How companies can build their unique proposition

In boardrooms and boardrooms around the world, there is a sentiment that everyone agrees with.

The speed, volume and complexity of change are increasing exponentially. This claim was true even before Covid-19, so you can only imagine the further increases in recent times.

One of the emerging phenomena resulting from this shift that I want to focus on is commodification. There was a time when you could have differentiated yourself from the competition with just your product. Barriers to entry continue to decline as technology and globalization allow shorter development times.

There is always someone biting your heels. Added to this is the still unknown competition from disruptors. Did airlines even dream of a disruptive low-cost carrier like Ryanair 30 years ago? Has the hospitality industry ever thought that Airbnb could become such a challenger?

Across the industry, legacy sectors and products have become commonplace, that is, more freely available. This puts downward pressure on prices, and therefore on your margin. The differentiation and relevance of your proposal must now be seen in a larger context. I think the answer lies in the overall customer experience that you provide to your customers, whether you are B2C or B2B.

This is where you will find your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

A CHECKLIST TO SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF YOUR USP

Last month I introduced you to a three legged stool frame to define your proposal. The legs represent product, people and place.

Product
Do a strengths / weaknesses exercise on your product line. Solicit feedback from your customers and your own team. Use this checklist to ask yourself the right questions.

What are the main differences between your product and those of your main competitors? Can you get a premium on your prices because of these differences? Or if you want to match prices with your competition, is there a story in your differences that has lasting value for your customers? Are they relevant?

What can you say you have real authority in? What can you say that you own? For example, Selfridges in London has the largest selection of women’s shoes in the world. But of course, since the store sells more than shoes, the shoe department also generates traffic in the store for other departments.

Place
Location refers to the physical environment whether you are a retail store or a hotel. Consider this checklist:

  • Do your standards and housekeeping correspond to your brand positioning?
  • How do you rate the ambiance and ambiance in your store? Consider sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch in this checklist.
  • From the car park, in all your premises, to the point of payment, how do you assess your access and the level of effort required of your customer?
    When was the last time you tested it yourself as a customer?

Location can also refer to your route to the market if you are a B2B organization.

How appropriate and flexible is your delivery schedule? How do you pack your goods for your customer? From small packages to pallets, think about the level of care taken in your outbound logistics. When it comes to your online presence, think about your landing pages, navigation, ease of ordering and payment.

People
In this article, it may seem that the 3Ps are all equally important. But of course they don’t. While every industry is different, I personally think people carry more weight in most cases. The main points to consider here are “connect, consult and conclude”.

Do your employees at all touchpoints connect with your customers in a friendly, welcoming and professional manner? Are they really listening to understand their needs? And do they conclude each time by doing everything they said they would do, and show
appreciation?

THE LAST WORD
In the past few months, you will have heard me say that “customer experience is the new battleground”. My current work as a change consultant and keynote speaker in all industries proves this more and more. Covid-19 has pushed us further on this journey. No matter what industry you are in, you just can’t ignore it.

Alan O’Neill is Kara Managing Director, Change Consultant and Speaker

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