Differentiation Through Unique Value
by Alfred Lautenslager

10 years ago, when choosing a business to start up, you would have never started a printing company or a Mexican restaurant. However these types of companies did start up. Some of them in that span of time have been super successful. They were successful because they did something different than the businesses that were saturating the market then. As a printer, maybe they offered marketing advice that no other printer offered. As a Mexican restaurant, maybe they offered 21 flavors of margaritas and giant-size fajitas, something no other Mexican restaurant offered. The point here is regardless of the competition, regardless of market saturation, if you offer something of value that is unique, you will succeed. In other words if you have a unique value proposition or a unique selling proposition your business will outpace the competition and be a larger barrier to competition than the barriers that were in place when you started.

Sure these businesses and all of their competition offer benefits in their marketing.

Many of today's products and services are so similar to each other that the only difference, sometimes is in a company's marketing. They try to woo new customers with jingles, special effects, gimmicks, freebies, sales and fancy production. One area that is fertile for creating a new competitive advantage is service. Take dry cleaners for example. There are drycleaners on many street corners, in airports, train stations, high rise office buildings, etc. All of them charge about the same price, do about the same job. But why would someone pick one over the other? I chose mine because they have a drive through window and will deliver on demand with a simple phone call. This, to me, the customer, is unique value; a unique selling proposition.

How do you find your best unique proposition? Many times a customer questionnaire will turn up many nifty areas upon which you may concentrate. Ask why people do business with the businesses they frequent. Ask what the ideal business would offer to me that would be unique and valuable. Ask what they like best about your company. Close attention to the answers might be pointing directly at unique competitive advantages that you and your company can offer. To begin to find your competitive advantage or your unique position, make a list of the benefits you offer to your customers and prospects. Of those benefits, how many are being offered by your competition also. Which ones do you offer and which do they do not offer? That is the start.

A Unique Selling Proposition sometimes referred to, as a Unique Value Proposition is what you and your company do that is different than anyone else in the business and the single most important reason you are different than any other company. Your Unique Selling Proposition is how you will differentiate yourself from your competition and why customers should buy from you. . It's the one reason consumers will buy a product even though it may seem no different from many others just like it. It may be that the product has a lower price or more convenient packaging, or it may taste or smell better, or last longer; any strong competitive edge. Other edges might be quality, status, innovative image, product features, selling strategies or in today's technical world, support.

Some printing companies differentiate themselves by being easy to do business with, on line ordering, being totally digital, in house design, marketing, etc.

A company usually positions itself to fully leverage their product or service and their market. Examples of where you see this might be the "Lowest Prices Everyday," or "The Best for the Best." The company's positioning and unique value determines marketing strategy, pricing, how the organization goes to market and selling. Only by properly positioning your company can you effectively differentiate yourself from the competition and maximize your sales.

Here is how some companies achieve a true marketing advantage through a Unique Selling Proposition:

1. Lowest Prices Everyday
Many businesses attempt to be successful by being the "Low Price Leader". How many businesses do you know that "quote" for their customers; that only have "bid" strategies? This can be a unique proposition for your customers but for you to succeed you also have to have the lowest costs. The probability of success with this one is considered low unless you are Sam Walton.

2. The Best Quality
Having the best quality is a great competitive position from which to market, especially as this is actually demonstrated for a customer and leaves no doubt in their mind. Better quality usually wins out over low price strategies.

3. The Only Place to Get It
Being the exclusive source of something that people want and need is certainly a great marketing position. It is however a very difficult position to achieve.

4. Customer Friendliness
As stated earlier, service is the one area where you can build a unique position quick and stay out front. This includes customer service.

5. Broadest Selection
Variety is the spice of life. Just look at Amazon.com. It is usually tough however for the smaller businesses to achieve this.

6. "Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back"
If your competitor gives a 30 day guarantee, can you offer a one year or unconditional or unlimited guarantee; something unique and valuable?

These are just a few ideas to build upon for your unique selling proposition. Some are single statements like above and others are truly combinations of many of the attributes described. Remember yours has to fit your company and offer unique value to your market.

The best USP is one that obviously addresses something in the marketplace that truly doesn't exist. Most businesses don't have a USP. What you normally here is that we provide price, quality and service. Guess what? In today's world those famous "three" are almost givens anymore. Offering those three generic items is nothing unique if everyone is out selling that. , They promise no greater value, benefit, or service -- just "buy from me too" for no special reason.

Most businesses, lacking a USP, merely get by and sometimes fail. Their failure rate is higher, their owners don't care, and their corresponding market share is small. The point is to focus on the one niche, need or gap that is most sorely lacking, and that you keep the promise you make.

Remember, the USP is the nucleus around which you will build your success. Clearly conveying the USP through both your marketing communication and your actual business performance will make your business great, successful and truly one that offers unique value to its customers.

Good marketing requires that customers see the rational reasons to satisfy their emotional and impulse buying. The USP is truly an integral part of the formula for business and marketing success.

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