When I first started my business many years ago, I found finding my USP, one of the hardest things to get to grips with. A unique selling proposition (USP) is something that differentiates you from all of your competitors. It’s what makes you so different or unique in a particular way that customers and prospects will opt to do business with you over any of your rivals.
One of the biggest mistakes you, as a business owner, can make is not finding something that makes you unique, especially in a very competitive market, where customers have an abundance of choice and where differentiation becomes increasingly difficult other than through pricing.
To survive, you have to stand out and differentiate in the eyes of your prospects. Your USP is what explains to the world why you are different.
The more clearly you can communicate you USP, the more you will stand out from you competitors
So how do you go about finding or choosing your USP?
Think carefully about opportunities within your market that are not currently being catered for. If you base your USP on these opportunities you are much more likely to be successful. Another way to look at this is, identify a demand that is not being supplied, and centre your USP around this. Examples can include:
Genuine convenience – such as instant availability, handy location and so on.
Large selection of stock items,
Longer than usual opening hours, or more convenient opening hours,
Longer than normal warranty or guarantee,
Reputation for honesty and integrity,
Personal service and assistance,
Privacy and security,
Another way to identify your USP is to have a good answer to the following customer question:
Why should I do business with you, instead of any and every other option available to me, including the option of doing absolutely nothing at all?
Another way of asking the same question from your point of view is:
What do you uniquely guarantee?
When you have a really powerful answer to these two questions, your adverts practically write themselves. When you have a really powerful answer to these questions, people will line up to buy from you.
A third method to identify your USP is to answer the following questions, again these questions are taken from your customers point of view:
Why should I read or listen to you?
Why should I believe what you have to say?
Why should I do anything about what you’re offering?
Why should I act now?
A fourth method of identifying your USP is comparing yourself to your competitors over a range of criteria, and focusing your USP around the areas where you score higher. The following table is an example of how you might set out your analysis. Score you and your competitors 1-5 on each of the criteria listed below, or add your own.
Ease of ordering
Speed of delivery
First understand the Characteristics that Customers’ Value – Evaluate your strengths and significant competencies. Take a good look at the features and benefits of your product or service and then decide what differentiates you and your business from the pack.
What services and/or products do you provide?
To whom do you provide these services/products; who are your customers?
What needs do you fill for your customers?
How big a problem you solve?
What benefits do they appreciate most and which do they actively look for?
What makes you better than other companies?
Is it the value you provide, your experience, know how, customer service, delivery speed and so on?
Rank yourself and your competitors by these criteria – Check on competition by reviewing leading trade publications, analyse newsletters and search the internet for news and trends about your niche, particularly social media pages.
Here’s another great tip: survey your customers to gather data.
Identify where you rank well – Take your top match(es) and use it to position yourself and your product in the market. Summarise the results into one compact, compelling, motivating phrase that will persuade your clients to trade their cash for the benefits presented by your products/services. Your significant product benefits and the way in which you structure your offering is your ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ or ‘USP.’
Once you have identified your USP, you need to think about the ways in which you can use it. These could include:
Sound-bites or elevator speeches
Marketing messages online and offline
Brochures or flyers
Keep your USP as the central theme throughout all your marketing, and through repetition you will become known as the business to use for that particular USP. Be careful not to try and be all things to all people. Selling to everyone is selling to no one.
When you stand side by side with your competitors in a publication, a directory or in a pay per click (PPC) advert, you have to have something that makes you stand out, to get noticed. There needs to be something that jumps off the page and smacks your prospective customers right between the eyes. One of the best ways to do this is to use “contrast“.
If you have the luxury of being able to use images in your advert you can make use of contrast in a number of ways using size, tone, colour, value, direction, shape, type, position and texture within your advert. The key to making an impact is being as different visually, to your competitors as you can be. If they are using bright colours, use black and white, if they are displaying a particular style do something that looks very different.
If, as in the case of PPC ads, you don’t currently have the benefit of using images to stand out, you have to make sure your wording provides the contrast. If your competitors are offering discounts, then you should reframe from doing so and approach it from a different angle say something like:
“No Sale Here, just great prices all year round.”
“We Don’t Need a Sale to…”
“Giving You the Best Prices – Order Now.”
If they’re not displaying prices, then you show prices, if they are showing prices then you reframe from doing so. If they are using lots of words, then you use less and make use of white space to stand out, and so on.
Using Contrast to sell
You can make use of CONTRAST on your landing pages or in your sales copy by using the rule of contrast – this is based on perceptual contrast and happens when you introduce 2 vastly different alternatives in succession. It distorts and amplifies the perception, making them seem to be more different from one another than they actually are. It works due to the fact that people need to establish a benchmark for comparison to make judgements especially in unfamiliar situations.
