The internet hasn't changed everything about business. Price, quality and service still guide consumer decisions.
Before customers buy your idea over (or in addition to) another company’s, you must show them why your product or service is different and/or better. If you can show why you’re unique, you’ll attract just the right customers who are perfect for your business. They are the clients who will buy from you time and again, and continually refer you to their friends.
This point of difference between you and your competition is called a USP, short for “Unique Sales Proposition.” Here are five examples of how to stand out with a Unique Sales Position:
1. Better (i.e. lower) price
Typically, I don’t like competing on price. I prefer to provide greater value and get paid accordingly. However, when you’re just getting started and you’re not 100 percent confident in your skills, in behooves you to set a lower price point than more experienced competitors. Increase the value of your services and you won’t stay there long. Undercutting your competition will help get your first few customers in the door, then providing stellar work will get them to bring their friends.
There’s a reason why WalMart continues to lead the retail game. Everybody knows that their USP is “Always Low Prices.” Again, I want to stress that the quality of your work still needs to be very high. That’s key, since most people expect that lower prices equate to lower quality work. Blow their expectations out of the water and you’ll most certainly draw attention, recognition and a steady stream of new business.
Making your products/services more convenient for the customer to use or access gives you a huge advantage. As a society, we’re used to getting things not just now...but right now. I’m calling it the “Uberization” of the world. A few weeks ago, I ordered a FitBit to track my sleeping patterns. Amazon shipped and delivered it the same day. It was on my wrist by 7pm that night, just in time to start logging my sleep. You can take advantage of this trend by making your products and services simple to access.
One of my students, Micah, is a personal trainer. Rather than have his clients come to him, he makes the process extremely easy on them. Micah’s gym is mobile. He bought one of those old white vans and wrapped it in a giant sticker with his face and logo. Every morning, at your appointment time, he shows up to your door, pulls you out of bed and works you out. You don’t even need to change out of your pajamas if you don’t want to. All the equipment -- weights, resistance bands, kettle bells -- is in the van already. After your session, he provides a healthy snack. Because working out with him is so much easier than getting dressed, fighting traffic and dragging yourself to the gym, clients are flocking to him. He can charge increasingly higher rates than his competitors. Convenience pays.
3. Better quality/aesthetic
In my house I have two Macbooks, an iPad, a 27” iMac desktop, two iPhones and an Apple Watch -- and I don’t even own Apple stock. (Seriously rethinking that right about now).
I also don’t consider myself a diehard Apple fanboy. But I do love the way all my technology looks. Despite arguably slipping a few points every year in their technological advancement, there’s one thing Apple does really well: they make beautiful products that don’t break easily or often.
The quality and attention to detail you put into your products and services are huge factors in a customer’s buying decision. If it looks or performs better than the competition, I’m more likely to buy. That’s just basic human psychology. (It’s also a good way to pick a girlfriend. But that’s another article.)
4. Better variety
Did you ever see that Subway commercial where they touted that you could make over 1,000 different sandwiches? As an ex-SAT instructor, this irks me a bit as it’s simply basic multiplication of toppings, not an indicator of sandwich superiority -- but the campaign was highly effective.
In a world where everything is instantaneous, we want to get started quickly and the maximm amount of flexibility with our choices. If you can provide that, you can stand out!
5. Better customer service or guarantee
Most competitors in your space are going to have average or below average customer service. They’ll get back to people “soon-ish” but with no urgency. They’ll offer refund or exchange policies, but only ones that are designed to protect the company’s best interests, not the customers.
There’s a huge opportunity here for you to rise above and provide first class service and a better overall experience. If your competition provides a 30-day “money back” guarantee, make your guarantee 60 days! If they usually respond to clients in one business day, make it a point to respond to any inquiries the same day in four hours or sooner.
There’s a certain medical marijuana delivery service in Los Angeles that I’ve certainly never used. They offers service from 11am-11pm, 365 days a year. Even holidays. Their competitors are always closed or busy. Customer service, people!
These seemingly small tweaks to your offer are big in your customers’ minds, and really add up over time. In addition, they are free-to-cheap to implement, so there’s really no reason not to! It’s such a low hanging fruit if you want to stand out.
Daniel DiPiazza is the founder of Rich20Something, where he teaches young people how to start businesses that they care about and live happier lives. Grab his Startup Series -- a free "mini-course" designed to jumpstart your...