one for a customer. You need to take the hard work out of that process by clearly communicating to them the benefits of your product/service so that they can see the benefits offered over another.

Once you have formalised your Unique Selling Point – own it. Believe it. Communicate it to your customers via your website, advertising campaigns, marketing material. Ensure that all aspects of your business reflect your USP – including service, sales process, even the atmosphere or look of your store (if appropriate).   Stand out from the crowd. Advertise what makes you special, and encourage customers to switch to you.

NB:  This article was published in the EMA “BusinessPlus” magazine.  Enterprises of all types and sizes join the Employers and Manufacturers Association, for opportunities to learn and grow, make valuable business connections and change the world.  EMA provides its members with professional advice and training to succeed in many aspects of business.

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