The passage of time reduces the effect of contrast. So timing is critical when using this method. The second offer should be presented immediately after the first to get the full effect.
The Door in the face close is a great example of the rule of contrast where a larger initial request is followed by a smaller request – the prospect feels they are getting a better deal than they were originally and are more likely to make the purchase.
A slight variation of this rule is the Comparison effect which presents an undesirable version first and follows it up with the sellers “intended offer” at the same price. This is often used by realtor’s when selling houses, they present a run down property first followed by the one they really want to sell, and at the same price. The prospect feels the second property is vastly superior in comparison to the first, and so is a bargain.
Using CONTRAST helps you stand out from the crowd and allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors. It also allows you to anchor your prospects perception of value, helping them feel they are making a more informed decision.
Hope you found this article useful. For more marketing information, check out our marketing guide.
One of the most important things I’ve learned about Marketing is, you can’t and shouldn’t try to sell to everyone. Doing so means you’re not actually selling to anyone. The point is perfectly illustrated through the following tale:
The boy, old man and a donkey tale – don’t try to please everyone.
An old man, a boy and a donkey were going to town. The boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked. As they went along they passed some people who remarked it was a shame the old man was walking and the boy was riding. The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.
Later, they passed some people that remarked: “What a shame, he makes that little boy walk.” They then decided they both would walk!
Soon they passed some more people who thought they were stupid to walk when they had a decent donkey to ride. So, they both rode the donkey.
Now they passed some people that shamed them by saying how awful to put such a load on a poor donkey. The boy and man said they were probably right, so they decided to carry the donkey. As they crossed the bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and he fell into the river and drowned.
The moral of the story? In Marketing, if you try to please everyone, you might as well… Kiss your ass good-bye.
Instead of marketing to everyone, look to focus your marketing to a particular customer profile, who buys a particular product from you, maybe for a particular purpose. For example, mobile phones are a “must have” these days but who would be a typical customer for a mobile phone, and why might they look to make a purchase?
If I think about myself, a middle aged man, I want a phone to be functional by allowing me to make calls when I need to (network coverage), and offer a good payment plan (cost and value). I rarely purchase anything from the internet on my phone, so that is not one of my considerations when making a purchase. So in summary my buying criteria for a phone purchase would be:-
Connectivity (phone and internet works when I want it to, which I guess would be a universal requirement)
Payment plan deal – value for money
Cost and affordability
My buying decision doesn’t consider:-
How the phone looks
How well it plays games
How many text messages I get with it (I hate texting)
Internet access and social media connectivity (although I am finding myself spending more and more time doing these)
All the technology info ( I don’t care how it works, just that it does)
So if marketing to someone like me, Companies would have to make sure their marketing ticks my buying criteria. If instead they talk about how the phone looks and feels, and how well games play on it etc, then they are not appealing to me in any way.
If on the other hand they were marketing to my 12 year old daughter they would have to aim for a whole different buying criteria, where style and brand would be very important factors, as would texting and social media functionality
To further complicate the point, what if I am buying for my daughter as a gift. The phone company would have to consider my buying criteria as well as my daughters in this instance. They would have to appeal to my money consciousness, security issues, and my concerns about her ability to make calls in an emergency, while still providing the style my daughter would demand.
So it’s important to know who you’re trying to sell to and focus on them.
Is it a parent searching for a phone for their child? (security, able to make calls in emergency), is it the child searching for themselves? (functionality, popularity of model, visual appeal), is it a geek buying a phone? (technical specifications). Each would need to be targeted differently. Speak to each in their language.
Hope you get something from this article, check out our marketing guide for more information.
There needs to be at least two parties involved in the persuasion process, these being the…
Sender of message
Receiver of message
For the purpose of this article, we are going to look at how persuasion is used within MARKETING although it is used in many other real world situations, with good or bad intentions. One of the best ways to protect yourself from its influence, is AWARENESS. If you know how it works, you can defend yourself against it.
As Marketers we are, in our role as “sender of message” ultimately hoping to persuade the “receiver” to buy our product, there are a number of ways we can do this. The bare bone approaches being:
If we have power over the receiver we can use this to pressure them to buy. Power can come from..
Using your authority, if you have it,
The lack of options open to the receiver (no substitutes or alternatives available),
If receiver is desperate,
The scarcity of time to make the decision.
The receiver may feel their hand being forced, which might well lead to a feeling of resentment and resistance and is not likely lead to any kind of ongoing relationship, loyalty and bonding between the receiver and sender. I personally, don’t like to be pushed, manipulated or forced into buying, and I’m sure most people feel the same.
