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Mar 15, 2019

If you are an eCommerce seller you MUST, MUST, MUST nail the issue of product differentiation. What is it? It’s figuring out what makes your product different from the others in your marketplace. Why do you need to know that? Because it’s going to dictate everything about how you market, how you refer to your product, how you iterate on what you offer, and more.

eComm sellers who do not figure out how to differentiate their product will struggle with sales and eventually wind up washing out - because it’s almost impossible to sell something that is generic. On this episode, I reveal the process I teach my students that will enable them to create their own USP (unique selling proposition). If you take the time required to do this work, you will never regret it.

Product differentiation is a way to position yourself against the competition

If you want a real-life illustration of why product differentiation is vital, go to Amazon right now and search for the terms your customers would use in search if they were interested in buying your product. Go ahead - do it! What you’ll see is that there are many, many sellers trying to sell products similar to yours.

Here’s the question you have to ask yourself: “Why should anyone do business with you given all the choices available to them in the marketplace?” You have GOT to answer that question - and do so in a compelling way - if you are going to be the seller they choose to buy from. THAT is why you have to discover your USP. This episode walks you through the steps of identifying YOUR unique selling proposition.

When you identify your USP (unique selling proposition), you’re trying to make an "apples to oranges" comparison.

Buyers are naturally going to compare your product to the others in the market. That’s what shopping is all about. You want to help them make the comparison by highlighting the things about your product that make it different and unique. You’re giving them reasons to pick your product over others.

Ultimately you want to de-commoditize your product. Make it stand apart so dramatically that the buyer is making a clear choice in favor of your product for a specific reason. It’s not a decision of choosing between different kinds of apples, it’s choosing oranges INSTEAD OF apples. Find out how to make your products stand out like that, on this episode.

Start with a features and benefits list to identify your USP

The first thing you want to do as you attempt to identify what differentiates your product from others is to get out a sheet of paper or to pull up a blank computer screen. What you’re about to create is something you will go back to over and over to refine your USP throughout the life of your product. So create it in a format you’ll keep and be able to reuse.

Make a list of all the features and benefits of your product - every single one you can think of. If you have others on your team, pull them in on this process. Once your brain is sore from thinking, identify the ONE primary benefit of your product that is unique to it. You want to figure out how to showcase it - and the process of doing so won’t be easy. It will take time and lots of rephrasing of your statements to get it right, but don’t give up. The work you’re doing will be the lifeblood of your marketing and messaging.

Once you have it, bake your USP into everything you do surrounding the product - from product descriptions to naming, to how you advertise it. You want customers to have no doubt about why your product is a clearly superior choice in the market.

Here are some of the ways you could differentiate your product

Brand value/authenticity/ingredients - this is something you see done all the time with food or health supplement products. Coors is a great example - made with Rocky Mountain Spring water. As far as I know, that’s something no other beer company is able to say.

Mission - this is something that Two Blind Brothers does extremely well. They sell shirts, but they do so for one reason: their profits go to stamp out blindness. It’s a way to make your product stand for something beyond its benefits to the customer.

Faith-based - many companies bake in a faith component to what they do. Chick-fil-A and In and Out Burger are overtly clear about being “Christian owned” companies. It’s an intentional decision that is important to them and many of the people they serve.

Veteran-owned - if a company or product supplier says they are veteran-owned, they are appealing to those who care about the country or want to support others who have given a significant portion of their lives to defend it. The company’s owners are also communicating that they are hard-working, reliable, etc.

Price - I put price last on this list because it’s very difficult to use effectively as a differentiator. The only way you can leverage it is to promise that you’ll always have the lowest price available - as Wal-Mart does - and you can only make that promise if you have a process in place that enables you to always have the lowest price. It’s hard to do when you’re one of the little guys.

I cover even more ways you can leverage your UPS for product differentiation on this episode. And I offer a free video to you to help you dial in this process even more. Be sure you listen.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:52] Why you always need to refine your fundamental propositions
  • [4:24] You’ve heard of a USP (unique selling proposition), but what is yours?
  • [5:25] The main thing to know about your USP
  • [6:43] Use your USP as a way to showcase your primary benefit
  • [8:59] Why you need to be careful about using price as a differentiator
  • [10:10] Learn to turn on your radar to identify other product’s USP
  • [13:32] Do you have a mission that can be used as a USP?
  • [15:19] Using Membership as a powerful USP
  • [17:35] What matters more than anything is that you DO this process

Resources & People Mentioned

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