Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
What message does your advertising send to the world? Does it resemble the following?
“Deeply discounted! Just please come in or call!”
If so, you’re likely in a crowded marketplace and have resorted to price discounting as your primary method for attracting customers.
It’s true that in markets that are filled with worthy competitors, a race to the bottom on price is sometimes hard to avoid. But avoiding it is the key to profitability. And done correctly, it is also the key to building a memorable brand.
Here’s a fact that annoys the stingy amongst us:
If price were all that mattered, the world would look much different than it does.
Lines wouldn’t form up and down the block for the latest evolution of the iPhone. Nor would the finest steakhouses be filled every night of the week. And you would certainly never see a luxury automobile on streets crowded with base models.
Price isn’t all that matters. Value matters.
Stop. Strike that last statement. Too many great companies and products with tremendous value lie on the ash heap of history. (A recent example? Google Glass. A more prehistoric one? Betamax video tapes.)
So let’s take it a step further:
Value matters. But what matters even more is how it is communicated to the customer.
In today’s world, you can’t honestly expect to get attention by marketing your company as the biggest, the fastest, the best service, etc. There’s just too much competing noise out there backed by deep pockets.
What every small business needs is a concise statement of desired results that your product or service can help your customer achieve. Those results will vary depending on what you offer your customers. They might be the promise of more free time, being better organized, being more attractive, memorable times with family and friends, or relief from pain…frankly, the list is endless. But whatever result you help your customer produce, it can and must be encapsulated into a value proposition.
I’m not talking about about a slogan – although it can be that as well – I’m talking about a unique selling proposition – or as I like to call it your Value Superpower.
Every business, like every superhero, should have one.
Allow me to geek out for a moment: The Flash is the fastest man alive. Batman is the caped crusader with really cool crime fighting technology. Swimming through the oceans surrounded by every kind of marine life at his beck and call? That’s Aqua-Man. Every superhero has a superpower that sets them apart from the rest.
That’s what your business needs: A proposition that distinguishes you from all others…A Value Superpower described in a way that leaves your competitors scrambling and your customers lining up for more.
This isn’t a new concept. The concept of a unique selling proposition has been discussed for years.
Marketing guru Dan Kenney explained the unique selling proposition succinctly when he asked, “Why should I choose to do business with you, over all the other choices I have, which includes the choice of doing nothing at all?”
Evaluating the message of your marketing can be one of the most important things a business owner can do. At the heart of all good marketing lies your Value Superpower.
A mentor of mine used to say all the time, “Differences Sell”.
Differences sell because they are what distinguish your product or service from an increasingly crowded field of “me too!” competitors.
Two great real life examples of this:
You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.
When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.
Both of these Value Superpowers catapulted their respective brands to new heights. Notice, too, that in both cases the propositions suggest that Domino’s and FedEx are not just the best at what they do – but also subtly imply that they are the ONLY company that can do what they do.
Without saying so directly, Domino’s seems to imply that If you order from another pizza place, chances are you’re going to be waiting awhile and it’s going to arrive in a lukewarm state. And FedEx, with equal deftness, suggests that if you send your package by any other means it might not get there on time. Brilliant. Value Superpowers in action.
A good Value Superpower is unique to your business, and it will clearly define what you do for your ideal customer while at the same time suggesting that your competitors can’t and/or won’t deliver the same experience. It will speak to the quality of what you do i.e. the superiority of your methods, materials and approach. It will distinguish your company by suggesting that your company, and ONLY your company, is capable of delivering the experience promised. Finally, the strongest Value Superpower appeals to the senses and/or emotions – the delight of hot, fresh pizza delivered fast or the relief of knowing your package will arrive on time are both highly compelling to a customer in need.
Here’s a few more well-known examples to consider:
15 Minutes Could Save You 15 Percent or More on Car Insurance.
Melts in Your Mouth…Not in Your Hands.
Goodbye Junk. Hello Relief!
In one fell swoop, Geico turns the idea of getting an insurance quote into an act of convenience and savings. M&M’s becomes the portable, delicious candy that isn’t messy. And 1-800-Got-Junk transforms from a junk removal service to the hero that will relieve you of clutter and stress. All relatively ordinary, commodity products that now suddenly have Value Superpowers!
What follows are six questions that can help you start flesh out your Value Superpower.
Think about them. Discuss them with your team. The answers to each question that seem the most obvious to you are sometimes just scratching the surface. Keep diving deeper until you reach that “Aha!” moment.
Who are your ideal customers?
What do you do? (Features of Your Product/Service)
What problems do you solve for your customers? (Benefits)
What emotional need is being met by what you do?
Why do your customers buy from you?
Who are your competitors?
Why do their customers buy from them?
What do you do that makes your competitors irrelevant?
Are there aspect(s) of your product or service that cannot be easily duplicated or imitated?
Go inside your customers mind and answer the question “What’s in it for me?”
As you develop your Value Superpower into a statement, remember to keep it as simple as possible. If you can capture all of the above and distill it down to a one or two sentence slogan, then you’ve done very well. If it run a bit longer but could still easily be part of the proverbial 30-second “elevator speech” then you’re still on the right track.
Once you believe you have developed it, try it out on a few acquaintances (friends and family are less likely to give you an honest reaction) to see how it plays. If they in essence react with an answer like, “Who Cares?” or they point out that your competitors can say the same thing, then you’ll know you still have work to do. What you’re going for is a “Wow!” or better yet, “Do you have a business card on you?”
Above all, know that your Value Superpower should be the guiding force behind your business. Deliver on it without fail because it is a promise to your customer about what to expect.
In your marketing, repeat it over and over and over until there is no question in mind of your customer what your business does exceedingly well.
A Value Superpower is how your business is saving the world in your own special way, one customer at a time.