Hard sales tactics are often used by the sender, when trying to invoke some level of control over the receiver, and are common in the following circumstances:
When PRODUCT is temporary, limited use, or one-time use: fads, fashions, entertainments, seasonal clothing, equipment, perishable foods, collectables
When SELLER is temporary: door-to-door selling, telephone solicitations (“boiler room”), fly-by-night operations (“one shot”), con games (“pigeon drop”)
When BUYER is temporary, that is, in an unfamiliar area or condition: tourist, travelers, newcomers, inexperienced, immature
When a sense of CRISIS exits (a real or imaged emergency, time limit, or deadline): pain, genuine close-outs, elections, TV “shopping clubs”
When GUARANTEE (refund, or return of goods) is missing: unknown companies, “fronts”
When DEMAND exceeds SUPPLY: SURPLUS situations
Let’s look at a couple of real life examples: Some caravan parks limit the maximum age of caravans on their site, to say, 10 years old and then force caravan owners to buy a replacement new caravan from them, rather than from 3rd party suppliers.
Cinemas often discourage or even stop customers bringing their own refreshments into their venue, so they have to buy them from the foyer, at inflated prices. This control is enforced by the venue as a condition of using its facilities.
“Convincing” the receiver of your message to take a particular course of action, takes more effort than the “control” method, but is more ethical and rewarding. Getting attention is the first objective, followed by, creating a convincing argument that promotes your case and negates the alternatives. This is illustrated in Professor Hugh Ranks “Intensify and Downplay schema (see below).
If we present a clear cause and effect appeal to the receiver we will find our message more readily accepted from a rational perspective. So we must communicate the benefits and features of our offering and answer any objections that the receiver will inevitably have.
However emotional appeals have proven to yield better results because receivers engage the right-side of their brain more when emotionally aroused, as a result, they think less rationally, and are prone to act without thinking it through fully.
Intensify and Downplay Schema
Professor Hugh Rank’s model of persuasion, describes how promisers (marketers) intensify their own good and downplay their own bad. This model shows how marketers only tell receivers of product benefits using composition, association and repetition, But downplay any negative aspects by omitting this information, diverting attention away from it or trying to confuse. If you want to learn more about Hugh Rank’s model check it out here.
Pros, cons and objection handling
When I’m putting together a marketing message I look at the pros and cons of the product and note each down. I view the “cons” as possible objections and try to answer these objections, turning them into positives where possible. I also look at the benefits of using the product compared to not using it. Here is an example I have done recently for Thrive Landing page WordPress plugin to illustrate the process I use myself.
Positive/pros/for – ask why would they want to buy the product and keep asking why to dig deeper
No coding needed – drag and drop
No design skills needed – pre-defined templates
One off fee – No monthly recurring cost
One interface for website and thrive themes – within WordPress site
Professional looking landing pages
Better than many of competition because no subscription needed
Great support – fast replies via online forum
Lots of tutorial videos provided by Thrive themes
Negative/cons/against/objections (Turn these into positives where possible using law of opposites)
It isn’t free and costs $49 – better than having to pay monthly subscriptions like some of the popular alternatives such as Leadpages.
Negatives if not using product
Need to get a designer to do for you or learn HTML and have good design skills
Other options seem to include monthly subscription charges which mean when you stop paying you can no longer use the landing pages, with Thrive there are no monthly costs anyway, but the landing pages are built into your WordPress site so can be used forever.
With some suppliers you have to login to a remote interface to access your landing page editor
If you’re doing the HTML yourself and if you don’t have any coding skills these can be time consuming, look amateurish, and have limited template options
From this information I can now sell the benefits of the products
If you’ve done any marketing in the past, you’ll know about selling the benefits of your product. Getting these benefits over to receivers as early as possible is crucial to marketing effectiveness. Benefit seeking is the main driver of customer motivation. If receivers (customers) are looking for investment opportunities, their main motivation is “making money” or “preserving the value of their money”. So if you’re selling an investment product of any kind you need to communicate the making money aspect of your offer to appeal to the receiver of that message.
