We live in a world where businesses in every sector are at risk of becoming increasingly commoditised. The internet has opened us up to competition from around the world, and sites like guru.com mean that even service professionals are now at risk unless we can give potential customers a real reason to work with us rather than just going with the cheapest option.
What you need is a good USP or Unique Selling Proposition.
As I write this I’m sitting in the reception area of a national car maintenance chain here in the UK waiting for my car to go through its “MOT” annual inspection. I’ve been here two hours waiting for a job that should have taken maybe 45 minutes–particularly as they’ve already told me there’s nothing wrong with the car. It’s just that they were supposed to flush the A/C at the same time as they were inspecting it and they forgot to. Ho hum.
On the plus side, it gave me time to read a poster that sets out their USP—all the reasons why I should choose them over their competitors. Ironically, I had my laptop open, workign on the chapter of my new book about USPs when I noticed it on the wall.
Entitled “Servicing at (brand X). Why pay more elsewhere?” it tells me that they use specially trained technicians. That they have the latest Bosch diagnostic equipment. That their service schedule covers the majority of checks included in most manufacturers’ servicing schedules. That any components they fit are covered by a 12 month/12,000 mile guarantee, whichever comes first. That appointments are available 6 days a week. And that the price includes environmental disposal of all components replaced.
As USPs go, it’s pretty much one of the worst I’ve seen.
Why? Because most of it has no meaning to me, or just tells me that they’re meeting my expectations.
Specially trained technicians? That’s why I’m using a high street brand not a back street grease monkey. And I expect any other reputable garage chain trains its technicians.
Diagnostic equipment? So what? I know my car has a diagnostic computer on board an all they’re doing is plugging into it to get the data. And again, I’d expect this to be standard across all the major chains.
Covering all the checks on the service schedule? This is actually more worrying than it is reassuring. Surely they have to do ALL of them for the service to be valid? (Note to self: do not use this place for my service, which is due in a few miles’ time!)
Appointments 6 days a week? Pretty much every garage I’ve used in 24 years of driving has been open 6 days a week. Hardly unique
Including environmental disposal in the price? I don’t know, but I suspect that’s a legal requirement, and they’re really just telling me that they had to increase their prices to cover the cost when the regulations came in. If that’s not the case, then tell me!
The only thing that matters to me is the guarantee.
That should have pride of place, at the top of the list.
Instead its way down at number 4, and worse still it comes just after the clause that made me wonder just how thorough they actually are (“the majority” of checks on “most” manufacturers’ schedules. Gulp!)
And it doesn’t tell me what they are undertaking to do if I have to claim on it. Will they refund my money? Replace the parts? Both?
So, 3/10 must try harder on their USP!
USPs can be built from many things: guarantees,creating convenience for your clients, generating extraordinary results, skills or equipment that competitors lack, proprietary (and proven) processes or technology,meeting external standards, ...
And yes, the poster in the garage had them all, it's just that the way they were presented was weak.
What about your USP?
Think of the things that you highlight to prospective clients as making you stand out.
- Are they truly unique?
- Are they things that matter to your client? Or are they just the things that excite you about what you do?
- If you mention traning and qualifications, is it truly something rare in your industry?
- Do they reassure the client and take away risk (like a guarantee), or do they raise more questions than they answer?
So today's challenge is to figure out why exactly clients should choose you over your competitor. And make it about what matters to the client, not to you.