In today’s economy one way to get more work is to have some advantage over your competitors. If you have been getting my newsletter for some time or you have read one of my reports – you will have heard me talk about this before. And rightly so – it is vital.
Consider this. My local yellow pages directory has over 13 pages of adverts for plumbers – companies who pay up to £5000 a year for their advert.
Many of the advertisers claim to be “local”; most offer 24 hour emergency call outs; others claim to be “specialists”; some are Corgi and Oftec registered. Almost all of the adverts list the services they offer.
However, not one gives me a compelling reason why I should call them instead of their competitors. This leaves me no option but to phone round until I find the one who will either give me the best price – or one I like the sound of. Sound familiar?
Surprisingly, very few plumbers really make more than a token attempt to distinguish themselves from their competitors. The usual strategy is to foolishly proclaim to all householders “Here we are, give us your business for no justifiable, rational reason.”
However this is great news for you. It means that you can cash in on what your competitors are doing wrong. If you can develop a compelling reason why people should choose you – you will stand head and shoulders above your competition. This compelling reason is your Unique Selling Point or USP.
To demonstrate how important your USP is I am going to give you an example of an air conditioning repair company I read about in Las Vegas in the US.
This air conditioning company got 90% of their business from the yellow pages and like every other company their advert had the company name plastered across the top in huge letters. Bullet points let everyone know that they provided 24-hour service, that they serviced most major brands, and that they had 22 years of experience, etc.
Since their ad was relatively large, they were able to build a respectable business in spite of their me-too approach. Each year they were able to generate enough revenue to pay for the ad, keep the repairmen busy and add a new truck or two to their fleet.
What more could small-business owners ask for?
A lot more! The first step in developing their USP was to determine what customers wanted most from an air conditioning repair company. In the 8-month long Las Vegas summer, even a couple of hours without an air conditioner was sheer misery. Clearly, fast service was to be the premise for their USP.
But everyone else already claimed to have fast service. Some companies even put FAST SERVICE in big headlines at the top of their ads. It wasn’t as if nobody else had ever figured out that being fast was important. The funny thing was that nobody else had ever figured out a way to say it in a way that would allow them to stand head and shoulders above the competition.
The next year they ran a half page ad as usual (no additional expense), but changed the wording to say, “Because we have 58 repairmen on call 24 hours a day to man our 27 service trucks, we can guarantee that your home or business will be cool within 2 hours of your call – or there’s no charge for the repair.” And that was just the headline!
The rest of the ad went on to explain that if the technicians were too busy to fix the unit right then, or if the repair would take longer than 2 hours, portable units would be brought in to cool the house at no extra charge until the repair was completed. Bottom line, the customer would be cool in a hurry.
The number of calls the ad generated quadrupled in less than one month after the new book came out. More importantly, they were able to convert 50% of the calls into jobs – up from 38% before. Gross revenues soared, and new trucks were bought to keep up with demand. The end of the year profit for the owners was higher than they thought they would ever see.
The new wording of their USP – “fast service” – was the key element in the company’s turnaround. Obviously, other factors contributed as well, like the company’s underlying dedication to fulfilling the “big promise” of fast service.
What is your USP – how are you presenting this to your customers? If you do nothing else – get this right and you will get more sales – I guarantee it.
Let me know how you get on.