THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF ANY WEBSITE
I can’t stress this enough. Your unique selling point, (also known as a unique selling proposition or USP) is what will determine your website, blog or online business’s success or failure online. Oh, and it’s the part that everyone online skips over for some reason.
Far beyond anything else, domain names, design, Internet marketing – these are just tools. You’re unique selling proposition however IS what you’re about. It’s the reason why anyone should pay attention to you, use your website over another or read your blog instead of something else.
This should go without saying too, but DON’T COPY OTHER WEBSITES.
How do I make my Website Unique?
This is normally directed at me from strictly a design angle, and while having a unique looking website is also important because it helps define your brand and ideas as well as increase the trust factor, it’s just only one aspect of coming up with a unique selling point.
For example, women love MarieForleo.com.
They love how the picture changes on each page, they like the colors and the layout and how overall, a sense of confidence and competence is conveyed with the design. So it makes sense to want to have the same style as a way to have the same feeling with your own website, but design is not the edge. It’s not the USP.
So let’s be clear. Design matters. Design enhances your content and thus your messages. Checking the comments on any of Marie’s blog posts, you’ll find an army of copycat women who are all “empowered, love yourself, heart centered soulprenurs.”
They won’t win at this game because they’re just echos of Marie.
Let’s continue because I need to finish writing this because it’s about to rain and and I don’t want to get stuck at the cafe where I’m writing this.
Oh which reminds me…
This cafe has FOOD
In the city where I live there are literally 10 different cafes where I could go to and work with my laptop. But consistently, I choose just two because of their unique selling point. Their selling point for me is that they have really good food, (real food, not cakes and cookies) and they’re close to where I live. The other one has a beautiful view of a river but they sell cake.
Your unique selling point could be something you’re not even aware of. The guys behind the cafe I go to don’t do anything special purposefully. They run a pretty generic cafe, however, their unique selling point is specific to me.
What are some things you can do to craft a powerful unique selling point?
1) Don’t play the game you can’t win
If you can be the best in a market, that means create a site that is an authority on the topic then GREAT, you’ll reap the rewards for that. Otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of time or be eventually beat out once someone who is better than you enters the market.
Perfect example is the sort of people like Marie Forleo with her website for women, is Nick Kelly with his website at BoldandDetermined.com for men.
Both of these individuals are world class at what they do and are integral to their websites success. They are in a specific market, but they define an aspect of that market that they own 100%. So much so that most people end up creating copy cat websites without that even being their intention.
2) Always look for a way to have a different take on something
Innovation may blow up in your face, but if you figure out something that works really well – you will be doing something specific and unique, instead of competing in a crowded market where everyone is trying to be the best at the SAME EXACT THING.
For bloggers this means being yourself but also being apart of a specific niche.
For website content creators, this means doing something different than your competition. Just slightly different in some meaningful way. An obvious example would be maybe you start creating YouTube videos AND blog posts. Whatever, something that is different.
This is a big issue with bloggers and YouTube channel content creators. They copy too much. How many Casey Neistat immitators are there? A LOT!
Take inspiration from leaders, but learn from experts, and don’t try and be the next Facebook. Just learn the success principles behind Facebook, and mirror that instead.
3) Be insanely good at whatever it is you do
If you’re going to be a website content creator, you must understand all aspect of one page SEO, link building, keyword research and website optimization. Otherwise, don’t even bother.
If you’re a blogger, you have to be an above average story teller or how-to teller.
People WILL NOT ignore you if you’re really good at what you do. A question:
What successful person you know online or off sucks at what they do?
Neistat works 14 hour days. Do you? Successful websites have successful people behind them and successful people are insanely good at what they do. Beginners however always suck.
Get over it.
Get stuck in as the English say. Hurry up and get in line and stay in line until you’re at the front because that’s where all the benefits are.
The way to think of it is like this. Everyone who is at the front of the line was once was at the back. Apply this to any career field or any skill set. Those who have the skills you don’t have, who are living the life you want, who have the business you want and the skills you need to achieve your own success at one point in time did NOT have those skills, or business or life. They we’re just like you – in the back of the line.
