unique selling proposition

Want to increase your website conversions?

Most people want to improve their website conversions… and if they don’t then they probably aren’t clear on exactly what this means.

Basically every visitor that comes to your website has the potential to become a client. Say 1 visitor out of every 100 that visits your website decides to buy from you. That means you have a conversion rate of 1%.

Why website conversion is so difficult

We often see low numbers like 1% when it comes to website conversion because it’s so hard to sell anything online. Basically you’re a faceless website located somewhere out in the internet. It takes a lot of work to get a visitor to want what you have badly enough so they decide to trust you and take a chance on buying from an anonymous stranger.

This means we have to be very good at communicating through our website. We have to create a sales message that not only builds the desire in our visitors but also builds a huge amount of trust. It won’t matter how much they want your product if they think you’re some scam artist in Nigeria.

Why people don’t buy

There are just 3 underlying reasons people don’t buy from you:

  1. They don’t want it
  2. They can’t afford it
  3. They don’t trust you

When we look at the first two they are really interlinked. People will use the excuse that they can’t afford it when in reality they’re just saying they don’t want it badly enough. If people needed money for their sick child they would find it somehow… it’s really a question of motivation.

How to build desire in your visitors

To get people buying you have to talk in terms they understand… namely “what’s in it for them?” How would your product or service add value to their life? Once you can explain your business’ value in a clear and compelling way then you’re going to dramatically increase your sales.

This means you have to stop talking about what your product or service does (its features) and start talking about what it does for the clients (its benefits). Adding on to this you have to dig below the surface benefits and start getting to the real emotional core of why people buy a product or service. Do you want a new car because it’ll transport you more effectively or because it’ll make your friends jealous that you now own a Porsche?

How to build trust

Now it doesn’t matter how good you are at building desire if people don’t trust you. If I promise you that because you bought my $27 ebook you’re going to make a million dollars you’re probably going to laugh it off and forget all about it (I hope!). It’s not that you don’t really want a million dollars… you just don’t believe how wonderful my ebook is (it’s great but realistic).

We also trust people that we like. While many websites try to appear all businesslike and professional the reality is we don’t relate to them. I’m a big fan of putting your personality into your website as then visitors can see you’re a real, likeable person and they’re much more likely to trust you.

How to learn more about this stuff

In order to become great at sales and marketing whether it’s online or offline you just have to get out there and do it. By reading my website and subscribing to my email list you’re going to discover a ton of information that you can immediately put to use on your own website. You’ll also learn a lot by watching the free “Seven Ways To Turn More Website Visitors Into Paying Clients” webinar.

The good news is that when you start to master these concepts then your business (and any business you’re involved in) will be able to thrive. Most businesses struggle to get enough clients but with the skills you’re learning you won’t be one of those businesses. We’ll also talk occasionally about the challenge of having too many clients and what you need to do to grow your business then.

Communicating your unique message

When we talk about improving website conversion and sales we often get tied up in the numbers involved. “I have so many visitors and I only get this many sales” etc. It’s easy to focus in on these numbers and lose sight of the big picture.

At the end of the day increasing your sales is all about improving your communication. If you’re talking to a prospective client face-to-face then you have a certain amount of time to communicate why they should buy your product or service. It’s exactly the same when it comes to your website… only about 100 times more difficult.

When someone visits your website they don’t have to be polite and listen to you ramble on. They can click the back button any time they want and go visit someone else’s website. That’s why your website should be the ultimate at communicating your message.

It’s like having your best salesperson record exactly what they say to prospective clients so it can be repeated over and over again. In person or on the phone it’s called your sales script. Online it’s called your website.

It’s also important that your message is unique to your business. If you’re simply saying the same thing that all your competitors are saying then you’re going to struggle online. When your competitors are just one click away from you it’s important to get your message right so the visitor wants to find out more.

So if your unique message has anything to do with the “best products” or “best service” you may be in trouble. Because all your competitors are likely to be saying the same thing. I haven’t met a business yet who honestly tells their potential clients they have the “second best products and service in town.”

Personally I find this time of year to be perfect for asking yourself the hard questions about your business. It’s often the time we think about what we’d like to achieve in the coming year and set goals for ourselves. So as you set your sales goals for this year ask yourself what portion you’d like to come from your website.

