One important factor to consider when it comes to successfully marketing a small business, yet one that is all too often overlooked is identifying a clearly defined point of difference.
Basically, a point of difference is the one competitive advantage that your business has, that your competitors do not. Once identified, you can utilise this point of difference to create a unique selling proposition that will make your business stand out in the eyes of your target market.
Small business operators should start by asking themselves two simple questions
- What makes my business stand out from my competitors?
- Why would a customer choose to buy from me as opposed to my competitors?
Many fail to answer these questions and, as a result, their only visible differentiator becomes price. Even though it is a well-known fact that once a price war begins, many a small business will find themselves in trouble.
A lot of businesses operate in very competitive markets where, although differentiation can be difficult, it is also at its most vital. In a market such as this, not many small businesses can be considered truly one of a kind, but there is always some distinctive point of difference in there that can be developed into a unique selling proposition (USP).
Here are a few tips on developing a sustainable USP
- Look at the market
What are other businesses in your industry doing, and how are they using their USP to their advantage? Then, broaden your search beyond your industry. You may just find a novel idea that you can apply to your business.
- What do your customers need?
Take a step back from the day to day running of your business for a moment and look at it from your customers’ perspective, and scrutinise what they really want from the products/services that you supply. What do they really like/don’t like? What works best for them?
From here, you might well come up with something really simple such as the pizza shop that previously closed only on Mondays – just like all their competitors. They changed this to instead close only on Tuesdays. Suddenly their USP was being the only pizza shop in the area open on Mondays.
- Listen to your customers
There is no better source of information as to why your existing customers have chosen to do business with you over your competitors than the customers themselves. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions and seek feedback. You may just be surprised what you might learn.
- Keep track of your USP
Once you’ve identified your point of difference, it is easy to fall into the trap of ‘set and forget’. Yet, by doing this, all the previous good work can quickly unravel, which can quickly bring a whole business to its knees.
That is why reassessing your marketing, including your USP, at regular intervals is also highly recommended.