This is why I like the concept of the 1000 day rule (1000 days of being poor and struggling before figuring it out). Get started now because the time is going to pass anyways.
4) DO something other people ARE NOT DOING or HAVE NOT DONE.
Chris Guilebeu (http://chrisguillebeau.com) writes a personal development/lifestyle blog about unconventional ideas on life, work and travel and has since expanded this one project into products, conferences, a New York Times best selling book and a multitude of services.
His concept was new and interesting when he started years ago, but his edge when starting out was that he was on a quest to visit every country in the world and was doing it. Not talking about doing it as many lifestyle and travel bloggers tend to do.
This mix of travel with personal development was unique.
Mixergy.com was founded by Andrew Warner. When I first found this website years ago it was simple looking blog with interviews by some Indian looking “kid”. My first impressions was that this guy was just a wannabe.
It was not until he revealed his success, that he built and sold a multi-million dollar company, his family was from the middle east, and that he was in his 30’s, that I took his work way more seriously.
He also credits this as the turning point for Mixergy as well. Once he came out with a video explaining who he is and what he has done his traffic took off. It’s no surprise. He did something most people have not done and is in the position to reap the benefits from it.
ManCrates.com ships manly stuff for guys in wooden crates that need a freaking crowbar to open. Is shipping unique? No. Is the idea crates unique? No. Is “stuff for guys” unique? No. But you put it all together and it works!
5) Winners learn proven success principles, then apply what they know, and make decisions with confidence
If you’re unsure of your success within the next 8 months, you’re not ready yet. It’s fine to not know what exactly to do, or to worry. But if you’re unsure of your own success your project is either too idealistic or your goal is to unrealistic. It’s like trying to loose your big fat stomach. The main way you do this is by eating less calories, and starting an exercise routine.
For at least two months. If you don’t believe this, if you don’t have the confidence in your success how likely will it be that you will follow through on the proven success principles other have already demonstrated to work?
No book, blog post, or video can help you come up with a unique selling point, though it can help stress the importance of one. Your USP is all on you. If you copy, you will fail as imitation is the shortest path to failure. Conversely, If you don’t come up with a unique selling point, your online work and getting attention for yourself will be that much more difficult.
TRY THIS: Solitude for an hour.
Put away the gadgets, close Facebook and rediscover solitude. I find this essential in our world of ever growing and never ending distractions.
Your mind is a powerful tool. To use it properly as a way to come up with some amazing ideas – you need to think clearly however, and thinking clearly takes work and solitude.
I don’t even mean you have to sit and meditate or anything, I often do my best thinking right before I sleep and during my evening runs. This time is a great time to do your own thought experiment on how you’re going to be different from all your known competitors and what actions you need to take to to make a successful blog or information business.
You need a clear mind, find your own solitude. Be it a run, laying on your bed, sitting quietly with a notebook. Discover the process that works for you that allows your mind to do the emotional work of thinking and come up with a unique selling proposition.
Imitation is The Shortest Path to Failure. Emulate, Don’t Copy!
Successful websites and blogs solve problems.
There are exceptions as you could set out to create an entertainment website or celebrity gossip website that gets millions of visitors a month (good luck with that). Better however to just do the hard work of connecting the dots between peoples pains and quality relevant solutions to those pains.
In other words, provide value.
If you’re someone who wants to bootstrap a solution, an ideal medium to provide a fix for these problem is a low cost one like a WordPress powered website that won’t break the bank.
The unique selling point
Your website needs to provide value, but it also needs a compelling reason why anyone would visit your website, trust you, buy from you, and recommend you to others. Think of it like the restaurant business. Imagine you live in a small town with only hamburger shops. You decided to do what….open a hamburger shop? Noooo, you want to differentiate yourself so you decide to open a Mexican restaurant. You have great success.
Extrapolate this a few years down the line and every type of food offering eventually exists in this small town.
The real problem is now not simply opening a restaurant anymore (creating a website) or even finding a unique selling point (as most selling positions have been staked out by others who started before you), it becomes finding a unique selling point that allows you to be purposeful and solve problems.
For example, I could totally start a blog on my love affair of the Jack Fruit, the largest tree born fruit in the world.
Would my website be unique? Yes.