It’s also a great time to take a look at the message your business is communicating. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again because I still haven’t heard a more elegant question than Dan Kennedy’s…

“Why should I do business with you – over all other alternatives – including doing nothing at all?”

The answer to that one question is what your website should be saying to every visitor you have. Whilst it’s not always the easiest question to answer it’s worth taking the time to think about it. Because once you have this answer it becomes a lot easier to increase your website sales.

Increase Website Sales By Building Better Relationships

Increasing your website sales is all a matter of building better relationships online. Selling over the internet is one of the hardest ways to sell anything… simply because we don’t have that personal touch with the potential client. This is why we need to do our best to replicate an offline relationship when we’re operating online.

Sales is all about the relationship. When we think about it we generally buy from people we like and trust. How many times have you decided not to buy something you actually wanted just because of the way the salesperson presented themselves?

Now building a relationship face-to-face is a lot easier than doing it online but this doesn’t mean we can’t do it. You can also do ok selling online from a faceless website that builds no relationship. However if you want to amplify your results and make more sales then you’ll want to build better relationships.

The important thing to remember is that website visitors are not just some number you see in your analytics package… they’re people who want what you’re offering.

Becoming “unprofessional”

Most website owners seem to be scared about appearing “unprofessional” to their visitors… whatever that means. They like to pretend they’re some big faceless corporation that does millions of dollars of sales online. However the truth is most buyers prefer to deal with a real person as they know they’ll be looked after.

Think about some of the service providers you visit on a regular basis. You’re probably not shopping around for a new hairdresser every time you need a haircut as you’ve built a relationship with one in particular. This is probably the same for your car mechanic, dentist, doctor and even your favorite restaurants, bars and cafes.

We like familiarity and this is what our relationships provide us with. We know what to expect before we arrive. And the irony is that you probably have businesses that you visit that don’t even give you great results but you still visit them anyway because of the relationship you’ve formed.

But I digress… here are some ways to help build personal relationships with your website visitors:

Unleash your personality – Your personality is your strongest point of difference in your arsenal. It’s something your competitors can never replicate (although they may try) and can help you stand out. So never be afraid of using your personality when it comes to communicating through your website.

Be a real person – We’re surrounded by marketing that is based on a world of make believe. Now while everyone likes to live the fantasy it’s always nice to come back to earth and deal with a real person at the end of the day. Present yourself as a real person with warts and all to deepen your relationships even further.

Be unique – As you present your personality to the visitors remember to pick out what makes you unique to make yourself really stand out. It’s most effective if your uniqueness also resonates with your visitors but not necessarily. You’ll be amazed at some of the random things I put into my content and the responses I receive.

Be genuine and authentic – I want to be clear that we’re not inventing a personality to fit your market as eventually you’ll be found out. You want to take natural parts of your life and share them with your visitors. You should always come from a place of authenticity as our aim is to build trust… not destroy it.

I should also mention that you’re going to find some people on the planet who don’t like your personality and uniqueness… that’s just a part of life. The good news is for all the haters you attract you should be attracting equal (and hopefully greater) amounts of people who love what you’re doing. So don’t mind the haters and keep on fighting the good fight.

What you do next

Look at how you’re communicating with your visitors at the moment and decide right now how you can make it more interesting. The next step is to simply jump in and see what kind of results you receive. Just note that some people won’t like the transition while others will love it… as I said above this is just a fact of life so keep going and the results will follow.

And if you’d like to learn more ways to achieve better relationships with your website visitors use my Automated Selling Machine course.

What are you really selling?

I’m currently reading The Ultimate Marketing Plan by Dan Kennedy (always listen to Dan!) and it has a useful list in it on the 5 steps people make before they buy something. The steps are:

  1. Awareness of need and/or desire
  2. Picking the “thing” that fulfills the need/desire
  3. Picking the source of the thing
  4. Accepting the source’s price/value argument
  5. Finding a reason to act now

Now all of these steps are important but I want to hone in on steps 2 and 3 as it applies to a client that I’m currently working with.

What are you really selling?

While I can’t get specific with client details this is an interesting dilemma that I find many businesses face. It involves different levels of what they’re selling and how we break those down. It’s also about answering all of the questions in a buyers mind.

To explain better I’ve made up example to substitute for my real client.

