This is Part Two the the Keys to an Effective Small Business Website Series
Your Unique Selling Proposition – the USP
No matter who creates your website, no matter what it looks like, no matter where the traffic comes from, you need to give the reader a reason to buy from you. This is marketing 101 and you can skip a lot of the homework but if you miss this you fail the class. Your unique selling proposition or unique selling point is what will give potential customers the reason to purchase from you. Without it, your small business website is virtually useless.
Why do you need a unique selling proposition?
If you cannot separate your business from the other businesses (or separate your product) customers will not have any reason to buy from you. They will go someplace that can give them a reason. At the very best, your potential customer will have to contact you to ask for a reason to buy from you. Often this desperate cry for a reason to utilize your services will start with the word “How much is _________.” You can fill in the blank with whatever your business typically hears. In my case, every photographer could guess the first words you hear after answering the phone:
“How much is an 8×10?”
To which nearly every photographer answers the question and the potential customer says goodbye and calls the next photographer in the phone book with the same question. This goes on until the customer hears a price that sounds good, or, a photographer that knows better.
This is true for nearly every type of business.
It does not matter what you sell or what service you provide. The product is a bit different but the rest of the sentence (as well as the conversation) is most likely the same. Many small business websites are just as bad as their phone book ads. They give the name, address, phone number and maybe an email address. The website may have some pretty pictures or flashy graphics but no real reason for the customer to do business. Of course, you can save a lot wasted time answering the phone by putting prices on your site. Then they don’t even call. The small business owner then wonders why his expensive pretty website brings in no business.
You need to get your small business website away from the phone book mentality.
You should also probably change your phone book ads. You need to give potential clients more than you name, address, and phone number. Everyone else has the same ad already. Look at your local phone book ads. They are all the same business. In 90% of the ads in a niche, only the name, address, and phone number are different. You could substitute the name “Giant Donut” for the name of many of the businesses listed and it would still make sense. Most small business websites are the same. They just add some flashy graphics.
Before you spend any time building a website, you need your unique selling proposition.
What makes your business, your product, your service unique? Why should a customer come to you instead of the business down the block? What do you have to offer?
It better not be price!
If so, stop reading now and just flush any money you plan to invest in you business down the drain. You will soon be out of business. Maybe not this month or year, but eventually someone start to beat your price. Then why should I shop with you? You need to face the fact that most likely, you will eventually be facing competition that can beat your price. That may very well be Wal-Mart and they will beat your price if they have to lose money doing it. The will also probably be open longer hours than you can, and have a nice old lady to smile, to say hello, and to offer them a cart to shop with. You will be out of business.
Before you start to really set up a small business website, you need to find your USP.
Actually, you should come up with at least 10 unique things about your business. This will be the core of your website. The reason people will purchase your product or service from your business. Tell them why they should come to you instead of your competition. While you can cheat a little on a few of them, the majority of those USP’s need to truly be unique to your business. You probably are not a Giant Donut dealer, so make sure only your business can claim them.
Also, how do those unique selling propositions benefit the customer?
Be ready to tell your potential customer how a particular USP will matter to them. A lot of small businesses will mention that they use a particular brand of equipment or supplies (Remember Kodak film fellow photographers? It really does not matter to the customer). Unless it benefits the customer, it really does not count.The customer will not be impressed by your technology unless there is a benefit to the customer. Give them a benefit, and you will win the customer (even if the competition uses better technology but fails to demonstrate how that would benefit the customer). Why should they come to you instead of Wal-Mart? Perhaps you are less expensive even though Wal-Mart is cheaper. The preceding sentence only makes sense if you show the customer the difference between less expensive and cheap.
Your mission should you accept it:
Create at least 10 unique selling points about your business. Make them as truly unique as you can. Don’t forget there are emotional selling points to your business that may be even more valuable to a customer than non-emotional reasons.
Unless you are the only Bugatti dealer within 500 miles of Pocatello, Idaho your location probably isn’t a real big USP for you. You’ll need something more unique than being the only Ford dealer in a particular Chicago suburb.
These USP’s will be the basis for you website.
You will need to build on them and create content around them. This is why I wanted to cover this topic on your small business website early so you can begin preparing your USP’s. You should use them in all your advertising and marketing. If you do, you will stop hearing the words “How much is…” and hear “I want to buy, purchase, schedule or whatever from you” instead. You will need to do less “selling”. You will find that you do not need to worry about that Wal-Mart going up down the street. You will be able to charge more for you product or service and still have more business.
Always remember the marking saying:
It’s not features, it’s benefits.