What makes your business unique? Think about it for a moment.
Every business is unique in it’s own way and it’s this that will have people coming back to you for more. If you were to model your business on another entirely, then there would be no reason to use your business over the other one.
If you live in a town where there are several newsagents, but you prefer to buy your newspaper from one of them, that’s because you perceive them in a particular way. Perhaps you like the fact that they are more friendly than the other providers. Or maybe they are the only one that sells a particular brand of chocolate that you like to buy. Or maybe their shop looks nicer than the others.
Let’s look at this in another way.
As an example, let’s imagine that you want to buy a power tool. Many businesses sell power tools and each of these businesses has it’s own unique offering.
One business might offer an additional guarantee to every electrical product that they sell, another might offer free delivery and another might offer a particularly high quality customer service with demonstrations on how to use the products. Another business may sell every Makita power tool that is available, and another market their collection of every accessory that is on the market for Makita power tools.
If you offer the same qualities for your business as everybody else in the market, there is no reason for you to stand out and be the chosen one for a consumer. You need to find something unique that is appealing to your customers, preferably it is compelling and something that they feel that they need.
As you start thinking about developing a unique offering, or what is sometimes known as a USP or ‘unique selling proposition’ by marketeers, look at what other companies are offering even if they aren’t in your niche market.
Look at why you are buying products from certain suppliers, what is it in your opinion as a consumer that differentiates one from another? Why do you buy the milk or the bread that you do, what is behind your decision – does it offer something or represent something that you cannot find in the other choices available? Why did you buy that particular printer that you have and from that particular supplier?
Domino’s pizza has a particularly good example of a USP – they offer hot fresh pizza delivered in 30 minutes, guaranteed. So not only is it guaranteed to be delivered fast or you will get it for free, it is going to be hot and fresh.
Looking through the Yellow Pages is a good window into your competitors. If you go to the pages that relate to the businesses similar to yours you can view what your competitors are claiming in the ads. Stacked up against each other, you can see who is claiming what.
You can also find useful information in niche publications where your competitors are advertising or by looking them up on the internet.
Now let’s go back to look closer at Domino’s and their unique selling proposition of delivering hot fresh pizza within 30 minutes. Timing was of the essence as Dominos discovered the gap in the market for food that somebody else had made but could be delivered quickly to families, It gave mum and dad a break from cooking after a day at work and the children didn’t have to wait. Domino found that gap in the market and it has led to great success and profits.
Look at the market to find what need isn’t being filled by your competitors that you could offer. Look for performance gaps between what is on offer and what the market is asking for. This is another reason for you to stay right on top of the current affairs relating to your market and to read current publications and news stories. You need to spot a gap and fit yourself there.
Whatever you choose though, you have to make sure that you can deliver on it. That is a benefit of starting off small. Not being able to fulfil a promise is a fast path to failure. Your reputation could be ruined. It’s critical that you set yourself up for success when you get started. Start small and with a soft opening. Ensure that all systems are in place for your business to supply whatever it is that you are promising. People will not accept empty promises and would give your company a very wide berth, after telling people that they know, if you did not give them what you promise.
OK, so we’ve seen what your competitors have on offer. Now we need to look at your own product or service and see what unique features and benefits it has that will appeal to your customers. Your business won’t survive if you just offer the same old thing as everybody else in your market. Why would a customer choose you. What can they only get from you and not from anybody else?
What is that would make your customers come back to you time and again and ignore the competition? If you were running a cafe for example, selling fresh healthy quality food with a friendly homely atmosphere and good service could be what swings it over the competition. Offering a home delivery service could help too.
So put yourselves into the shoes of your customer and why they would buy from you over the competition who may be selling a product cheaper than you. Maybe you need to offer delivery when they don’t, or you need to offer a personal service or useful information that they cannot get from the other businesses.
Ask a couple of your long standing customers why they keep coming back to you if you aren’t sure what differentiates you. Tell them that you are looking at improving your service and you would like to know what it is that you are doing right so far. Or even ask a customer who has bought from a competitor why they have bought from them. Tell them that you want to know so that you can improve your offerings, they will most likely be very candid with you. Even if you are not in agreement with what they are saying, you need to accept the feedback graciously as this could be the golden piece of information that turns your business around.
Looking at why people buy from one place over others requires using a bit of psychology. You have to really get into people’s minds as to why they are buying and what they are buying. People who buy particular products are sometimes buying the luxury or the hope that is part of the parcel with the product or service. Sometimes these things are not even tangible.
Whatever you discover, remember that you will still need your product or service to stand out amongst the competition so that they try your company and then stay with your company. Oftentimes, quality and convenience can win over competition and it can even give you that answer to the question of what makes your business unique.
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