Eclass 1: What to Think About Before You Get Online
Believe it or not the first thing we’re going to ask you to do when coming up with your new online strategy is to disconnect.
Before you create your first profile, before you develop your marketing plan, you need to figure out or solidify your brand, your customer base and your target market.
Spend about 20-30 minutes a day over the next week going through this class and taking notes about how you want to translate your brand online.
If all of this is sounding familiar you’ve probably already read our free marketing guide (thanks again for checking that out!), but we only gave you the bare basics of defining your value proposition. This class will explain in detail the why and exact how of fleshing out your brand.
You’re getting way more bang for your buck!
Maybe your business has already been around for a while – congratulations! – and you’ve got a pretty good idea of how you want to sell yourself and who you’re selling to.
But now you need to translate that into the language of the internet world and that’s what your first e-class is all about.
In this class we’ll talk about
- What makes your business unique
- Being the expert in your field
- Identifying your customers problems and solving them
Creating and perfecting your unique selling proposition
Your unique selling proposition (USP) is the reason customers will choose to do business with you. It’s what leads them in making the decision to choose your business over your competitors.
You need people to understand in an instant what you’re all about and how you stand out.
In our free guide we told you to take into consideration something free you could give away (which we’ll expand upon in a further eclass), to write out your businesses story, and to update your background images and logos.
To carve out an effective USP that will make sales again and again for your business, there are a few other components to consider.
Part 1: Standing out from the crowd
In your city or even your town there probably are a few businesses that offer very similar products and/or services to yours. If you have a well-defined business focus you can easily stand out from your competitors, be a specialist not a generalist.
Usually when a potential customer is browsing for a product or service, they will go for the business that stands out from the crowd, that comes across as different or unique, or emphasizes what the benefits of choosing them are.
This business that stands out doesn’t need to be the best, you just need to be different enough to catch the public’s attention. By using something clever, unique, colorful or eye catching, basic human psychology dictates that people will be drawn to your business. You will gain their attention.
Are you special? If you answered “No” you are missing the point! You are special and you need to be able to effectively explain why to people in order to stay ahead of your competition.
Here is an example to explain what we are talking about, if you have ever traveled to Southeast Asia and gone to a local market or shopping center, there are so many stalls or shops that sell exactly the same (or very similar) products, which one do you choose if the all look the same?
Usually you would head for the one nearest to where you are standing, choose completely randomly, or pick the business that has the friendliest looking sales person (personally standing out from the crowd).
Now if one of these businesses differentiated themselves by having unique signage, interesting displays or eye-catching advertising, most people would pick them just because they stood out and made an effort to differentiate themselves from the crowd.
Right now take some time to answer these 4 questions to help out figure out what makes you special or what you can do to differentiate yourself:
1) Who is your competition?
What do they do? What do you do better? What do your competitors do differently from you? Is it better, worse or the same with a twist? What’s the twist? How is your twist more interesting or what sets you apart from them? Spend some time getting to know your competition, what makes them tick and how they sell themselves. Don’t focus too much on them though, it’s good to know who they are, but ultimately this is about you and your business.
2) What is the most important thing you offer your customers?
Some examples of this are signature dishes, promotions, investment in the community, staff, sustainability, decoration or theme of your space, etc.
3) What is the factor of your business that defines why you do what you do?
Why did you open this business? Why do you put everything into it every day? What about it is special to you? Figure that out and use to draw people to you. People are interested in the story and will choose you because of it.
4) Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, what’s the first thought they would have when encountering your business?
Does it look the same to all of the others or is there something in particular that keeps people coming back? What about your business intrigues your customers?
Taking some time to thoughtfully answer those questions should have helped you get a better understanding of how you’re unique in your market.
Part 2: Becoming the expert in your niche
You’re an expert already maybe you just don’t know it. You opened this business for a reason, so obviously you know enough to make an impact.
That’s not enough.
To make people trust you and buy from you, you have to come across as THE expert.
You need to show people (and know enough to back up your claims!) that you’re THE expert in your area, the one people should go to.
You obviously already know a lot about your business specialty but dig a little bit deeper. Have some facts and history in your repertoire that you can drop casually in conversation with your clients. If you know the how and why of not only the history but the current state of the market, your customers will refer to you as their go to “guy.”
A woman who runs a pizza place and can talk casually with her guests about the history of pizza, of why they’re using a certain style and where that style came from, is going to have a much stronger, loyal client base than the fast food chain around the corner, even if she charges a little bit more.
If there are any areas you need to brush up on you can find many online articles, resources, blog posts and videos (search on YouTube) eBooks, podcasts and interviews. The vast majority of business owners will already be the ultimate expert in their business specialty.
If you can speak confidently and know more than 97% of the rest of the world about what you’re selling, that makes you an expert!
Maybe you already know everything you need to know about your business, but to turn your knowledge into the inch wide, mile deep kind that people will keep coming back for consider being able to answer these questions.