Would it have a unique selling point? Yes, as it would be the only destination online for Jack Fruit besides Wikipedia.
Would it be purposeful and solve problems? No. It would simply be a novel website that would provide surface level entertainment… not real world changing value. Unless I was talking about how the Jack Fruit cures some problem and that’s why you should eat it.
Show, don’t tell
We never get adequate time to prove ourselves to others, The stunning truth is that first impressions often make or break a website as people will either:
A: Come across your website and brand a few times before they trust it and get it. For example, people may find your website in a search engine or through blog comments but that is not compelling enough.
If they find you through those mediums then find you again because an influencer in your industry recommends you then BOOM, you have an instant subscriber,fan, customer.
This is how most successful websites are built over time, through word of mouth, social proof, relationships and knowing their unique selling point and how their communication supports it while constantly hitting it over and over and over again.
B: Immediately not like your website due to its unprofessional design, unclear unique selling point (e.g. what is this website about and how is it different from all the others on this topic) and by not understanding how your website will benefit them.
C: Be totally into and supportive of what you do.
How do you get people to like what you do?
The language you use to explain what you do matters. The words and the way you use them matters. In essence, WHAT YOU SAY matters.
What do you think is more effective as a conference presentation?
Person A gets up and blathers on for 10 minutes about what his business does. He did not research his audience and did not customize his language to them. He gives a fact based talk about the services his business provides and how much he charges for them with a lot of jargon nobody understands.
Person B however does not even give a talk. Instead he strategically selects past clients to provide testimonials about how amazing his services is and how it changed their lives for the better.
Person B is purposeful with their message, person A does the expected minimum
The second approach is much more purposeful and brilliant. It’s your typical “show, don’t tell” method of promoting yourself. You see this online and on TV as well in the form of user testimonials. A classic example is P90X.
For websites it’s the same. Show, hey I’m a travel blogger who’s visited 30+ countries and I’m here to give you the best travel tips!
Whatever. Show don’t tell.
If you get nothing out of this, remember one thing, the words you use matter, even in day to day conversation. For example, if you were to talk about what you did for a living what would you say? Would you blather on and give a facts based answer? Wouldn’t it be better to customize your language and make what you do relatable to the person asking?
So for myself, I could answer a question with a question as such:
So what do you do for a living?
Have you ever used Google before to solve a problem like how to do XY or Z?
Then you eventually found a website that had exactly the content you were looking for?
I make those kinds of websites.
Answer: OHHHHH, cool. I get it. How do you do that?
Well I’m a self employed digital website strategist (people who talk like this are usually unemployed) who builds content driven websites that leverage SEO and social media to fulfill market gaps.
Answer: ….. OK?
Become 100% clear about your message. The essential must read.
You get SO little time online and in the real world to prove why you’re worth buying, trying, and listening too. 100% clarity is essential as to what it is you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. So let’s get practical and answer in written word (be it a notebook or a Word document) questions that will help you craft a purposeful unique selling point, message, and product.
When finished, you should have the proper language to help clarify what it is you’re trying to sell and why (to yourself and to anyone else for that matter).
- What idea, product or content are you offering to the world?
- What specific problem does it solve?
- Why is it worth anyone’s time or money to try and buy?
- Define your avatar. Who is your right person?
- What are your credentials? Are you a bullshit artist or are you someone who knows what they are talking about?
- What will your right peoples resistances be to what it is you’re providing?
- What is the point behind your message and website? What is it’s purpose?
- You have your right peoples attention. What do you want them to do? How do you want them to do it and where do you want them to do it?
- Who are your competitors?
What idea, product or content are you offering, selling or recommending to the world?
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison
Is your website about social change? Is it to help you land a job? Are you trying to sell products and/or services to a market? Are you trying to come up with a way to brand yourself online, to differentiate yourself via a website?
What specific problem does it solve?
“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” Jack Welch
What specifically are the problems your “right” people face? What keeps them up at night? What prevents them from making progress? What are the words they use to describe their problem? Are you the only one trying to provide a solution? How does what you wish to offer or create solve this problem for your right people without making is look like work? How does it do this in a unique way?
