Sales and Marketing Session Recap: Defining Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

By Nathan Denny and Scott Axelrod

Marketing & Sales: Defining Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

ISSUE #1

As the largest optical buying group in the United States, how should we modify our USP in response to competition from smaller groups that offer services that are both similar and different, but do not involve consolidated billing? How to develop a unique selling proposition that conveys to the market the message we want it to?

Why It’s Important

“The ultimate survival of my business depends upon how we respond to this changing demand in the market.”

So far, in an attempt to differentiate itself from other buying groups and alliances, the business has begun expanding services to better meet needs of potential customer base, including peer-to-peer meetings, new marketing materials, videos, education and training services, and web-based services.

Clarifying Questions (Background/Understanding)

  • Are the buying groups disappearing? Are you losing market share?
  • Have you tried a survey to determine the value of your services?
  • How easy is it to do business with you? Can I do business with you from my iPhone?
  • Have you worked to identify why younger potential customers would prefer a new model, over what you offer?

Suggestions (Solutions)

  • Survey your group to better understand your customers.
  • Examine how you can build more of a community around your group of customers.
  • Create dialog with the younger generation – stay current.

Action Plan

The CEO has committed to focusing on “how to create a community” and will focus on building relationships by leveraging how people are currently communicating.

ISSUE #2

How can I redefine my marketing model and position my company between the discount retailers and high-end boutiques?

Why It’s Important

  • Estimated financial value: $1,000,000
  • The industry (eye care) is full of discount coupons and intense upsale efforts: 70 percent of eyeglasses in the U.S. are sold at less than $200 retail.
  • There are four tiers of optical products: budget, non-branded, branded, and luxury branded. This company focuses on the middle two, which, taken together, amount to the largest segment, and encompasses customers looking for the best combination of affordability, quality and style.
  • “I’m looking forward to hearing what business leaders who aren’t in the industry think about this challenge. After more than 35 years, I can’t look at it objectively or like a patient does. I’m looking for fresh perspectives and ideas that come from retailing, brand building, and other industries.”

Clarifying Questions (Background/Understanding)

  • How do you currently differentiate your service from other providers?
  • How are people finding you, and who is coming in?
  • If you were going to advertise, where would you advertise? Have you tried social media?
  • Is there a similar retail experience you are trying to replicate or that you admire?

Suggestions (Solutions)

  • Follow up exams to try to up-sell products, and extend the experience.
  • Know your inventory: know what your customers want.
  • Host events with vendors to attract customers and create excitement.
  • Work with retention marketing. Reward referrals.
  • Invest in your website.
  • Find out what people think about discount eye wear and how much they more they will spend for better quality and service.

Action Plan

The CEO will work to better understand why people go to discounters and will overhaul his website to deliver better a marketing message. He’ll also look into hosting events to better engage customers.

ISSUE #3

A CEO with a new company needs to develop a unique selling proposition that connects with prospective customers and result in sales.

Why It’s Important

  • Company’s mission: to resolve conflict in private equity companies (between new private equity owners seeking change and legacy management resistant to it) through the use of the mediation process, and to enhance those relationships as well.
  • The company currently employs a marketing agency to help craft the message; the agency’s work is not considered acceptable.
  • The value of the message in the first year(s) is 1,000,000.

Suggestions (Solutions)

  • Make sure the message is concise, and targets the decision maker.
  • Break your marketing message up in to smaller buckets.
  • Why are you presenting a new service? Does it cure a pain felt by customers? If so, how?
  • The work of Simon Sinek is recommended.

Action Plan

The CEO will focus on the WHY (“Why I am doing this? Why live with conflict?”) to create an effective USP.

ISSUE #4

How do I better position my company in an industry that has become commoditized? How do I position our experience and expertise in the market? What sort of tactics have others used when faced with a declining margin while still offering a superior service?

Why It’s Important

  • The industry is interactive marketing / paid search, and this business leader is competing with platform providers who can offer superior value for the price.
  • “If we continue to lose margin, it will affect overall business operations and revenue health.”
  • This issue has been accelerating for the last 24 months, as the entry costs for lower-value competitors has fallen.
  • The CEO is considering also going the cost-cutting route, possibly reducing head count or changing pricing, or even switching markets.

Clarifying Questions (Background/Understanding)

  • Is the margin squeeze a trend or a shift? Are business costs coming down?
  • Are these services destined to move overseas, where labor is cheaper?
  • When in the sales process are you able to talk to the client?
  • What metrics do you use to define success?

Suggestions (Solutions)

  • Focus on one aspect of the business – large or small customers.
  • Learn to qualify customers more quickly.
  • Consider adding lower levels of service that don’t require the same level as enterprise clients.
  • Look carefully at messaging and attitude – customers have the right to be ignorant and unknowledgeable.

Action Plan

The CEO will focus on better meeting the needs of the market, and make an attempt to “pivot business and diversify … and offer add on services.”
Session date: Mar 6, 2012
Originally published: Mar 6, 2012

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