It is important to get the product benefits over to the receiver as early as possible, so it grabs their attention. The first thing a receiver sees on most marketing material, is usually the initial headline. Some examples of good headlines include:
You’ll never have Y (without X)
• You’ll never make money from your website (without having professional landing pages)
Buy X to achieve Y
• Buy Thrive Landing pages and make money from your website
How to achieve Y with less effort/cost/time
• How to make money from your website with less effort, cost and time
The Only Way to [Do Something Desirable] Without [Doing Something Undesirable]
• The Only Way to build landing pages Without learning to code HTML
[Do Something Hard] in [Period of Time] or [Promise]
• Make stunning landing pages in minutes or get your money back
[Do Something Desirable] Like [an Expert] Without [Something Expected & Undesirable]
• Make stunning landing page like a marketing expert – without any design or coding skills
• How to Win Friends and Influence People
• How to Save Time and Get Things Done
• 7 Reasons Why List Posts Will Always Work
• 10 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Living
• Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of High Blood Pressure?
Who Else Wants [blank]?
• Who Else Wants a Great WordPress Theme?
• Who Else Wants a Higher Paying Job?
The Secret of [blank]
• The Secret of Successful Podcasting
• The Secret of Protecting Your Assets in Litigation
Little Known Ways to [blank]
• Little Known Ways to Save on Your Heating Bill
• Little Known Ways to Hack Google’s Gmail
Get Rid of [problem] Once and For All
• Get Rid of Your Unproductive Work Habits Once and For All
• Get Rid of That Carpet Stain Once and For All
Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]
• Here’s a Quick Way to Get Over a Cold
[Do something] like [world-class example]
• Speak Spanish Like a Diplomat
• Party Like Paris Hilton
See How Easily You Can [desirable result].
• See How Easily You Can Learn to Dance This New Way.
• See How Easily You Can Own a Lamborghini Miura.
This is the hardest of the three ways to persuade. Attempting to convert someone’s beliefs and values is really difficult because people hold them tightly and often associate their very being with deeply ingrained value and belief systems. If you’re message contradicts such values and beliefs you will need to provide hard factual evidence to back-up your message to have any chance of converting the receiver. However not all values and beliefs are made equal, and we may convert some, using emotional appeals that do not need complex reasoning to back them up.
The role of Emotions
Emotion makes people act in irrational ways and prevents them thinking clearly, and marketers know this and attempt to use it to their advantage. Many big organisations with vast marketing budgets look to get some incite into their customers inner workings, finding out what they like and dislike and what presses their buttons. They track shopping habits and develop marketing messages designed to get them to take action. Even small businesses need to have an understanding of who their customers are and what they want. The easiest way to do this is carry out surveys, hang out where prospects hang out, ask existing customers for feedback and run test campaigns online offering searchers a choice between options and measuring what choices they take.
Many large companies try to associate their products with popular celebrities, hoping some of that popularity will rub off on their brand. They know that if our idol tells us it’s good, we are more likely to act on their endorsement. On the flip side, if a celebrity encounters controversy, brands are quick to cut ties, and end sponsorship deals so that they are not cast in the same negative light.
If people are made to feel fearful that their family might be in danger, they are more likely to buy a security system, if they are scared their family will be left to struggle if they were to die, they are more likely to buy life insurance. If someone describes how we can live life on a sunny beach, having an amazing time with our families and have no money worries ever again, working a job that takes just thirty minutes a day, simply by reading a $99 Ebook, or joining the latest magic money making system, yes you got it, we will buy the Ebook, if we believe what we are being told.
The emotions of greed and fear are the most often targeted ones, but other emotions like curiosity are often used to pull the reader into marketing messages.
“Check out the one plugin that will turn your website into a money making machine”,
“If you’re not enjoying success online, this is the one thing you NEED to become a success”,
“What Everybody Ought to Know About making money online”.
People are very curious creatures, it is hard-wired into the human psyche and it’s very difficult to ignore curiosity laden statements or headlines. However the subject needs to be relevant to the interests of the reader. or it won’t work.
Persuasion is a fascinating subject, and the more that is understood about human psychology the more sophisticated the marketing messages will undoubtedly become. The key points to remember are:
Have a clear understand of who your customer’s are or are likely to be
Craft marketing messages from your customer’s point of view (what’s in it for me)
Sell the Benefits of your product, this is the core reason for them to buy
Pre-suppose their objections and tackle these head on
Find an answer to this prospects question “Why should I do business with you, instead of any and every other option available to me, including the option of doing absolutely nothing at all?”
Try to evoke emotion from your prospects to take action NOW
Add value, don’t try to manipulate your audience, try to persuade them that doing business with you is a win win situation, and make sure you mean it.
Manage expectations – Disappointment is based on expectations. Under promise and over deliver.
If you would like to learn more about marketing, check out our marketing guide.
Marketing is a subject close to my heart, mainly because it taps deeply into human psychology, and I love trying to figure people out.
The trouble with marketers is they try to game the system all the time, trying to find shortcuts and quick wins, which often means being content with making a quick buck and lacking any kind of long game.