The different levels of car buying

If you want to buy a car then there are a few different levels of decisions to make. I would say the first one is if you want to buy a new or used car. So if you own a used car lot you want to first sell the benefits of buying a used car over a new one.

On the next level you realize there are also a number of other used car businesses in the world so you’ll need to sell the benefits of buying from your particular used car lot over all other competitors.

When all this is done you can finally start trying to sell the actual product to the prospect (in this example one particular car). You’ll also notice that there might be other levels such as a particular brand or type of car the person wants.

Why is this important?

Consumers are surrounded by choices. They are pulverized with marketing messages every second of every day. This makes their buying decisions very hard.

I believe our main job as business owners is to provide our prospects with the best possible solution to their need or desire. This involves making them aware of the possibilities but then guiding them towards the best choice for them. The sale doesn’t come from railroading someone into buying your product (at least not if you want a repeat sale) but from helping them make the right choice for them.

By stepping through the various levels we clarify why they should buy what we suggest. We back up their emotional feelings with logical reasons. So when the time comes all they have to do is hand over the money.

The dangers of not following this process

I find many clients who only compete on a 2 dimensional level rather than the 3 (or more) dimensional levels we discussed above. Why this may seem like a silly example imagine a car dealer who has marketing that only states “We have used cars!” And then stop laughing because many businesses do this on a daily basis without realizing.

While you may not spell out every level in the process completely (or let people skip levels as required) you still need to be aware of the levels and be ready to guide people through them. At the end of the day it’s important to ensure your prospects turn into buyers.

What you do next

It’s time to go back and step through the process like someone who has never even heard of you before. Ask yourself if you’re answering all the questions and giving enough justification to purchase what you’re offering. I think  you’ll find you aren’t and if you really want to challenge me on this then feel free to post in the comments.

And of course you can also post if you want help breaking down the levels in your own business or industry based on a complete outsiders ignorance. This is usually the best way to go as it gives us a fresh perspective and allows us to see how other people view our business.

Make money from your marketing

The job of marketing is to increase your sales… plain and simple. You are investing in marketing because it should bring more customers through the door. And this means every dollar you spend on marketing should give you a positive return.

It’s just like anything else you might invest in. If you buy an investment property you expect the value to go up. If you buy shares you expect the value to go up.

So why invest in marketing any differently? When you invest in marketing it should return value. You don’t pay money for an accountant, stationary, vehicles, or offices and then not use them.

Can you handle the truth about marketing?

The truth is most marketing sucks. Marketing experts don’t want you to know this but the fact is most marketing doesn’t make money. That’s why brand marketing was invented so they could create measurements that have nothing to do with sales.

Brand awareness or similar measures are a complete waste of time. So what if I know the name of your product? That doesn’t mean I’m ever going to buy it.

It seems to me marketers are more worried about how you feel about a product than how many sales they get. And of course there are always marketing awards to be won that have nothing to do with sales. If you’ve hired a marketing or advertising company that is great at winning awards you should probably run the other way.

How to make money with your marketing in one easy step!

If you want to know if your marketing is working all you have to do is measure it. For every marketing effort you make you ask the obvious question “Did this bring me more sales?” In most cases you’ll find the answer is no.

Once you have a piece of paper in front of you that says how much you spent and how many sales the marketing campaign brought in it changes the marketing game forever. Don’t be fooled by experts that try to tell you it’s unmeasurable either.

The fact is all marketing is measurable if it’s done right. But this means you have to add one critical element to your marketing… an offer.

More on this mysterious offer thingy

In order for anything to be sold someone makes an offer. Usually in the form of “I’ll give you $x for your product.” This is the basis for all transactions in one form or another.

So doesn’t it make sense to make an offer if you want to sell something? And doesn’t it make even more sense to make an offer in your marketing? Just be aware that all offers are not created equal.

Does your offer pack a punch?

The worst (and most used) type of offer sounds something like this: “We are <insert your business here>.” E.g.

  • We are plumbers
  • We are accountants
  • We are a Chinese restaurant

These offers give absolutely not reason for the consumer to choose you over another business.

A better offer is: “We will give you <insert results here>.” E.g.

