It seems like it should be easy. After all, you know why customers should do business with you instead of your competition. But why is it sometimes so difficult to put that into words written and spoken so the rest of the world knows it, too? One of the most important things to nail down before marketing your business is your brand’s unique value proposition.
What is it about you, your business, and your products or services that makes you different and special?
Before you can respond with confidence and clarity, you might first need to put some concentrated and structured thought around answering that question. Start by considering…
The features and Benefits of Your Products and Services
Features and benefits are two separate things, but they are interrelated.
- Features are the physical traits, functional details of your products and services. As an example, let’s use a new local coffee shop…Features = Fair trade blends, specialty drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, café seating and coffee to go, open 5 a.m. – 10 p.m., wireless internet access.
- Benefits capture how those features help your customers. Back to our coffee shop example…Benefits = Early commuters finally have a place to get café-quality coffee, local business professionals can stay productive by working while enjoying a cup of coffee, customers can feel good about doing their part to support fair labor practices.
One way to get a grasp on your features and benefits is to think like a journalist. Ask yourself the following questions to get to the core of your brand and why people should care about it…
- Who? Who are you? Of course, your company name is important, but this question goes beyond that. Who will your customers interact with in your business? “Who” involves your (and your employees’) expertise, credentials, reputation, and personality characteristics.
- What? What products and services do you offer? What type of business are you? Are you a top-quality, top-tier provider who can charge a premium, or do you aim to be known as an affordable alternative?
- When? When did you – or when will you – start offering products and services to customers? Another way to look at “when” is to define the delivery expectations clients should have when they buy from you. How quickly can you provide your services and products to customers?
- Where? Where do you do business? What’s the address of your brick and mortar location, and/or do you do business online? And to where geographically can you deliver your services and products?
- Why? Why are you in business? Think about what has driven you to be an entrepreneur in your particular field. Why are you passionate about what you do? Why should customers choose your services and products over your competitors?
- How? How are you different from your competitors? How are you unique and how will that benefit customers if they choose you over your competition?
By using this framework for thinking through your value proposition, you’ll gain a clearer view of what message to communicate in all your marketing channels. The only way to effectively promote your unique selling points to your target market is to first make sure you understand the value that you offer!