I like marketing when it is used to make people aware of genuine solutions to genuine problems, I like it when it’s used to help people. “The best form of selling is helping.”
Adding value to someones life, and earning something for doing so, means you get to help someone else. That’s the best use of marketing, long term.
So if we are to distil Marketing down to its core, what is it?
Is it the exchange of value? Well “no”, the actual sales transaction is the value exchange, you provide a service or product and the customer pays you for it. Until that happens there is no value exchange.
So what is marketing at its core? How about, the getting and keeping of attention. Sure, good marketing does that, but there’s much more to it then just that, like knowing how to capture attention by targeting the right prospects, and understanding what they want and need. Digging even deeper, we have to understand what prospects will value enough to part with their hard earned money, for. It becomes a rabbit hole of tunnels that are hard to summarise.
So what summary covers a more complete picture about marketing? Well, how about this one. Marketing is all about doing the following…
“Providing the RIGHT OFFER to the RIGHT PERSON, in the RIGHT PLACE at the RIGHT TIME.”
I think that just about covers the necessary basics.
“Providing the RIGHT OFFER, to the RIGHT PERSON” – infers providing something the prospect actually wants or needs and is will to pay for, rather than trying to sell to people that have no interest in purchasing your solution.
“In the RIGHT PLACE at the RIGHT TIME” – infers marketing at a location where your prospects’ attention is going to be, and at a time they will be receptive to listening to you. Much online attention is currently concentrated on social media platforms, particularly for certain demographics, and if that is where your prospect have their attention, you should be there as well.
I would also add a couple of additional points, like giving prospects a reason to TRUST you, to LIKE you and see you as a CREDIBLE provider, but these only come into play once you do the other things RIGHT first and are a big part of your value proposition.
So what do you think. Do you have a better summary that nails what marketing means at its core?
“The marketing mix is a business tool used in marketing and by marketers. The marketing mix is often crucial when determining a product or brand’s offer”
The term “Marketing mix” was coined in an article written by Neil Borden called “The Concept of the Marketing Mix.” He started teaching the term after he learned about it from an associate, James Culliton, who in 1948 described the role of the marketing manager as a “mixer of ingredients”; one who sometimes follows recipes prepared by others, sometimes prepares his own recipe as he goes along, sometimes adapts a recipe from immediately available ingredients, and at other times invents new ingredients no one else has tried.
The Marketing Mix is made up of 7 P’s, they are
When we talk about the product, we are focusing on things like technical specifications or features, design, quality and packaging. Also including are things like guarantees and after sales service along with product range considerations.
When we consider Place and its part in the marketing mix we’re focusing on channels of distribution, promotional partnerships, stockists, location, stock levels and delivery arrangements and those types of things.
Price includes things like retail pricing versus trade pricing, special offers, instalment terms, general price levels within the market, discounting policies, credit policy and overall pricing strategy.
Promotion involves advertising, sales promotions, selling methodologies, advertising spend, advertising copy, media channels, and advertising schedules.
People involves any contact your employees may have with the customer from the CEO to the cleaner and everyone in between.
The Process goes right across your business from the pre-purchase stage which includes things like contactability and purchase options, through the purchase stage and includes payment methods such as layaway and finance deals through to the post-purchase stage and includes delivery process and customer support and complaint procedures.
Physical Presence includes things like premises, vehicles and staff uniforms and dress code.
So you can see how the marketing mix forces you to look at every aspect of your business and how it relates to the customer experience of your business.
Originally the Marketing Mix was made up of 4 P’s these being product, Place, Price, Promotion, but have since been increased to the seven we use today.
Use the Marketing Mix to gain advantage
Decide which P or combination of P’s is the most important and relevant to your business and heavily market this to keep the edge on your competition.
For example if you’re selling based on the quality of your service, this means emphasising People and Processes, if you’re selling based on “technology superiority” you would be emphasising the Products edge over competition.
Customer touch points
Identify the touch points between your business and the customer, everything your customer sees, hears, touches, tastes, uses or otherwise interacts with. Each customer interaction, contact or exposure is what is called a touchpoint. Use the 7 p’s to test these intersections and ensure your customers are getting the right impression about youyour businessand aim to build customer interest and loyalty, if you are not currently doing so.
The Marketing Mix and use of the seven p’s is a valuable tool and allows you to carefully analysis how you interact with your customers in a structured way. Aim to improve every customer touchpoint and market your business in a much more immersive way, not just through your advertising but through the way you do business and your business culture. The end goal is to make your business much more attractive to prospects and keep your existing customers coming back for more.