Why is it worth anyone’s time or money to try and buy?
“At one point in your life you either have the thing you want or the reasons why you don’t.” – Andy Roddick
What specific things (3 or 4 things) will people do better, faster, or cheaper? What specific things will people start to do or stop to do as a DIRECT result of your product/coaching/offering?
Define your avatar. Who is your right person?
“I cannot give you a formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure – which is: try to please everybody.” – Herbert Bayard Swope
Create an ideal user of your product, website, coaching etc. But let’s get specific this time shall we? Define this persons age (30-35 perhaps), income level (20 year old graduates in their first jobs out of college), relationship status (divorced with 2 kids), education level (masters degree – dropout), criminal history, morality (dysfunctional family – happy at work, unhappy because of layoffs etc), physical characteristics (Asian men – women who don’t know how to use make-up).
Who is this person that wants and needs what you wish to sell?
What are your credentials (or are you a bullshit artist who doesn’t know what they are talking about?)
“The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.” -Confucius
You need to be someone who knows what they’re talking about, otherwise you’re a bullshit artist. How can you tell which one you actually are? I say this in complete seriousness because too many webmasters don’t even realize they’re the problem with marketing online.
Specifically, what in your background makes you qualified to offer coaching, products or services? People need to have a frame of reference to understand what makes you tick. Without that, you’re simply qualified enough to have an opinion but not a qualified opinion (see “A comedy master teaches me how to be funny” to understand the difference).
What is your unfair advantage as well? How do you excel in ways other do not? What proof do you have? Do you have a track record to point to? What are your values and principles and how can they help set you apart? Are integrity, work ethic, or transparency some of your biggest assets perhaps?
What will your right peoples resistances be to what it is you’re providing?
“Our business is infested with idiots who try to impress by using pretentious jargon.” – David Ogilvy
Your product or coaching could be priced too high, have a low perceived value, appear to be too complicated or technical. You may lack the social proof and credentials to sell what you’re selling. Has your idea already been done? What data or evidence can you show that what you’re offering will work and is worth the investment? What are the words you will use to neutralize the anticipated rejections of your product, service, or coaching via your website?
What is the point behind your message and website? What is it’s purpose?
“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” -Tom Brokaw
Money exist to facilitate trade and commerce. Money that is useless such as the American penny should be retired. Words and communication are the same. With your website, words exist to communicate ideas, otherwise they should be omitted.
At the end of the day, what is the point of your domain name, your tag-line, and the words you use on your website and offerings? The purpose of your website and product is what? Is it designed to entertain, educate, inspire, or persuade? Who and why? What do you want them to do next (subscribe to your YouTube channel, buy your products, like you on Facebook)?
You have your right peoples attention. What do you want them to do? How do you want them to do it and where do you want them to do it?
Smarts and action are on the same side of the equation where the sum is success. ~Garrett Hazel
Direct people. Purchase your products – How? Sign-up for your email list – where? Is there a limited time on your offer? Should there be a sense of urgency? This goes back to the old fashioned copywriting concept of A-D-I-A. The last A stands for “action”. When you have peoples interest and desire you must direct them as to what to do next. People are not idiotic for the most part, but don’t be vague about asking for the sale. Tell them what to do and how to do it respectfully. Can they pay with PayPal? Do they send a check? How do they get their product or schedule a meeting time with you? What links do they click to take them to relevant pages?
People won’t just do stuff, you need to ask and tell them what to do. This is why it’s so common to see on websites something so simple as “if you liked this post like it on Facebook”. You see this because it works. If you direct people to do something, they’re more likely to do it.
Who are your competitors?
“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” -Wayne Dyer
List out the top 3 websites in your market. If you don’t have 3, reevaluate the markets potential as your market might be too small. Then, write about what your competitors strengths are, what their oversights are. What you can do differently to give you an edge. Mention also what is something that you can do that is the total opposite of what everyone else is doing. How does your actual appearance differ (or does your website look like a cookie-cutter type of website for your market)?
Imitation is the shortest path to failure
They say that imitation is a form of flattery, but imitation online will only lead to failure.
Take a few hours to hash out the details of your offering, your website, and its positioning compared to the competition. Eventually you will either scrap your idea, evolve it into something else, or verify what you already knew.
