Your Niche. Your Unique Selling point. Unique Value Proposition. Compelling Value Proposition. Useful Value Proposition.
Whatever you call it – and that’s a whole topic in itself – why is it so darned difficult to find it, define it and then ‘sell it’ to the people you want to buy your stuff.
Okay, so you (kind of) know that being unique makes your business different from everyone else’s.
It tells your customers why they should buy from you instead of your competitors.
And when you have managed to nail it, it makes your message stronger, your marketing efforts easier, and you don’t waste precious time trying to appeal to people who won’t buy from you.
In a nutshell, it gives you an unfair advantage over your competitors.
But the fact is, it takes a shed load of creativity and a ton of research to find it.
For me, the process of defining – and probably more importantly refining it – has taken some time. (And incidentally, I don’t think there’s any shame in that – I think it’s been more a case of keeping a watchful eye on the market and being prepared to ‘tweak’ in response).
These are just some of the lessons I’ve learned, can you relate to any of them?
1. Perceived value:
Despite the rhetoric, it’s not about what your target market needs. People need food, need clothes, need shelter, and so forth. Yet we have different types of products and different brands, all providing a range of choices within those products and brands. A car can get you from A to B. Yet the buyer of a Lamborghini clearly uses more than the need to get from A to B to influence his or her decision to buy that particular car, over let’s say a Skoda. (No cheeky jokes here, please).
The process of defining what’s unique about my business, has for me, meant constantly reminding myself of the value that I am giving others – in a nutshell, helping them spend less time worrying about their business and more time enjoying their lives. Have a think about your own business and the value you offer your customers. What’s in it for them? Is it to save them time? Make them feel better? Help them do something better? Make their lives easier? Stop them from making mistakes? Help them save money? Help them make money? Really strip everything back to the core and determine what that essential something is.
Sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how many people find this difficult to get. It doesn’t have to be gimmicky and it can mean uniquely ‘you’, in other words, built around your personality. (Tip: Read ‘Purple Cow’ by Seth Godin).
This is not necessarily about finding a catchy slogan – although that can help, as long as the product/service behind the slogan delivers. It’s whether people think of YOU whenever they have a particular problem to solve. Do others recommend you as THE go to person in that particular field?
4. Emotional Connection
Back to that Lamborghini versus the Skoda again. Whichever one you prefer, there’s an emotional connection involved in the decision-making and buying process. Do people emotionally connect with you? Have you/your products/services tapped into their fears, worries, desires or frustrations? And do they, as a result, really get you?
The Boring Part
I think the reason why business owners don’t take the time to nail their niche, is because it’s downright difficult to do.
It takes a good deal of research to really understand who it is you’re trying to sell to. And that’s the seemingly boring part.
Gathering data, taking surveys or polls, determining where your customers hang out, so that you can hang out with them to gather even more data – it takes time. It means getting off your butt and away from your desk. At times, out of your comfort zone.
Unfortunately, the Internet has made us inherently lazy, lulled is into thinking Social Media will save the day.
Social Media certainly helps, but having real conversations with real people needs to happen off-line in the real world.
I happen to think that it’s fun getting out there and talking to people, networking with them, finding out about them, engaging with them.
In fact, it’s something that you should never stop doing. You need to keep talking, keep networking, keep engaging, keep finding out.
But the first step is nailing that niche!
Take your time over it. It’ll give you a clearer picture of how to promote your business going forward.