Today, startups are commonplace, and if you don’t have a side hustle, you’re likely to get a side eye. More and more do I meet people of all ages who are exploring their gifts outside of their 9-5. Creatives are taking up the mantle to start their own businesses, nonprofits and collaborative projects—it cannot be denied that entrepreneurship is a creative man’s game (no matter if you think of yourself as a traditional “creative”).
As small business owners, we find ourselves wearing many hats and one of the most important hats we wear is that of Chief Marketing Officer—even if you actually have a CMO—you are still a primary marketing ambassador for your organization. As you brand your business you must always be thinking about what makes you unique. Your UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION is paramount to your business’s survival. So…what is a USP?
The official definition (according to entrepreneur.com) is: The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.
So…what makes your business special? If you offer services, or sell products and merchandise—you’re not the only person doing it. Chances are, your idea, even if you are the first one bringing it to the marketplace—is not the first of its kind. So what makes your small business different? You have to take time to dig deep, think hard and be creative.
As you think about your TARGET AUDIENCE, you must dig into the psychographics, motivations, and context in which the audience receives your message. What about your story would appeal to them? What about them makes you want to sell to them?
In what ways can you position your brand to stand out? What is the STORY of the business? What is exclusive about the way in which you service your clients? Do you OFFER anything special to those who become customers?
As simple as it may seem, businesses are frequently launched without this in mind. Are you an attorney? A dentist? A plumber? If you’re starting your own practice you may think that your credentials will speak for themselves. However, as many in those industries can tell you—where you went to law or dental school, will not keep clients coming through the door.
So what is it about the way you handle your particular area of practice that makes you the one they should choose?
Review the CONTENT you’re putting out there. Your direct mailers, blog posts, newsletters, email marketing campaigns, etc. should not only establish your expertise, it must also demonstrate why you are better than the rest. Get creative here, do not take the route of putting down your competition, your focus here should be about your SPECIAL OFFERS, BOOKS you’ve written, PARTNERSHIPS you’ve established, previous CUSTOMER TESTIMONIALS, or your APPROACH to your services. QUICK TIP: Be sure your marketing campaigns include a CALL TO ACTION. Think about what you hope your content prompts your audience to do—then, direct them to do that (i.e. “see what’s next,” “start today,” “claim your free offer”).
Remember, it’s not about having a rare business—it’s about positioning your business as THE ONE your prospective clients should pick out of a sea of similar services. If you maintain a philosophy of service and a customer-centric focus—you will stay in touch with what your customers are seeking and how you can standout.