Every business, like every person, is unique. Even businesses that provide products or services that are virtually the same have something unique about them that can be promoted to set them apart from their competitors. In classic marketing parlance this is known as a company’s “unique selling proposition” or USP. The problem is, many businesses don’t bother to think too long and hard about what it is that makes them different from everyone else. That’s a shame, because it just makes them have to work harder to compete and win new clients. And, really, who wants to work harder?
Every business is unique in the way they approach problems
If you’re one of those landscape companies that has yet to define its USP, I suggest you take a little time to think about what it is that you’re best at, what you enjoy doing, and what you believe in the most and then create a USP around that.
To help in the process, here are a couple of questions to consider:
1. What is your reason for being in business?
If your immediate answer is to be your own boss, set your own hours, and carve out as much free time as possible, then you went into business for YOU. Current and potential clients will quickly sense that – and they couldn’t care less about your needs. Instead, they’ll look for someone else who is more concerned about taking care of THEIR -- the clients’ -- needs first.
If, however, you got into business because you truly enjoy creating and maintaining beautiful outdoor environments for people, then what is it about your business that is unique compared to your competitors – why should a prospect pick you over the other guy?
2. What problem, or problems, do you enjoy solving the most?
There’s no faking true engagement. If you really enjoy working on something, you’ll do your best every time, every day. Clients notice that, appreciate it, and will happily pay you for it.
Have you thought about what that thing is? If not, and you’re having trouble focusing on it, try this approach:
When you’re out with friends and a topic comes up, do you eagerly participate in the discussion or do you look for the first opportunity to bow out? Let’s say you’re at a barbecue and one of your buddies comes up to you and starts telling you about the water in his basement. Do you start asking questions and maybe make a helpful suggestion or two? Or do you make some sympathetic noises and quickly change the conversation?
How about if one of your friends starts to talk about the critters attacking her zucchini and squash - are you interested now? Are you eager to share all the tricks and tips you’ve picked up from experience or gleaned from others to outsmart the critters?
These kinds of scenarios can help you determine what you’re really interested in and what you might be good at – and uniquely suited for -- fixing or doing. This becomes the launching pad for your USP.
3. What makes your business the only logical choice for getting that solution?
Here’s where you begin crafting a truly unique selling proposition. Whether the problem is simple or complex, you need to be able to define a clear and compelling reason for a prospect to choose you over the competition. Even something as simple as lawn mowing can have a USP – say, a unique pricing or client loyalty plan. Maybe something that makes your service more convenient for the client. Whatever it is, you need to be able to articulate it clearly to the client or prospect so they readily see how you’re different.
4. How can you build upon that solution?
My landscape business building mantra is to suggest that business owners focus on their core solution and become brilliant at that first. Then, consider what goes well with that solution as a companion service that you can upsell to every client.
Sticking with our lawn-mowing example, it could be an add-on service that takes the solution to the next level, such as string-trimming all the lawn/bed edges. Maybe get a new piece of equipment, learn a new skill and become really good at it, and then craft a good argument for why it’s the perfect companion service that every client needs.
Next, take it to the next level with what I call performance-enhancing service, such as simple compost applications and slice-seeding in the fall to boost the turf density and keep it young and vibrant. If you want to get really creative and scientific, what about getting well-versed in soil chemistry and biology and conducting yearly soil tests and developing custom organic feeding programs to create the most beautiful lawn in town?
Here’s the point: each of these options are still perfectly aligned with lawn-mowing. They don’t require big staffing or equipment expansions. But they do add tremendous value to your client’s experience. It makes you unique and memorable. And that’s your USP.
5. What will change for your clients when they accept your solution?
When you become a specialist -- when you go deep into a service rather than wide with lots of disconnected services -- you become memorable. When you add services that have you checking in regularly with clients and building a relationship, you’re creating a level of familiarity and comfort. Look, I’m a homeowner myself, and I want to trust my service providers. I like seeing the same person and feeling happy when my house is being taken care of by someone other than me. I’m grateful for the reliable service and happy to pay for it. Isn’t that the best you could hope for in a business relationship?
If you can’t articulate clearly and quickly what makes you unique, then you may be missing out on sales opportunities. I was recently talking to a young man embarking on business ownership for the first time. He’s eager, hard-working and full of hope. His business isn’t one that offers much differentiation. We talked for a brief time and came up with this:
“Our competitors deliver on a “volume model of production.” That means they get as much done in a day as possible because it’s the numbers that matter.
At our company, we deliver an “application model of care.” That means we look at each property as unique and then craft the solution based on what’s needed because it’s you and your property that matter.
So, what matters to you – how much work the other guy can squeeze into a day, or how much better we’ll take care of your property?”
Now that’s a compelling and unique selling proposition!Image #2 Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo