“What makes your business different from your competitors?”
I’m sitting with my fingers poised above my keyboard, waiting for an answer from the owner of a landscaping company whose website I am about to write.
After a long silence, my new client says, “Uh. Our customer service.”
This is a bad answer. Customer service doesn’t make anybody’s business different.
At least, not as a broad, generalized term.
Customer service is in fact expected. It’s a basic thing. You don’t get a cookie for offering good customer service. You get repeat customers.
You need a unique selling proposition that’s actually defined a little bit.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to figure out your own.
What do other companies do that bug you? A lot?
When I was on the phone with my landscaper, I got to hear a long rant about landscaping fabrics.
This is pure gold. It’s not just the fabrics that matter here. The landscaper who goes on this rant is telling me he cares about attention to detail, and he cares about picking and using the best materials on the market.
If I’d been on the phone with a different landscaper, I might have gotten a long rant about landscapers who don’t sit down with the homeowner to offer different plans and sketches before they begin working. That answer would have told the story of a company who places a high value on design. On achieving results through the power of advance planning.
Your USP may very well lie in your rants and pet peeves.
Because if you’ve been in business for more than a year, then you’ve seen some things which piss you off, and you’ve decided not to do those things. You’ve decided you’re never going to create certain problems. You’re never going to cut certain corners. You’re never going to be as sloppy as some of the other companies that are out there.
Somewhere along the way you started responding to these peeves. You hired a professional designer so you could offer that service to each and every one of your customers. Or you went ahead and resigned yourself to charging more so you could use those top-notch materials which give customers the lasting results they can be really proud of.
If you can explain why you made those choices when your competitors aren’t making those choices, then you’ve got the beginnings of a great USP. Other people make Choice A. Choice A disgusts you. You took Choice B. Choice B is better for the customer. Here’s why it’s better.
And trust me, the USP buried in your rant is so much more interesting than hearing how you’ve been in business for over 25 years, how you’re licensed, bonded, and insured, and how you treat your customers with the utmost respect and care. Yawn. Everybody says that stuff.
You get bonus points if you can tell me exactly why doing it your way solves a big pain point for your customers. Then I can link your solution to their pain points and demonstrate why you are a true professional who is worthy of respect.
Do Some Competitor Research
It’s possible you are actually just some me-too business who hasn’t really developed their process yet. That’s okay…everyone’s got to start somewhere. Maybe you got into landscaping simply because you love landscaping and you’re pretty good at it. You got a few of your Mom’s neighbors to hire you and this has kept your business limping along, so you’ve never given much thought to doing anything different. So far, you’ve done things as you were taught to do them.
This is when you need to start really researching your competitors. Notice how they do things. Look at what they offer and what they don’t offer. You’ll run into things you think are pretty cool and pretty special. You’ll also run into practices you think are pretty bad practices.
You’ll start to have ideas. You’ll think: huh, nobody’s doing xyz, but that would be a pretty nice thing to offer to customers. Maybe I’ll start offering that. Or you’ll think: “Huh. Nobody’s really focusing on native landscaping. Maybe I’ll focus exclusively on native plant landscaping and appeal to the eco/green/busy people crowds.”
By doing this, you will take your business to the next level. You’ll get a great “elevator speech” when people ask what you do. You’ll get better web copy. You’ll convert more customers.
If rants and research don’t help you then you can also check out this handy guide from Fizzle.
If your customer service really is second-to-none there must be some specific way that you’re delivering that customer service. Try to drill down on what that is.
Do you text customers throughout the process so they know the progress of their order?
Do you take customers on some sort of walk-through of the work you’ve done?
Do you have a really great snack bar and hyper-fast internet in your service center?
Do you offer online booking that nobody else offers right now?
Think about those things that you do to go the extra mile. If they’re out of the ordinary they form a great basis for a unique selling proposition. Which in turn forms the basis for some excellent web copy.
A good copywriter can, of course, help you dig deep and articulate your USP. This can all happen during the discovery call.
It just tends to help, a lot, if you have some ideas prior to having that conversation. It can help unify a message that can be carried across all of your marketing materials which can in turn make your branding and presence in the marketplace a lot stronger.