In our last post, we discussed how message creation has changed due to the Digital Revolution. Because buyers are more informed than ever, it has become more challenging for businesses to make a connection with their target audiences. In order to facilitate one-on-one conversations with personas, you must first discover and validate their value propositions — the things they value most when purchasing a product or service.
Your company doesn’t have any control over your prospects’ value propositions; they are what they are. However, you do have control over the second principle of developing effective messaging: Unique Selling Propositions (USPs). USPs, sometimes referred to as differentiators, are the features of your company’s products and services that makes them stand out from the competition. They’re what makes your company unique and special.
When it comes to marketing for your company, this is the point in the process where you should really get excited. Businesses love to tell their customers why they’re so great. As a matter of fact, most companies used to skip the value proposition stage and jump right to the USPs. That isn’t a good idea today, but after you have validated value propositions, you can have a heyday thinking of ways to put your company on a pedestal.
How to Identify USPs
To identify USPs, you must ask “What makes us better than the competition?” There are a couple of methods to compile solid answers. The first is through discovery. As has been the case throughout the steps leading up to this point, start with internal collaboration. Your marketing and sales teams should once again be present. But this time, you should include the people who really know the nuts and bolts of your products: the engineers. Have the group brainstorm product advantages that your competitors can’t match. If you’ve got a lot of product-based USPs, GREAT! That means you have a well-differentiated product, and you have a good chance of winning in the marketplace as long as those USPs align with your prospects’ value propositions (more on this later).
However, discovering USPs can be challenging in a commoditized market where there is not much difference between one company’s products and those of another. You NEED to have something that sets you apart. So, if you can’t identify any product-based USPs, look at your services. Do you offer superior customer service, faster delivery, more convenient ordering and billing, or better warranties? These are all USPs that can give you an advantage in the marketplace.
But what if you’ve examined every aspect of your company’s products and services and weren’t able to discover USPs? In this case, it may be time to create some. Before you proceed, it’s important to note that not every aspect of your marketing can just be created to fit your needs. For example, you can’t create value propositions for your prospects. They value what they value, and you can’t change that. You are the listener in that situation. But since USPs fall under the talking portion of messaging, you have more freedom.
To create USPs, you must first consider your personas’ value propositions and then think of ways you can provide them with what they want better than your competitors. If you think durability is a value prop, then you might have to create a warranty or adjust your current one so that it’s the best around. If you think another value prop is convenient ordering, you better make sure you have strong online capabilities. Creating USPs may cause some wholesale changes to the business. But because it plays a role in increasing market share, it’s worth the expense, time and effort.
By now, you’ve probably gotten used to the final step being validation. While you certainly can contact current customers or conduct surveys to validate them, USPs offer more wiggle room for creativity. If you’ve validated your market segment, personas and their value propositions, you may not have to validate your USPs because that’s your discretionary advertising message. A USP is a real USP; it just may not be what the persona is seeking.
In order to pinpoint the USPs that will best resonate with your prospects, compare them with the value propositions of each of your personas and see which ones align best. Once you’ve ranked them from most relevant to least relevant, you’ll have a list to work from when you create your messaging. Be sure to include this list in your persona-specific messaging guidelines so that your creative team can remain consistent. From there, think about A/B testing to develop the most effective messaging. This is an area where science and art come together. You can test different treatments of the same USP and then test different USPs in order to maximize your emotional appeal.
Almost Time to Send Your Message
You’ve identified prospects’ value propositions and your company’s USPs. That means it’s time to start creating ads and other messaging, right? Well … not quite yet. Before can you fully immerse yourself in message creation, you need to identify the terms that will grab and keep the attention of your prospects. Check back for our next post to learn about keywords…