35 Ways to Differentiate Your Business from Your Competitors

UniqueLast week my copywriting colleague Belinda Weaver wrote about five ways to make your “me-too” small business uniquein the eyes of your prospective customers.

This week I’m continuing the unique selling proposition theme with a list of 35 factors that you can use to differentiate your business.

My differentiation master list

This is the list of differentiators I use when I work with my copywriting clients. You may offer many of the benefits in this list. That’s great! However, the object of this exercise is to differentiate your business from your competitors.

So you need to choose ONE benefit – the most important and outstanding benefit – that offers the most value to your target market and is not offered or not promoted by your competition.

What you are and what you could be

As you read through each benefit on the list consider whether it may be possible for you to offer it if you don’t already, or do it better than your competitors.

For example, the standard guarantee in your niche may be one year. Could you offer a two-year guarantee to distinguish yourself from your competitors? Sometimes tweaking your offer to give a little bit more value is the easiest way to create a killer USP.

35 ways to differentiate your business

Here are 35 benefits that you can brainstorm to come up with a unique differentiating factor for your USP:

1. Do you specialise in serving a well-defined niche? E.g. do you serve a certain size company best, or a particular market segment, geographic location, or type of customer?

2. Do you specialise in selling a particular product/service? E.g. there are lots of nurseries selling a wide selection of plants, but the Palm Place Nursery specialises in selling palm trees.

3. Are you the preferred supplier of choice for a particular group of any type?

4. Do you have a long track record or history of business? Were you the first/original business in your niche?

5. Are you famous for something? Be honest now!

6. Does a celebrity endorse your products or services?

7. Do you have lots of customer success stories and testimonialsdemonstrating excellent results?

8. Do you have the most proof, evidence or highest credibility factor?

9. Are your products/services more enjoyable, easier to use or exciting?

10. Do you give your customers more than what they expect?

11. Are you the newest, latest, most innovative, or up-to-date? Are you the marketplace’s product leader?

12. Are you the highest quality provider? Do you have proof?

13. Is the way you make your product (or perform your service) better than competitors?

14. Are you using innovative technology?

15. Is yours the best, high class, or newest styling or fashion?

16. What about your customer service? Is it demonstrably better in some regard than your competitors? (Everyone thinks their customer service is top notch but can you prove it?) Faster, customised, more high-touch or flexible?

17. Do you offer a guarantee? Is yours the longest or best?

18. Do you offer the best value i.e. have the highest quality/price ratio?

19. Do you offer discounts… for volume, frequency, or first time purchase? Are your discounts the biggest?

20. Do you offer deals, such as “buy two for the price of one”?

21. Do you offer special prices for certain groups or at certain times? E.g. to seniors or out of season prices.

22. How about bonuses or premiums … do you offer more than your competitors (and are they valuable)? Do you offer anything for free?

23. Do you offer better credit terms or easy, long-term payment options?

24. Do you have in-house buying cards or club memberships?

25. Is after-sales service, advice or consultation available? Are you proactive about it or passive (letting them call you)?

26. Do you have 24-hour assistance, or live-person assistance instead of just email?

27. Do you offer free, rapid, or various delivery options?

28. Extended opening hours – are you open nights, early mornings, weekends, public holidays, 24 hours?

29. Is your selection the broadest?

30. Do you carry more stock or inventory? Is a wide product selection instantly available?

31. Do you have clearer labelling or packaging that’s more attractive or easier to use?

32. Do you have installation options?

33. Do you have the cleanest, neatest or most impressive premises?

34. Do you have the most locations, a convenient location, or global offices?

35. Do you best fulfil legal requirements, standards or constraints?

A USP is hard work…

Let me be frank: developing an effective USP is hard work. But the reward will be well worth your time and effort.

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