The better way to sell online

What's your unique selling point?

The market is saturated, your competitors are thriving, and customers are buying products from all over the world. In an online market, knowing how to stand out from the crowd can be the difference between sinking and swimming.

But how do you stand out?

The key is to establish a unique selling position, or USP, to show your ideal customer why you’re the perfect fit for them.

What makes you stand out?

Create your ideal customer. Imagine what their day looks like, what kind of media they read and are exposed to, and which things they might appreciate or be annoyed by. Once you have a clear image in your mind, come up with a way to sell your product to them that’s more efficient, or just different, to what your competitors are doing.

This USP should then become a core element of your business, influencing your advertising, copywriting and products themselves.

For instance, you might be a newcomer to the juice industry. Picture that all your competitors are focused on low-calorie, weight loss products. A way to stand out could be to present an opposing position: for example, “We don’t care if your jeans fit tomorrow, our drinks taste good today.” Then, instead of focusing on an exercise/fitness-based marketing plan, you could present tongue in cheek, funny advertisements.

But being starkly different to your competitors isn’t always a sure-fire way to gain attraction. If you want your Unique Selling Proposition to work, you have to put some thought into it.

What makes a good USP strategy?

  • There has to be an audience for it.

As I mentioned in the paragraph above, a USP strategy should be built around customer needs. In order to be successful, there has to be a desire for it. Simply being contrary isn’t enough; but being contrary when you know customers like an existing product but not the way it’s marketed could be effective.

Really try to get into the minds of your customers! Predict when they’ll encounter your marketing and products, and hook them. Are they browsing on their phones? On their tablets? On their laptops? Are they on the way to work, or relaxing? A lot of strategy depends on how your customers spend their time, and how you’ll reach them in that space.

If your competitors usually only post images on Facebook, try targeting customers with a different social media site. If your competitors all use similar language, try to break the mould. The key is to stand out: and do it for an already existing audience.

  • Be specific!

Simply stating that your unique selling position is that you have lots of sales won’t cut it. You’ll need to take a stance that’s a little special: tactics like running sales work, but they don’t actually add to the personality of you, your brand, or your company.

Think of your USP as one of your company characteristics, and try to go as in depth about it as you can.

  • Avoid empty statements.

We get it: you’re quirky, you’re fun, you’re stylish or you’re innovative. It can be easy to take descriptive words and tag them onto your business, but unless you’re putting them into practice you’ll find your promises run hollow.

A USP shouldn’t be just an afterthought; it should be a real genuine strategy. It could have to do with your product, or your return policy, or your supply chain, or your marketing, or the way your product works. No matter what your unique selling point is, at the end of the day, it needs to be backed up by action and policy.

Why less is more.

It can be tempting to try and be the best. You might want to outsmart competitors, increase your profit margins, and offer a wider range of products and services.

But at the end of the day, research has shown that less is more: instead of trying to beat your competition, separate yourself from them and do something new. Instead of offering a wider range of products, offer just a handful and perfect them. The smaller your niche, the faster you can fill it!

A unique selling point should be a genuine strategy. It could have to do with your product, or your return policy, or your supply chain, or the way your product works. No matter what your USP is, at the end of the day, it needs to be backed up by action and policy.

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Grab a piece of paper and a pen and get to it. What makes you different? How can you stand out? How can you present that in a way which customers will like? Once you tick all the boxes, you’re onto a winner.

Lena Klein

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