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What you can do to differentiate your product from your competitors

Have you heard of USP – it's a wonderful expression that means Unique Selling Proposition (or position). It's something that tells us what it is that you offer that no one else offers. Quite simply, what is it that is unique about your business that allows customers to choose it instead of your competitor?

When starting a business it's vital to have its USP clear for yourself and, more importantly, for your customers (of course). Here are some tips on how you can work to be outstanding:

• Begin to think about what you can offer that no one else can offer when it comes to your products or services. What is the difference between your business and others? Are you better educated? Do you have more experience? Do you have better methods?

• If a client tells you that he/she can buy what you're selling for less money somewhere else - be prepared to show him/her what he/she gets from you that he/she can't get from your competitors.

• Emphasize quality, but show people how your quality differs from your competitors.

• Energize all your sales material with all the advantages that only you have. What can you offer that will make the customer get their wallet out? Ask your customers what would make them choose your company. Ask them this often.

• One thing that many people miss is to talk about what happens after the purchase. Write that down and give the note to the customers. Show them that they don't need to be worried about buying from you.

• Offer a refund if a customer is not satisfied - a proven and effective method. You shouldn't be worried that customers abuse the system to cheat you out of your money. Customers want what they buy to be good and 99.9% of all people are not really out to trick you.

• Try to find a gap in the market that your competitors have failed to see and fill. It's an easy way to be different.

You should never strive to be different just because you want to be different. The key is to see what your customers would actually appreciate if you offered, in terms of products/services that your competitors don't carry.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
You run a small business and you want to get ahead of the competition, but how can you give resources to marketing when you're short on time and the budget is tight? The solution is here! The 5-Minute Marketer is packed with 395 tried-and-tested ways to market your business in 5 minutes or less.