By Katherine Gifford of Moraware
When you’re thinking about marketing your countertop business, the most important question you can ask is this: “Why should your customers buy countertops from you rather than another company?”
This line of thinking will help you create what’s called a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. This is a marketing term that sounds complicated, but the concept behind it is really very simple: what does your countertop shop offer that no one else does?
Once you can pinpoint that answer, you’ve found your USP. This is what you’ll use to differentiate yourself in the fabrication market.
What Is a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
At its core, your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is the thing that makes your countertop shop stand out from the pack. According to Neil Patel, a marketing guru, co-founder of NP Digital, and a New York Times bestselling author, a USP is what your business stands for.
Patel explains that many businesses get the USP all wrong because they want to stand for everything. Here’s the problem as Patel puts it: “When you attempt to be known for everything, you don’t become known for anything.”
An effective Unique Selling Proposition has four requirements:
- It must state the specific benefit you will get with the product.
- It must be a benefit that your competitors either cannot or do not offer.
- It must be so strong and compelling that it can move the masses.
- It must be tested.
While a Unique Selling Proposition doesn’t have to follow this formula exactly, here’s a fill-in-the-blank exercise to get you thinking:
“Our [company/product] is the only one that helps [prospects] solve [specific problem] by [main unique promise or benefit].”
You’re going to learn how to satisfy each of these requirements and walk away with an unbeatable position in the marketplace so you never have to compete with having the lowest price again.
Why Should I Spend Time Crafting a Unique Selling Proposition?
The goal of creating a USP is to reap the rewards, which include:
- Selling more than your competitors
- Charging higher prices
- Having higher-quality customers
Without a strong USP, your customer is in more control of the transaction than you are. You’re constantly in head-to-head battles with competitors, and you will be forever subject to the whims of the market.
A true USP gives you power in every negotiation. It gives you the power to close the deal, and it transforms mediocre advertising into GREAT advertising that wins customers with every campaign.
With it, you get the positioning and respect that make customers knock down YOUR doors and pay the prices you want to charge.
Who Is My Ideal Customer?
Here is your first step: choose who you’re selling to.
You can’t formulate an irresistible selling position without first determining who it is that you are selling to. This can be based on a specific demographic or a specific problem your customer faces.
To be clear, we’re focused on the fill-in-blank that has to do with who your prospects are.
“Our [company/product] is the only one that helps [prospects] solve [specific problem] by [main unique promise or benefit].”
In the marketing world, we do an exercise called “creating a buyer persona.”
What’s My Buyer Persona?
With this exercise, we write out everything about our buyer we can imagine that is relevant:
- Level of education
- Average income
- Social networks used
- Industry they work in
- Preferred methods of communication (Do they prefer texting? Talking on the phone? Emailing? Face-to-face?)
- Age of children
- Main challenges and pain points
When creating a buyer persona, you want to think about all of the customers you’ve helped in the past. What trends have you noticed? Do you find yourself communicating mainly with 40-year old married men who work blue-collar jobs and have 2 kids? Or are most of your customers 65-year old baby boomers who are highly educated and have money to spend?
If you can map out in your head who your buyer persona is, it’s so much easier to make business decisions based on that target audience.
You can even go so far as to name your persona. “Don the Dad” or “Betty the Baby Boomer” might sound bizarre, but this exercise is used by Fortune 500 companies to better understand who their end-user is.
Also, you may have more than one persona! Perhaps a portion of your customer base is newlyweds buying fixer-upper homes. Another portion may be middle-aged families looking to renovate their family home. Whatever your personas look like, map those out in as much detail as possible.
This is an invaluable exercise that will influence your advertising efforts, the way you train your staff, and even important business decisions that guide the future of your shop.
What Am I Selling?
Now, it’s time to choose what you’re selling. The key is to find something unique that will swing more buyers your way. So, what are you selling that is unique to you?
For many fabrication experts, it’s not the product that’s especially unique – it’s the customer service.
In an industry where unmet deadlines, unclear expectations, and over budget finishes are the norm, countertop shops that are reliable and communicate well with customers stand out.
If your service is what makes you unique, embrace it! Make the service before, during, and after the sale a part of your Unique Selling Proposition.
If you’re struggling to pinpoint what products or services you offer that are truly unique in your area, perhaps it’s not the type of granite or install method at all. Perhaps it’s your dedication to service and the relationship that makes up your Unique Selling Proposition.
You’re not just selling a countertop
You offer something unique, and you can use it to win more customers. Here are a few questions to get you thinking:
- What is it about your knowledge and skills that no one else in the countertop fabrication world can compete with?
- What is your experience or the story that got you where you are today?
- What is it about your personality that makes customers buy from you time and time again?
If you can answer any of the three questions above, and you can satisfy the four requirements of an effective USP, you are your Unique Selling Proposition.
If that’s not the case for you, your service or product may also be completely unique. Maybe you’re the only fabricator in town to offer custom painted backsplashes, or you are the only fabricator in the world to install Black Opal countertops. This alone may win you those high-paying customers.
What’s My Unique Angle?
Now that we’ve gotten the hardest parts out of the way, the next step is to choose your unique angle.
Having a unique angle has enabled thousands of businesses to become huge successes in just about every major industry.
FedEx used a unique angle to come onto the scene as the first freight company to offer overnight shipping. Their slogan made it unmistakable: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
TOMS Shoes is another great example of being the only shoe company to give back and donate a free pair of shoes to a child in need. “One for one.”
Although you don’t need to come up with your own catchy slogan for countertops, you do want to determine a unique angle that you can advertise.