-When did my industry start?
-What’s the history (personal and large scale) of what I’m making or selling?
-Why do we use the materials or expertise we do?
-Can I tell the story of this niche to a client with confidence?
Part 3: Identify customers problems and pain and figure out how your product or service can solve them
To come up with your USP you have already decided what your business specialty is and the history behind it, now you need to make it your own.
A great way to do this is to think of your customers. Who are they? What do they want? What do they like? What don’t they like?
Most importantly, is there are problem they are experiencing that you can solve? An area of lack or struggle in their lives or something missing or not working as well as it should?
This is a very important element to making your business thrive.
You should write down two lists: one of things your customers like and a second of what problems they are having. Find a way to get your business to breach the gap between those two lists and you’re headed for success.
To figure out how to do this you need to figure out if your customers are suffering because of their problem. Many problems can be trivial and don’t really matter much. But if you can find the people who are truly looking for answer to relieve the pain of their struggles, they will be your ideal target market.
Because: Problem + Pain = Profit
It sounds crude, but most businesses don’t have one or both elements of this equation. If you can identify the problems your customers are having, the cause of their pain AND you can solve it, you are onto a real winner.
This is a very important element online and will be the cornerstone of your homepage, promotions and advertising.
For example, if you have a landscaping business, your client’s problem is that their property doesn’t look the way they want it to. If you can identify a source of pain they weren’t consciously aware of before- for example “are you embarrassed to have people over to your house?” their new awareness coupled with your new solution will guarantee you satisfied and raving return customers.
Part 4: Your value proposition
People won’t spend money on just anything. What is it that you are selling exactly? More than a physical product or service, it is the customer experience.
Benefits are more important than features. How does it make your customer feel? What emotions are evoked from start to finish?
Take the landscaping example above. Your client called you because they were displeased with their garden. They wanted something different. They were unhappy but maybe couldn’t exactly figure out why, so confusion and general distaste were big factors. Now imagine how they feel once you were able to identify their problem based on your expertise and extensive knowledge of not only landscaping but why people have gardens (because you’re the expert in your field and took time to study!). Imagine how they felt when they realized the source of their pain and the relief they felt when you were able to offer a solution.
All of those feelings play a much greater role in their purchasing decision than the features of your specific landscaping packages.
Just think about the drink Coke: it’s just brown, sugar water. But the advertising is able to play to your emotions, to create a pleasurable experience for everyone who has one. People don’t drink Coke because of the taste, they drink it because advertising has created the idea that it is so pleasurable it makes every experience that much better. You just want one, even if you don’t drink the stuff!
Check out this example below:
Take a few minutes to define the emotional benefits your product or service delivers. Write them down and examples of how you think you can use them to sell your business. This is an integral part of your unique selling proposition.
You are not selling your product or service in your marketing, you are selling the benefits your product/service delivers, how it makes your customers feel now that you have solved their annoying problem and alleviated their pain.
Not that you’ve taken some time to understand your clients, your competition and your own business a little better, take a few minutes right now to write a short value proposition for your business that clearly shows your customer the benefit of doing business with you and how you can solve their problems.
Once you’ve got that, find a way to turn it into a short sentence or phrase that sums up your value proposition. It should be no more than a few words, something like a catchphrase you’ll use to market yourself.
Here are some examples of taking your value proposition and converting it into a few simple words:
Saltwater Aquarium Advice – Andrej is a scientist who studied marine biology at university. His story goes on to tell people that even a scientist can fail with saltwater aquarium keeping if they aren’t applying scientific principals, and when he used his background he succeeded. His USP would be “Saltwater Scientist”
Bamboo Lounge Laos- This is a training restaurant in Northern Laos that brings in locals from ethnic minority tribes who have no prior hospitality experience or English language training and teaches them everything they need to know. Bamboo Lounge serves wood-fired pizza and Western style coffee in a town and region where those things aren’t very popular. Their USP is “Using Pizza to Empower the Local Community.”
Swap Work For Travel- the purpose of this business is to connect travelers who want to have a more authentic travel experience with families, charities and businesses around the world that are interested in hosting visitors in exchange for a little bit of work. The hosts get something done they can’t do for themselves, the travelers get to live with a local family and everyone benefits from the cultural exchange. The USP is “Get a more authentic travel experience living like locals.”
It may take a while to write out everything you want to get across into a short paragraph, but once you do it will be easy to sort out the core of your message and translate that into your USP.
Over the next week, make sure you’ve completed the exercises above and know
- How are you different, what makes you unique?
- How you can establish yourself as an expert
- Identify painful problems your product/service can solve
- What are the benefits and emotions your product/service can deliver?
- What your USP is and a short paragraph that elaborates on the details of it.
All of these questions will lead to your USP and once you’ve got it your ready for the next step!
Until next week!