We as humans are constantly driven to avoid pain and as part of that drive we strive to “be” more. Western society has conditioned us to believe the more we “have”, the more we will be. So to that end, we constantly operate in accumulation mode. We love to buy stuff and businesses love to sell us stuff. At the heart of our desire to buy is this simple statement.
“If you believe there’s a BENEFIT in a SOLUTION, and you VALUE that benefit enough, and TRUST the SELLER you’re going to buy it.”
Think about the statement from your perspective, is it right for you, well it’s certainly right for me. So from a selling point of view, if we reverse engineer this and align it from a selling perspective we find the following:
Sellers should provide a SOLUTION that addresses customer problems or wants
Sellers should ensure they communicate a VALUED BENEFIT taken from the customers perspective, with regards to a SOLUTION
Demonstrate you are a TRUSTWORTHY SELLER and able to deliver on your promise
So let’s look at each in a little more detail.
1.Sellers should provide a SOLUTION that addresses customer problems or wants
“SOLUTION” refers to the product or service you are wanting to sell. It should provide a solution to a problem or want that your prospective customer has, if it doesn’t do this than it serves no use.
You can either create a SOLUTION to a problem or want that you personally have, or that you know other people have. Do some further research to establish how wide spread the problem or want is before investing lots of time in developing your SOLUTION.
Alternatively you can create a product or service and see if it provides a SOLUTION to a problem or want afterwards, although this does happen, I wouldn’t recommend it.
2.Sellers should ensure they communicate a VALUED BENEFIT taken from the customers perspective, with regards to a SOLUTION
So when you have a SOLUTION to a known problem or want, the next thing you need to do is market the VALUED BENEFITS of that SOLUTION to prospective customers. Write down all the reasons you think your customer would benefit from using the SOLUTION in order of importance starting with the most important aspects to least important. Now it’s important to be empathetic with your customers situation and point of view, otherwise you won’t get this right. It’s not what you think your customers “should” want or what you “think” is a problem, it’s what “is” a problem, it’s what “is” a want.
I would also list the objections your customers are likely to have and try to put a positive spin on these, because you will inevitably have to address them at some point in the buying process. You might have to work from a best “guess basis” to start but do as much research as possible going forward. The more you know your customers’ the better you can address their actual situations.
3.Demonstrate you are a TRUSTWORTHY SELLER and able to deliver on your promise
If you can’t provide some way of proving you are a TRUSTWORTHY SELLER you are going to have an uphill struggle on your hands, particularly if you’re selling remotely as with a website store.
Genuine reviews and testimonials are a good way of establishing trust, social media presence and positive interaction is another. Having a physical location helps people to know you are a genuine business, rather than a rogue scammer. If you’re new to business, give a sample of your product to people in exchange for some honest reviews and testimonials, just to get you started. Without trust people aren’t going to risk their cash with you.
This is a short post and covers the very basics of selling, but I believe all businesses should be working from a solid base, so it’s an article that needs to be written, because I see so many websites not paying attention to these basic principles.
Gary Vaynerchuk is described as a “thought leader” and “social media guru”, neither of which he particularly likes. He sees himself as a business builder first and foremost having built a $60 million wine business using the internet and subsequently a $100 million social media company. A lot of what Gary says isn’t new but he frames it in a no nonsense, high energy way, that engages business leaders and entrepreneurs alike. His messages cut to the bone, are frank, honest and on point. He builds his personal brand around giving value, so I thought we should include some of his messages for you to take insight from….
Ideas are s**t, execution is the game – we can all come up with ideas, but ideas mean nothing without taking effective action that delivers results. Execution comes down to talent. Not everyone is talented enough to execute effectively. This feeds directly into the next point
Improve Self Awareness -know what you’re good at and not good at. Face the truth and make progress from that perspective. Get help doing the things you can’t do and concentrate on what you are good at.
Bet on your strengths -Double down on them and punt your weaknesses. To be extraordinary, you have to be an anomaly. You ain’t gonna do that if you spend time bringing your weaknesses up-to-speed. You lean towards doing some things over others for a reason. When you’re good at something, it’s usually because you like doing it, and have tended to do it a lot, so it makes sense to keep doing it even more. The opposite is true of the things you don’t like to do. Make your expertise narrow and deep, rather than wide and shallow, stay in your lane, and delegate everything else if you can.
Bring perspective to your business -When the going gets hard, instead of fixating on the negatives, be grateful for what you have and realise things could be much worse. Gary imagines getting a call saying his mother has passed away, he says that although this is a dark thought, it grounds his reality and adds much needed perspective to the situation.