  • We will fix your plumbing problems
  • We will lower your taxes
  • We have great tasting authentic Chinese food

But those are rather generic so let’s create a point of difference for why they should choose us and add a guarantee to show we actually mean it:

  • We’ll be hard at work fixing your plumbing one hour from your call… guaranteed
  • If we can’t find a way to lower your taxes our consultation is free
  • If our Chinese food isn’t the best you’ve had (outside of China!) we’ll tear up the bill

Now obviously you want an offer you can deliver on but the bolder the claim combined with your ability to guarantee it will have customers beating a path to your door. That is… providing you don’t make some other grievous marketing mistake. But that’s why you’re on this website… to learn how to avoid those mistakes.

What you do next

Decide you want marketing that makes money and decide how you can measure sales. Then come up with an offer to make your prospects and see the difference it makes to both response and your cash register. You’ll soon find out marketing that makes money is a lot more fun than the alternative.

What does being unique mean to you?

Today I want to follow up on my post about the Unique Selling Proposition or Unique Sales Promise as I prefer to call it. I think the concept of being unique needs a little more attention as it can sound a bit scary.

Being the best in the world

First off, you don’t have to be unique compared to the entire world. As I mentioned in the comments Seth Godin rightly states that while you want to be “the best in the world” at something… it’s up to you to decide the size of your “world.”

Your world might be your local area, or your town/city, or your country, or the literal entire world. It’s up to you and I think you’ll find the best place to start is being unique in your local area or city first. Get that right and then worry about your plans for world domination.

How to be unique

Now if you have a new product – that’s easy – but what about us business owners that have lots of competition. Let’s say you run a dry cleaners… all dry cleaners clean clothes (in theory) so how do you become unique?

Well you could do it by specialising in one particular area (like stain removal) or you could focus on customer service (very friendly staff or clothes pickup service, etc) or you could have unique marketing (which you should do anyway). There are a number of ways to make any business unique… even in industries that have been around forever.

Have a unique voice and personality

You can make the experience with your business unique by injecting a little personality and fun into it. If you visit a small business website they almost always try to look bigger than they are. They never mention the owner and like to tell you “we do this” even if there’s only one person involved.

I think this is a mistake and you – as a business owner – should let your unique voice speak through the business. People don’t buy from businesses – they buy from people – so you shouldn’t be hiding your personality away. Customers want to know they can ring up and there’s a real person on the line… and preferably not one in a call centre in India.

My personal example of uniqueness

There are heaps of people that know about marketing in New Zealand. There’s one company that says a lot of the same things I talk about and have been doing it for over 10 years. The problem I see… their information is just so boring!

I love learning about marketing but I’m not going to force myself to read a book that puts me to sleep… even if it has valuable lessons. So I bring my unique voice and personality to this blog and my writing. I want you to enjoy learning about this stuff as much as I do and I hope it shows.

Just do something

Again – as I commented on my previous post – you don’t need to take your marketing too seriously. While there are millions of factors of why people buy and tiny little nuances in great marketing… does it really matter to your business?

If you go away and implement some form of Unique Sales Promise – even if you only get it 10% right – you’re going to be leaps and bounds in front of your competitors. You’ll be able to refine it over time but the important thing is to just get started.

Relax and have fun with it

Plus, I’ve learnt the hard way that trying too hard when it comes to marketing will make your results worse. It turns people off when you show that desperation of “buy now or the world will end!!!” that new marketers tend to have (not pointing fingers… I’ve been there too!).

The funny thing is the less you care about the sale, the easier it’ll come. All of my recent meetings with potential clients have come from them requesting to see me. And I use no fancy “closing techniques” either… it’s just a question of what we do next.

Take action now

Marketing is not difficult. It’s just finding people who want your solution and providing it for them. The biggest step is doing something.

There have been some key posts this week so just take some time on the weekend to write down some action steps for your business. At least come up with an idea of your Unique Sales Promise. Your business will thank you for it.

Is a Unique Selling Proposition a waste of time?

The term Unique Selling Proposition (USP) was first coined by Rosser Reeves back in the early 60s and misused ever since. It’s now common business jargon thrown around by many and truly understood by few. In recent times the USP has gotten a bad rap due to its constant misuse… so let’s take a closer look.

What is a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

Here is Reeves 3 part definition from Reality in Advertising (1961):

  1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.”
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product.

And to be a little clearer, some good examples are:

  • Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.”
  • FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”
  • Dove: “Won’t dry your skin like soap can.”

