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How to Identify and Make the Most of Your Business's Special Something

by Heather Reimer

How much thought have you given to what's unique about your ebusiness... its competitive edge? Many new web entrepreneurs are in such a hurry to get their site up and running, they breeze past this extremely important question.

Your unique selling proposition (USP) is what sets you apart from your competitors and answers your prospect's most pressing question: "Why should I buy from you and not them?"

Ideally, establishing a USP should happen in the planning stages of any new enterprise. But it's never too late to do your homework.

Why bother, you ask?

In a word, competitiveness. Ability to compete and thrive. There was a time when you could open a bakery or a shoe store and as long as it was the only one in town, you'd do okay. You didn't need an edge; you had a monopoly.

But for those of us operating in a slightly more competitive environment, our uniqueness becomes staggeringly important.

In my work as a website content writer, I spend a great deal of time getting to know my clients and finding out what makes their businesses tick. I ask a lot of questions but none causes more grief than this one:

"What can your product/service offer that your competitors' can’t? In other words, what is the unique advantage that sets your company apart?"

Some ignore the question completely. A shocking number reply that they don’t have a competitive edge, they’re just the same as everyone else!

And most respond with "customer service that's second-to-none", "the lowest prices", etc.

Cliché slogans don't make you unique, they make you the same... and that's exactly what we want to avoid!

So I'm going to ask you to do something you may find difficult and uncomfortable. I'm going to ask you to take a step back from your business and observe it from a customer's perspective.

Then ask yourself, "Why should I do business with this company? Does this company offer me something I really need, like..."

An easy-to-use e-store?
Unusually fast delivery?
Unusually fair shipping rates?
A money back guarantee?
Information about a subject I'm interested in?
A discount or a freebie?

Here's an example of a great USP in action. A personal coach I know wrote an ebook on how to succeed in life and business. There must be a squillion ebooks on similar topics out there, but she made hers unique and competitive by packaging it with three months of free consulting advice by email -- a terrific value. By doing so, she sweetened her deal and differentiated herself from all the other self-help book sellers.

Creating a product of outstanding value is a great way to create uniqueness. (By the way, it's okay to have several USPs because your business may have more than one competitive advantage.)

So... if you still think your company isn't unique in any way, it's time to create a brand new USP by asking yourself:

How can I help my customers in unique, value-laden ways?
What do my customers say they like about me/my business?
What am I most proud of about my company?
What can I add to my range of products and services that my competitors don't offer?
Go ahead... get a pen and write down your answers. But just remember, if your USP contains words like better, faster, cheaper, easier, or any other comparative statement, be prepared to back it up with facts like performance statistics, price comparison charts, testimonials, or whatever proof you have. Bold statements without proof are puffery and there's already way too much of that floating around!

Now you need to find out what your competition is doing. It might take some time to identify your competitors and evaluate their USPs, but it's worth the effort because it will reveal their weaknesses, which you can then adopt as your strength, your something special.

Finally, now that you've nailed down your special something, it's time to start splashing it around:

Use it in your promotional copy.
Add it to your logo in the form of a tagline.
Include it in your ads, promotions, and business cards.
Mention it in conversations with prospects and clients.
Add it to the signature file of your email program.
Make it the subject of a press release.
Above all, keep your business's uniqueness at the top of your mind. That way it will show up in everything you do.
And money can't buy that kind of promotion.

Discuss this in our Forum

About the Resource:

Suspect your web copy isn't working hard enough for you? Get a FREE website content analysis on your site, with tips to make your site more selling, compelling, and search engine friendly.

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