Before buying your product, customers will want to know a number of things. How can your product help them? Why should they buy your product, and not your competitors’? Why should they keep using your product again and again?
The answer lies in your unique value proposition (UVP). It’s exactly what it sounds like: It’s the value you – and you alone – can promise to deliver to your customers. To craft a memorable UVP, you need to:
1. Identify What Makes Your Product Different
Pick one or two qualities that set your product apart from competitors. It can be the packaging – think Tiffany & Co. – the way you customize your product for buyers – such as the early days of Dell – or high quality coupled with a reasonable price.
If you’re not sure, or if your product isn’t that much different from your competitors, try to dig deeper. Take a leaf out of Malcolm D. MacDougall’s book, and ask these questions: What little-known benefit does my product have? Which known benefit can be made more compelling? What long-term brand personality should my product have? The answers will help you figure out what to highlight in your UVP later.
2. Interview Your Customers
Another way to determine what differentiates your product is to ask the buyers themselves. This might seem like common sense, but if you’ve ever been a recipient of poor customer service, you know firsthand how many businesses fail to do this.
Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to find out what makes your customers tick. You can post product-specific questions on social media. You can ask your customers to take a quick survey. You can be stealthy about it, and check online review sites for honest feedback on your product. As copywriter Robert W. Bly would say, “the best salesmen are the ones who can understand, and empathize with, their customers the most.”
3. Craft a Solid Primary and Secondary Promise
Once you identify the factors that differentiate your product, you can translate those factors into a primary and secondary promise. Combined, these two can hook people into buying your product – provided they’re crafted carefully.
For instance, Middleby’s primary promise is the No Quibble Warranty, where they’ll take back any product returned to them, no questions asked. While other companies like Nordstrom and Costco have similar policies, Middleby’s is more compelling, since kitchen equipment is more stressful to return compared to, say, clothes.
However, the No Quibble Warranty, by itself, isn’t sustainable. What if Middleby ends up with a pile of unusable ovens in their inventory? So they need to make a secondary promise: That every single one of their products is tested before it’s shipped. Because of this, the company eventually became one of the largest cooking equipment providers in the world, and the rest is history.
4. Use Numbers to Show Your Value
Anyone can use the words best, well-known and acclaimed to describe their product. How many can claim to have served the needs of 193,245 customers and counting? That’s the magic of numbers.
Gather all customer-related data you can get. Find out who your repeat buyers are, what they buy and why. Identify any patterns in your data, and use this to refine your marketing strategies, or even the product itself. If you do this, you can sustain – or even increase – your positive buyer-related numbers.
For example, I was just in the process of looking for an alarm system. For something as important as safety, numbers can speak volumes. I was impressed the most by Titan Alarm’s visualization of response times to alarms. By showing the alarming difference between traditional alarms and verified video alarms, customers like myself are much more likely to choose the product that will get the police to me 10-40 minutes sooner. The value of the brand, in this case, enhanced safety, was clearly demonstrated in one simple visual that offered definitive proof, and what’s more powerful than that?
5. Leverage Testimonials
According to Robert Cialdini’s critically acclaimed book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” people are more likely to trust the opinions of those who are like themselves. So if your potential customers see people like them singing praises for your product, they’ll want to try it out, too. Of course, you shouldn’t just pick any testimonial. Choose the ones that are specific about what the customer liked from your product.
6. Communicate It All Through Clear Copy
Knowing all of the above, you can now craft your UVP. In general, it consists of the following elements:
- A headline
- A sub-headline
- Bullet points underneath the headline
- Visuals – images, videos, infographics
Bear in mind that visitors only have a few seconds to determine whether your product is any good. Make every word count, and use your customer’s language when writing your copy. Using a value proposition worksheet can make this step much easier.
7. Be Consistent With Your UVP
No matter what communication channel you use, your UVP should shine through. Make sure to weave your UVP, in one way or another, into your blog posts, social media profiles and email newsletters. This way, your customers won’t have much trouble remembering you when they need your services next time.
8. Follow Through on Your Promises
The billionaire Warren Buffett once said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it.” If your value proposition has been deeply ingrained into your customer’s minds, they expect you to follow up on it. Otherwise, they’ll look for other companies that serve their needs better, and you’ll find yourself back to square one.
Crafting a solid UVP doesn’t have to be difficult. Know what makes your product’s benefits different, translate it into your customer’s language and convince them that your product is not just a solution, but the only solution. With a good UVP, you’ll always know where to steer your business and experience success before your competitors do.