Here’s a list of unique angles your business can take to differentiate yourself to your customers:
- A unique benefit, result, or outcome
- A unique deliverable
- A unique track record
- A unique level of customization
- A unique level of quality
- A unique environment or presentation
- A unique method or mechanism
- A unique experience of doing, using, or attending
- A unique bundle
- A unique price or payment plan
Can you promise something special about what your customers will get from working with you?
You already have a unique angle
Most businesses don’t know the power of having a unique angle and how it can transform sales. Your competitors don’t know this, and you want to be the one to do this first.
- Do you provide a higher level of quality that you can back up with data or proof?
- Do you have especially friendly or interesting employees?
- Is there a unique way or time frame that you deliver a finished kitchen or bath?
Go through the list of options above and ask yourself two questions:
- Do I already have a unique angle here that I’ve just never advertised?
- Can I take this concept and create a new angle in my business that I can start advertising?
A little creativity and ingenuity are all it takes to create a unique angle that is highly attractive to your customers. Start using this in your marketing, and your sales can literally change overnight.
If you want to have a reputation of being better than your competitors, sometimes being different is all it takes.
What’s My Negative Promise?
Most businesses are different because of what they do. Today, we’re going to establish why you’re different because of what you don’t do. A great example of this is the restaurant Baja Fresh. Instead of promoting their fresh ingredients and unique salsas, they position their chain based on what they don’t have.(No Microwaves, No Can Openers, No Freezers, No Lard, No M.S.G.) For Baja Fresh’s health-conscious target market, these statements create a lot of appeal.
With countertops, think about what it is that your customer doesn’t want. For starters, they don’t want to wait. They don’t want their kitchen or bathrooms under construction and inaccessible. They also don’t want to waste money, materials, or time.
What negative promise can you make that will strike a chord with your customers? Choose one that your competitors can’t compete with, and you’re set.
First, make a list of everything you don’t do, require, waste, or have. Consider using this in your marketing efforts as well as in your Unique Selling Proposition.
What’s My Time Frame?
Your next step is to add a time frame.
Domino’s Pizza used to promise a pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less. They were the only ones in their business to do so. Let’s determine what time frame you can promise that is better than your competitors.
Here are some questions to consider:
- If you hired more employees, can you promise an install within a certain amount of days?
- If you offer a 5-year warranty, are you able to make it 20?
- Would you promise 100% customer satisfaction for the lifetime they are in their home?
These are all ideas to help you establish a Unique Selling Proposition based on time. Promising a pizza delivered to your door is great. Promising a pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less is game-changing.
The key is to give your customers something they want that your competitors aren’t willing to give. This may seem too risky at first, but it is a surefire way to grow sales.
Do I Have a Gutsy Guarantee?
We have now reached the last step, and this step is imperative because it removes all risk from your customer. If you really want to win better, higher-paying customers, you have to add a gutsy guarantee.
When done the right way, removing risk for your customers essentially eliminates any objections they have in buying from you. If customers can see that you are the best, and there is little or no risk to buy from you, you can charge higher prices and close more sales than you have ever seen before.
Amazon is now known for having one of the most consumer-friendly return policies in the world, and it just so happens they are the largest company in the world. A gutsy guarantee? Absolutely. Has the risk paid off? Undoubtedly.
The way you reduce risk to a customer is by taking on the risk yourself. This happens when you provide a bold guarantee. Consider adding an “or else” statement:
- Or else we will refund
- Or else we will replace
- Or else we will repair
In our industry, these types of guarantees are risky because of the hard costs involved. However, instead of shying away because of the risk, let’s instead look at the potential gain.
Offer what your competitors won’t
First, your competitors probably aren’t willing to offer a refund guarantee. Offer one, and you can effectively win a lot of their prospects.
In practice, very few customers actually act on a refund or replacement guarantee, so my advice is to go big and go bold. Better to win a lot of sales than to worry about the money you will lose to make an unsatisfied customer happy or the small percentage of people who will take advantage if they’re allowed to.
Even still, there are ways you can eliminate abuse and mitigate the risk you are putting on yourself by offering a gutsy guarantee.
For starters, you can make your guarantee conditional. Maybe your guarantee is only valid if the customer uses your interior designer or orders a specific type of counter.
You can also reduce risk to yourself by adding a time limit to your promise, such as 30 days or one year from purchasing.
Can your competitors offer a similar kind of promise? Your goal is to be so bold that they can’t even come close.
Differentiating yourself in the marketplace isn’t easy, and it does involve some risk. However, there is a lot of reward involved if you can do it and do it right.
How Moraware Can Help You Stand Out
Part of being unique in the countertop industry is delivering on expectations.
In many markets, being able to whip up a quote right in front of your client is a Unique Selling Proposition. Perhaps your competitors aren’t getting estimates back to prospects for an entire week – or two!
Create a USP to Be Number One In Your Market
By now, I hope you understand the importance of having a Unique Selling Proposition in the marketplace to grow your business and sell more countertops.
Not only will it help you win more jobs and charge higher prices, but it will also help you attract higher-quality customers.
We all want to work with people who are easy-going and who don’t haggle over price. If I was to narrow down your ideal customer, my guess is that they would be someone who knows exactly what they want, has high-end tastes, deep pockets, and will send you lots of referrals. The way to attract friendly, easy to please, wealthy, and popular customers is simple. You must prove to them that you are the better choice.
Use the steps we’ve learned to create a winning position against your competitors that they won’t be able to match. I can’t promise you will achieve world domination, but being number one in your markets won’t be far from reach.