Work your ass off – If you’re in a job but want to be an entrepreneur, grind 5pm-2am to build something for yourself in your off time and, “Stop watching episodes of Breaking Bad” says Gary. If you work 9 hours a day, sleep 6 hours that leave you 9 hours a day to grind and hustle.
Stick to your DNA – Be true to yourself, be authentic, it’s what makes you, you and separates you from everyone else. It’s okay to admire others, but don’t try to copy who they are, be the best version of yourself.
Do what matters – Don’t get hung up on unimportant tasks. Micro manage or delegate, you decide. Most things don’t matter. Focus on what matters. Take right action.
Stop making excuses – Lack of time or capital are just two obstacles amongst many others that you will inevitably have to overcome but don’t use them as excuses not to do something. Lack of optimism is the major problem. Overcome the inevitable obstacles. “Lack of ……” are just excuses. There are a million reasons “why not” but just one reason “why” which is you gotta persevere and get on with it. Take responsibility.
Care for your Customers – run your business with your heart as well as your head. introduce “random acts of kindness” for loyal customers not just when they are leaving you. Find a way to go “the extra mile” at scale
Learn what motivates your customers – Understand what makes people tick and reverse engineering that so you can add value to them. Be empathetic, and really give a s**t. The customer is not always right but they are always the customer. If you want to take their money, you have to get out of the way, and do what’s necessary to close the deal, put pride to one side. It’s how you make them FEEL that they’ll remember you for. Technology lubricates word of mouth, and customer service is key to creating an experience that will be talked about.
Find where your customers attention is focused – Understand where your customers can be found. Attention is much more focused on mobile phones and particularly on social media through mobile. If you want to get your brand in front of those customers you’ve got to meet them were their attention is. Stop holding onto what worked yesterday, and realign to what is happening in the world today. Get out of your own way, stop resisting and move with the times. Two questions to ask yourself, “Where are your prospects focusing their attention?” “Are you engaging or telling stories to them there?”
Be open to change – Roll with the punches. Don’t try to hold ground. Don’t resist what is. Don’t fear change, embrace uncertainty, evolve, and go with the flow. When you try to resist the way things are, you hurt your business. Market in the present day not yesterday. Things are moving fast, keep up, or get left in the dust.
Be a student of behaviour – This point builds on the previous three. Study behaviour and react to it. Today people are spending huge amounts of time on social media, via their phones, however this is very likely to change in the future as a result of technology advancements, so you need to keep observing and reacting to how the market evolves as a result of these future changes. You don’t have to have a defined plan of attack other than “observing and reacting to what’s happening in the market.”
You must have TALENT – Do you have the talent to be successful, either by being funny, clever, creative, good at DOING something of value, KNOWING something of value, CONNECTING people. It’s the variable that either makes you and your content interesting or not. For instance, you can get away with a drab setting for your videos, if the content is valuable enough to the audience. Deliver something of value using your talent.
Use storytelling in your Marketing – if you understand what the consumer wants, you can then back track to get them emotionally there using story. When done properly it is an invisible influencer. We’re wired to tell and listen to stories. Stories lower our emotional barriers and allow ideas to enter our subconscious.
Embrace your uniqueness – Technology will inevitably take out the B, C, D players in many industries and niches, because they have commoditised themselves, but the “A” players will grow and take B, C, D’s market share. So concentrate on growing your brand. Be authentic, be genuine and don’t try to fit in, or blend into the background, or copy what others are doing, otherwise you will become a commodity (same as everyone else). Ask what makes you different? What makes you, you? Dare be noticed, and stand out.
Nothing happens overnight – It takes lots of work, talent, luck, and serendipity. to be “an overnight success”. Put yourself in the best position to succeed and take a long term view if you can, rather than looking for quick wins. Think Branding over “transaction marketing” for instance.
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An Elevator pitch is designed to describe your value proposition in a short one sentence summary that gets to the heart of the matter and opens up your audience to ask follow up questions, by making them curious to find out more. What it also forces you to do is completely understand what you are offering to prospects, as the quote above states, if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it enough, and if you don’t understand it enough, how do you expect prospects to?
To construct your elevator pitch answer the following set of questions:
Who are you? – I’m Mike
What you love to do? (what do you feel supremely qualified to teach other people) – Provide business solutions
Who do you do it for? – Small business owners
What do those people want or need? Run more successful businesses
How do they change or transform as a result of what you give them? -Have a better quality of life
Now put this all together into a sentence – “I’m Mike, I provide business solutions to small business owners so they can run more successful businesses, and have a better quality of life”
Only the first 2 are about yourself the others are about other people. The most successful people focus on other people.