Tom Monaghan created a USP for Domino’s Pizza that revolutionised an industry. Now, we take for granted fast pizza delivery but Domino’s Pizza used this one consumer frustration to grow its business for about a decade. The story is quite fascinating but since I only have anecdotal info on it we’ll leave it for another day when I can do some more research.

Bad USPs are everywhere

Most businesses don’t have a USP… the owner’s haven’t sat down and figured out why they’re in business and why clients would want to buy from them. Just because you’re a plumber… why should you fix my plumbing?

The 2nd biggest problem is the business owner doesn’t put their USP out front for everyone to see. I constantly find this with clients and the first question I always ask is Dan Kennedy’s classic copyright protected question of the ages:

“Why should I choose to do business with you versus every other competitive option available, including doing nothing at all or whatever I am doing now?”

And the strange thing is… most clients have really good answers. But the problem is they don’t state it anywhere in their marketing or on their website.

Sometimes I’m given a bland answer like “we have the best service.” Compared to what? How? And can you prove it? Then they’ll tell me their story and they really do have great service… but they haven’t spelled it out.

It’s easy to say you have “great service” – and most businesses say they do – but until you prove it your words are meaningless. That’s why I’d like to rework the USP concept a little…

Introducing the Unique Sales Promise

Now I hate to be a creator of new jargon and management speak but to me this wording is a lot clearer to understand. For every sale you make you are promising to deliver something that is unique to your business. This steps it up a notch… because you must always keep your promises.

The Unique Sales Promise has to be backed by a guarantee as well. It’s no good promising something if you’re not willing to back it up. Remember, we need to pull out all the stops if we want prospects to trust your business enough to try what you’re offering.

Let’s look at some examples

For the service industry that tends to miss appointments. Who has experienced plumbers who say they’ll show up at 10am and don’t get there until 4pm?

“We’re there on time… or the jobs free”

For the restaurant that has friendly service…

“Our staff will be the friendliest people you’ve met all day… Guaranteed.”

For the stain removal business…

“We’ll remove your stain or hand you $100 on the spot”

While these examples are far from perfect I hope they give some ideas to get started. You’ll probably find your USP will improve over time and I continue to improve my own as well.

Find the biggest frustration and eliminate it

[Before you take this the wrong way and think it's some kind of pitch... I'm not taking new clients right now so don't even ask.]

Let’s take my business, I think it’s incredibly frustrating to spend money on marketing and not being able to measure the results. I believe if you spend a $1 on marketing you should at least get back your $1. So my Unique Sales Promise for my clients is:

“More money from your marketing… Guaranteed.”

So if my clients don’t make more money from my work I give them a complete refund… and no it hasn’t happened yet… *phew*

Is it a big promise? Yes. Do I take on a lot of risk? Yes. But it gets me clients that stay around a long time.

A plea about price

While this deserves an entire new article… I just want to point out that you should never position your business as the “cheapest” or focus on “great prices.” This is not a sustainable business advantage and you will always find someone willing to slash their prices to beat you.

If you’re the cheapest in your market… raise your prices now. If you have to up-skill to do it – fine – but do whatever it takes to raise your prices at least to the level of the competition.

I also have a problem with being “affordable” – affordable for who? A homeless person or a billionaire? – and “value for money” – every sale that takes place offers value for money or the customer wouldn’t buy it. This is known as supply and demand.

What you do next…

Have a think about what exactly your business offers that is unique. Ask the Dan Kennedy question and put your answer into a nice, easy to understand format. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how effective a Unique Sales Promise can be.

Have a position

A lot of businesses I see don’t have a position. Or, they have a position, but they don’t communicate it clearly to prospects.

Your positioning is your competitive advantage. It’s the reason your prospects should choose you over all other alternatives. But if you don’t tell anyone what it is then you’re wasting your time.

It’s no good just saying you have great customer service… doesn’t every business say that? And how many actually do in the end? If you want to be known for great customer service then give examples and explain what you do is so special and why your customers keep coming back.

If you want to be known for high quality then explain why your goods and services are of a higher quality and why it’s important to your prospect.

So have a think about what your business stands for and whether you’re communicating it clearly. Then, extra for experts, get someone who knows nothing about your business to look over your communications and see if they can identify your positioning.