small-business-marketing-fort-worthAges ago when I was teaching a class on marketing for small businesses and start-ups one of the students asked a question that still makes me chuckle.  He said, “Can’t you just tell me what works and I’ll do that.”  If I had the universal answer to that question I could retire.

The short answer to his question was, “All of it works, and none of it works.”  But in order for any of it to work for you long-term you need to know 3 simple letters:  USP.

For those of you who read that really quickly and transposed a couple letters, USP has nothing to do with the guys in brown shirts who deliver packages.  USP stands for Unique Selling Position.

Your USP is what sets you apart from everyone else in the field.  In my last post about the dangers of “me too marketing” I told you how you needed to find a way to differentiate.  Take the thing that sets you apart and craft it into your USP.  Then make the USP the heart of everything you put out in your marketing.

What makes a good USP? It should be have real meaning.  Saying you have “excellent customer service” is not a USP.  It’s too vague and everyone says it.  The statement has no real meaning.  You need to define what makes your customer service so excellent.  Here are a couple great USP’s I’ve heard based on the customer service idea:

“Our average hold time is 13 seconds” – This is used by a merchant services company in Fort Worth.  Their target audiences are busy business owners who don’t have time to waste sitting on hold.  Anyone who’s spent an hour on hold with another company really appreciates this.

“You don’t have to tell us what you need more than once.” – This is used by a company whose research found their customers were frustrated by having to retell everything whenever they called in and got transferred.  They put a practice in place where the person who answers the phone relays all the important information to the person who takes the call when it’s transferred.

Both of these companies took the common “customer service” idea and made it their own.  Your USP is out there.  You just need to put some thought into it.  Think about what pain can you take away for your customers?  How can you make their experience better?  Quantify it into a solid statement and use it wherever you can.  Incorporate it into your branding and use it in your marketing messages.  It will separate you from the masses and giveyour customers and prospects a way to remember you.

So in answer to that student from years ago – find your USP and use it.  That’s what works.

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