When answering “What do you do?” answer by starting with the last point “I help small business owners enjoy a better quality of life”, this opens up the conversation and begs a follow up question.
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One of the first things I learned in business was the principle of adding value. Adding value is about bringing something to the table that customers will pay you for. In business it can involve adding convenience, by saving your customers’ time, money, resources, energy.
It can be closer-to-hand, on-demand, just-in-time. It can make things easier for customers, saving them effort, worry, frustration. It can provide them with expertise and knowledge to help them get better results. It can help people get closer to their goals by increasing efficiency, motivation and productivity or help them be more effective in their goal seeking. It can help them solve problems, such as medicines do for the ill, or losing weight, being healthier and fitter, or unblocking bottle necks from their production processes. It can make people feel better about themselves by adding prestige and luxury to their lives. Adding value can involve increasing quality, reliability, durability to something they purchase.
List of value added characteristics
Newness – satisfying an entirely new set of needs that customers previously didn’t perceive because there was no similar offering. i.e. cell phones
Performance – improving product or service performance i.e. PCs
Customization – tailoring products and services to the specific needs of individual customers.
“Getting the job done” – helping customers get certain jobs done i.e. rolls Royce servicing jet engines for airlines
Design – getting a product to stand out with superior design
Brand/status – finding value in the simple act of using or displaying a specific brand i.e. wearing a Rolex watch signifies wealth.
Price – offering a similar value at a lower price to satisfy the needs of price sensitive customer segments.
Cost reduction – helping customers reduce costs is an important way to create value. i.e. salesforce.com sells a hosted CRM application. This relieves buyers from the expense and trouble of having to buy, install and manage CRM software themselves.
Risk reduction – reducing the risk of purchasing products of services. i.e. for a used car buyer, a one year service guarantee reduces the risk of post purchase breakdowns and repairs.
Accessibility – making products and services available to customers who previously lacked access to them. i.e. netjets popularised fractional private jet ownership.
Convenience/usability – making things more convenient. i.e. ipod and itunes offered unprecedented convenience searching, buying, downloading and listening to digital music.
Adding Value in Relationships
In a personal situation, adding value can be done through friendship, by supporting, listening, understanding, caring, encouraging, not putting friends down or making fun of them, or defending them when someone else does. Being fun to be around, and adding to others’ lives rather than taking away from them. Friendships are about connecting emotionally, being empathetic, and authentic. Keeping your word, keeping a secret when you are asked to. It’s about giving them your time, attention, your love and sincerity.
Adding Value for Strangers
Add value to strangers by smiling at passers-by and saying hello, being considerate, friendly, courteous, pleasant. Holding a door open for someone struggling with shopping, letting someone go in front of you when you can see that they are rushing.
The Bottom Line
At the most basic level, adding value is about adding something of value to another person’s life. No matter how large or small that value may be. It’s about making people feel better about their lives even just a moment of their life. Move them towards a better state of being. Move them away from worry, pain, frustration, unfulfilled, disappointment, feeling conflicted, angry, useless, resentful, dissatisfied, struggle, lack of.., limited, confused and towards pleasure, love, completeness, success, their goal, wealth, the realisation of something, triumph, progress, accomplishment, expansion, abundance, freedom, a breakthrough, a work-around, to survive or even thrive. Go out into the world and make it a better place for yourself and others by being a giver and not just a taker.
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Add Value Quotes
“Stop Selling, Start Helping.” – Zig Ziglar
“My mission is to add value. My attitude is of active curiosity, and my method is through relationships of trust.”
“Key to wealth: Provide more value than anyone else.”
“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” Albert Einstein
“I learned the value of hard work by working hard.” – Margaret Mead
“Add value to everyday. Sharpen your skills and your understanding.”
“If your presence doesn’t add value, your absence won’t make a difference.” – Zero Dean
“Find your passion, learn how to add value to it, and commit to a lifetime of learning.” – Ray Kurzweil
“Smiles ADD VALUE to our face, love ADDS VALUE to our heart, respect ADDS VALUE to our behaviour and friends and family ADD VALUE to our life.”
“The more value you add to the lives of others, the more valuable you become.” – Hal Elrod
“Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” – Warren Buffett
“Strive not to be a success, strive instead to be of value.” – Albert Einstein
“innovation is change that unlocks new value.” – Jamie Notter
“Never waste your feelings on people who don’t value them.”
“You add value to people when you value them.” – John C. Maxwell
“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
“Be the type of energy that no matter where you go, you always add value to the spaces and lives around you.”
“Once you realize your worth, it will be easy to get go of those that don’t.”