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Archive for the ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ Category

Differentiate Your Small Business from Competitors by Making Yourself the Go-To Authority in Your Field

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

by: Geoff Ficke

Differentiate Your Small Business from Competitors by Making Yourself the Go-To Authority in Your Field

A question I am often asked by entrepreneurs starting a new business operation is, “How do I stand out from my competition”. There are a number of options that can be
chosen to accomplish this goal. Resources and actual experience go far in determining which route to take.

If financial resources are not an issue, and it almost universally is, smothering your target market with advertising is the most commonly chosen method to make you and your enterprise stand out from the pack. But there are better paths for those working with minimal assets. Here are a few to consider.

Write a Blog

Let’s assume that you are an insurance agency owner. I live in a very tiny community and even here we have at least six insurance agents in the county. Insurance agents are ubiquitous. By writing a Blog, and constantly updating the content, an agent can become identified as a purveyor of tips and information that makes the purchase of insurance less painful. Whatever the field of endeavor try to impart knowledge that is of value to consumers. Do not overtly attempt to sell a product or service.

Perfect the Advertorial

An Advertorial is an advertisement that looks and reads like an editorial. A question is posed that pertains to your particular business entity. You answer the question with clarity and an air of studied knowledge. This subtly reinforces your bona fides as an expert in your field.

We have used Advertorials successfully for years to build our clients reputations as experts. People love to receive information and tips. They do not like to be sold. The Advertorial, if properly written and executed, will not only build a professional reputation they will be a driver of sales and traffic to your business.

We have used the Advertorial strategy to promote Wellness and Weight Loss Clinic owners, Beauty Salon and Day Spa businesses, Gourmet Food and Beverage marketers, Cosmetic, Skin Care, Fashion, Perfumers, Pet Products, Hunting and Fishing, Sporting Goods, DIY, and Jewelry start-ups, local merchants and service providers. This technique can be made to work to fit almost any Sales Promotion budget.

Public Relations

If you hire a new employee announce the appointment in a Publicity Release. If you launch a new product, open a branch office, add an account, attend a Trade Show, take a continuing education course, or experience any positive activity relating to your business write and circulate a Publicity Release.

The local media in your trading area loves these types of notices and publication is FREE! There are numerous FREE on-line services which publish PR Releases. Trade journals are awash in industry specific announcements that are generated by PR Releases and are published for FREE! Build a data base of clients, past customers and send them PR Releases announcing positive news. Visit my web-site and click on the Public Relations tab. The format we utilize for the Releases that you can view is the standard PR industry template which you should use for your PR’s.

Public Speaking

Offer to speak to local service clubs such as the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Lions, Forrester’s, etc. The announcement that you will be speaking on a topic that is in your professional wheelhouse reinforces that you are the “pro from Dover” in this space. Church, civic and philanthropic groups are always seeking knowledgeable speakers to enrich their meetings.


In order to speak to groups as described above, join them. The best advertisement and strategy to make you and your business known is to participate in local and industry specific groups and boards.

Have a Fresh Web-site

I am a believer that way too many people have web-sites. If content is not exciting a site can actually signify that your business is poorly run. People with new business concepts, but no ability to conduct commerce, put up sites that only serve to tip off competitors about their intentions before they are market ready.

A bright, contemporary, well managed web-site does not have to cost a fortune or be cumbersome for even the smallest Micro-Business to handle. There are numerous service firms that can build sites inexpensively and will constantly add blog and PR updates. Search engines will crawl web-site pages every few weeks and if a site is key search term enriched it will move higher in page rankings.

Write Articles

Let’s assume you operate a Prototype Design facility. There is a good bit of mystery to creating working, production quality Prototypes. These units are essential in  discovering manufacturing logistics, engineering quirks, cost of goods, and much more. If an Industrial or Design Engineer wishes to distinguish themselves there is no better way than to regularly publish 400 or more word articles on topics germane to modeling Prototypes.

Article Submission firms abound on the web-site. Many publish for FREE. Some charge a small publishing fee. A few can be utilized for targeting specific demographic groups or industries. When you publish an article you will be perceived as a person with a level of expertise in your field of work.

These are only a few of the many strategies that can be employed to separate you and your business from a swarm of competitors. As you execute these types of self-promotional elements you will discover that they become easier as you perfect your skill sets. There is an old adage among writers: “Writers write”. There is a similar maxim for entrepreneurs: “Successful businesses self-promote”.

Capitalize on Contemporary Realities When Creating a Unique Selling Proposition

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

My marketing consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, reviews hundreds of new product ideas each year. We specialize in the consumer product space and consider submissions for product specific categories such as beauty products, foodstuffs, pet care items, sporting goods and gift items among many others. If the item can sit on a store shelf, or can be sold through electronic retailing, we are keen to review and critique the opportunity.

It is rare that we are introduced to a new idea that the creator does not position as unique, fresh, novel, and/or different from competitive products or services. Every inventor or entrepreneur is seeking to create or fill a niche, called a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) by those in the marketing/branding trade. Occasionally they score a bulls-eye at the initial presentation. Most often, however, the product cannot differentiate itself and create significant separation from existing goods. Sometimes this is a prescription for failure. Other times we can massage an item until fresh features and benefits are added that justify a USP.

I often wonder why our contemporary times, news, personal and professional environments and the life’s journey we all are undertaking is not more useful in identifying commercially viable business concepts with strong USP’s. Today, there is a land rush occurring to find answers to environmental, wellness, medical, obesity and energy issues and problems. Successfully addressing these societal concerns would be of immense import for the inventor and consumer of problem solving new commercial services and products.