Next, by doing this quiet work that matters you will also conjure up a nice set of vocabulary and elevator phrase that make it crystal clear to you what it is you want to say and sell, and to who.
What to do next
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Unique Selling Point Discovery
When it comes to unique selling points you have three options:
- Be better
- Be cheaper
- Be different
Two of these are winning strategies while one just has you racing towards the bottom.
Yes, cheaper tends to be the refuge of the ineffective marketer because being cheaper is an easy strategy to implement in the short term. But long term it’s just a matter of time before your competition matches what you got. So don’t be cheaper, be different or be better.
The unique selling proposition defined
Let’s talk about food. You want to start a restaurant let’s say – What’s your food about? Is it Italian? Mexican? Thai?
Let’s say you want to start a Mexican restaurant. Are there any other Mexican restaurants in your area? No? Then that’s your USP. You’re doing something different from all other restaurants in town.
Now you’re still running a restaurant which isn’t revolutionary or inventive by itself, but it’s food is different. It’s reason why is different.
This is a key takeaway because you don’t want to be unique and different just for the hell of it. You want to be strategic about it in an already proven market.
How about this situation:
Mexican is a big market and as the first mover you will reap plenty of profit. Competition will eventually spring up too. So what about the second guy who copies you? Will he be successful? The answer is YES.
No idea is original, and in a market as big as Mexican food the first guy to enter will kill it, the second will also do well. Even the third guy can hang in there. But what about the fourth or fifth guy? They will fail.
DON’T be the fourth or fifth guy who simply copies the market leaders.
If you see plenty of Mexican restaurants don’t start a Mexican restaurant UNLESS you can be the best at it. Instead, look for a new unique selling proposition like Thai Food, Indian, Brazilian, or whatever and be the first mover in that.
What if all the big markets are saturated?
The real problem online and even in the restaurant world is saturation. There are already plenty of Mexican and Sushi places. There are already plenty of travel sites, Internet marketing blogs, and personal development sites.
At this point, you need to start:
1) Finding an intersection that works like a Sushi Pizza restaurant.
If successful you will have NO competition because you are not competing against anyone since you’re defining a new niche. It’s an instant win IF people love and support your Sushi Pizza restaurant. If they don’t then quit fast and start over.
2) Use your personality to connect with people on a human level.
In a restaurant, you want to be one of the reasons people go to your place because you provide such a wonderful user experience.
You’re friendly, you remember the names of regulars, you give a stick of gum with every order. Provide value by connecting as a person with your audience and customers in a way that only you can.
3) Develop a target market that excludes some people while catering to others.
If you’re lucky enough to lead in a top level market like Mexican food or Pizza, or personal development, or travel then you don’t need to worry about excluding people because most people are your potential customer. But most likely this is not you as you will be trying to find the right intersection of ideas and products that is unique or better or both than compared with what is currently available on the market (and is also what people WANT).
What to do?
You need to define a customer segment then. WHO eats your food is the main question? WHO is this for? WHO is this not for? Don’t take this lightly. If you can’t tell me who your ideal customer is, how old they are, how much money they have, are they male or female then you have not properly found a market segment yet.
Next it’s time to deliver on your unique selling proposition
The reason why must be communicated clearly and often over and over again consistently and forever for the life of your business and website. Just like saying “I do” to her does not get you off the hook from needing to demonstrate your continued love for her, so is the same with the reason why, the unique selling point that differentiates you in the market and keeps customers flowing in.
What should you do now?
Find your unique selling proposition by following the advice provided. Remember, you don’t need to be different from everyone, just the market leaders. Which in the online space is usually only 2 or 3 sites. Also, just because you find a USP doesn’t mean instant success. The market has got to also want what you want to give. If you’re USP is a failure, if it’s not connecting with people then change it or quit fast and move onto the next idea.
Again, find a compelling reason why that is unique from your market leaders. This is done by tapping into information and products and marketing not being done by other sites. It’s done by also finding an intersection between two proven markets that could work. It’s done by providing value and teaching people how to do something.
Never start a blog or a content website if you’re only going to be an echo of more established websites.