In the United States we are consumed with a heated debate about reinventing healthcare. One of the opportunities that should be readily apparent to all entrepreneurs immersed in the details of this issue is that medical doctors are concerned about their future income. Modern medical practices are housed in expensive medical complexes, contain the latest and most costly technology, employee nurses and technicians that are highly trained and compensated and doctors face shrinking remuneration from insurance companies and government programs.

A store within an office, or a clinic within a clinic, offering a tangential service or products would be of interest to many medical practitioners, IF, the opportunity could be presented as a logical extension of the services they offer and profit generation can be easily demonstrated. A proprietary Body Mass Index Test clinic, and a range of supplements for sale, computer generated dietary directives and training could be of interest in a country with the obesity problem we have.

The creation of a product that would enable parents of new, inexperienced teen-age drivers to chart their cars operating systems while driving alone would be of immense value. A device which monitors engine rpm, speed, use of signals, braking velocity, radio volume, blocking cell phone signals while car is in motion and distance travelled would serve to put a damper on reckless behavior. Insurance companies would be thrilled to provide discounts for drivers operating cars equipped with such a device. What concerned parent would not want the comfort of having such a product in their child’s car with a monitor they could follow at home?

The market is flooded with cosmetic options to fight anti-aging and wrinkles. Creams, implements, Botox, cosmetic surgery and supplements are everywhere. And yet, while much is addressed to treating the eye, face, lips and throat, there is virtually nothing that effectively targets hands, wrists and the body. A woman with a face lift, or a Botox injection, is completely given away by the lines and wrinkles on the wrist and back of hands.

Energy saving devices, wellness products, entertainment systems, product portability, packaging innovations, recycling concepts, weight control, pet and child safety and anti-aging regimens are only a few areas ripe for fresh USP’s. Successfully penetrating these niches will reward innovators with fame, riches and immense personal satisfaction. Even small niche advances can be exceedingly rewarding.

Differentiation for a Small Brand Is Essential – Consider Organic Tea

Monday, August 17th, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

Recently my marketing consulting firm was approached by the owners of a young organic tea company seeking guidance in piercing the retail product distribution channel. The entrepreneur’s behind the venture were hard working, passionate and fully committed; both personally and financially. They had an excellent product. They also had no sales traction.

After considerable consultation, and many questions about the history of the product and the owner’s backgrounds, the reason for their futile sales performance became crystal clear: They had not identified a Unique Selling Proposition to differentiate their teas from the numerous, established large, medium and small competitors that offer endless product choices in the category. This is usually the problem with any new product offering in an already mature consumer product universe.

What can the new startup do to counteract the existing advantages enjoyed by older, established competitors? The following are but a few options to consider when seeking a differentiation strategy to support a Unique Selling Proposition:

Create a Proprietary Process
Create a handling process that is positioned as proprietary, unique to the product. Another alternative is an enhancement that purportedly improves product performance. In cosmetics we often work with laboratories to craft a bio-engineering process or ingredient stability that we tag with an esoteric descriptive moniker.

Artisan Crafting
In a world of mass production and impersonal mass marketing, the clear profession of a hand crafted provenance can separate a product from giant competitors. Artisan workmanship adds an element of personal skill and old world pride that make each product unique. Artesian crafted products usually deserve and justify higher prices from discerning consumers.

Fair Trade
Many raw materials, flora and herbs are now being purchased through “Fair Trade” associations. Some are country specific. Others are product specific. They insure that indigenous peoples, farmers and tradesmen receive a fair price for providing a better product. In the case of teas, fruits and coffee beans, this produce if often graded according to stringent criteria to insure quality and consistency.

Identify a Rare, Exotic Component
The perfume industry is famous for highlighting rare, precious and exotic plants that produce highly prized essential oils to make fragrances powerful, long lasting, novel. Years ago I was a partner in a perfume company that utilized “tagetes’, a rare east African flower with a very short growing season, a huge flower head and a distinctive oil that provided an amazing “dry down” when blended with more subtle flowers. This type of exotic component story can be transported to foods, drinks and other consumable products.

Include a component, ingredient or mineral that can only be found in one, or very few, spots in the world. This creates the image of rarity and exclusivity in the new product. Moroccan argane oil is one such ingredient. New Zealand harvested manuka is another. Often, ingredients or components of this type are expensive and are included in production formulae in small, trace amounts.

Several years ago, we had a client that made luxury pet clothes and accessories. She achieved success by offering a customized embroidery service to her products. The customer could order accessories with their pets name embroidered on the goods, choosing font, color combinations and placement of the logo. These personalized pieces were much more profitable than the generic retail products she sold.

Limited Edition
A customized handbag designer, much like a famous artist, makes limited runs of her designs. She numbers and signs each, and at the end of each series she retires the pattern, die cuts and design. This insures the exclusivity of her hand bags; supports top end pricing and insures brand desirability. The luxury goods category is rife with this type of short run, exclusive brand protection strategy.

Enhanced Benefits
Recently we were introduced to a simple, excellent cost saving accessory. The owner was having limited success selling the item as a tool that consumers could utilize to lengthen consumable product usage. We identified a “wellness/safety” feature that had been missed. As an anti-bacterial accessory, that will provide excellent product/money savings, the product now sports dual benefits to consumers and is beginning to enjoy success on retail shelves.

These are only a few strategies that entrepreneur’s can utilize to successfully launch and market new consumer products. In each case, we strive to craft a guerilla marketing campaign that will highlight perceived advantages inherent in a client’s item. If they do not exist, we research options and reinvent the product, or simply the marketing strategy, to highlight the Unique Selling Proposition that was not encompassed in the products core. Successful entrepreneurs have been doing exactly this, often times without realizing they were doing so, for as long as there has been a consumer product marketplace.