Tag Archives: Unique Selling Proposition

Competition Elimination

Tamara high res 1

As small business owners, we are constantly reminded of the large volume of competition out there. It could be a local shop owner who is selling similar products as you or a service provider that just moved into your neighborhood.

No matter what industry you are in – you are going to face ‘competition’ at one time or another. In my field – (design), I am constantly surrounded by talented entrepreneurs who could make me think that I don’t have a shot at my big dreams. Instead of thinking about those individuals as being competition, I have stuck to my belief that there is something you can do, which could almost completely eliminate the competition mindset.

From personal experience, (as well as taking cues from very successful small business owners), I have discovered that the way to really step away from competition is to focus on two things. Who you are and why you want to provide the product or service that you do.

‘Who you are’ (for the purposes of this article) is another way of saying: ‘what is unique about your business’ based on your personal skills, strengths, experiences and perspective. In business exercises you may hear people use the term ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ (USP) – which is a common term for an exclusive offering. Often people identify and express this USP is through branding, messaging, copy etc. To really make these expressions – I suggest weaving YOU into those messages using things that only you can offer. Lean on what you have learned and see how it can differentiate your business from your competition.

‘Why’ you want to provide the products and services is also unique. Your intrinsic motivation is often more powerful and inspirational than the threat of someone taking your clients and consumers, as is in the ‘competition’ mindset.  As an example – think about a business owner who runs an all-natural skin care line. If she started the business after seeing her child suffer from terrible reactions to big brand-name creams, that would be a big differentiator from her competition. Knowing that she is dedicated to helping other mothers soothe their children’s painful rashes isn’t the same as being the lowest priced item (Which may be another skin-care lines USP).

Some people may argue that competition is a necessary part of business. You may even think that it is naïve to think that competition doesn’t need to be the focus. I am not saying that you can ignore the fact that there may be someone doing something very similar to you. I simply suggest that you use any similarity to inspire you to showcase everything that is unique about you as a business owner and why you got started.

Tamara is the Founder and Creative Director of Sweet Clover Studios. Where she provides resources, planners, learning opportunities and inspiration for other creative small business owners. You can also see her personal gallery of products as a surface pattern designer at http://www.SweetCloverStudios.com

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Your Brand Values and Governance Model: Developing Your Content Strategy

GovernancePlanning (2)

Part 2 of a 6 part series on Content Strategy for Your Business

 

In the first post in this series, I outlined what a content strategy is and why it’s a critical part of your digital business model.  Over the next 5 weeks of this series, we’ll go through a full content strategy, but where to start?  Sometimes it’s best to start at the end.

 

Governance: Start Your Strategy at the End

When it comes to Content Strategy, A Governance model is perhaps the most important factor.  Why?  Because if you understand up front what it will take to create, measure and maintain your online business communications, you will be more realistic and strategic when you develop your content strategy.  In this post I’ll outline what your governance model will include, and then go into some detail on the creation of the first piece of your content strategy and resulting governance model.

What do I need to Govern?

Online business communications are the basics on your website, which might include

  • Your Home page
  • An “About Us” page or section
  • A services Section and/or product pages
  • Your contact page
  • Campaign based landing pages

Depending on your business goals, it might expand to include content marketing such as

  • Email communications such as e-blasts or newsletters
  • Blogging or articles
  • Info graphics or tools

And depending on your customers and where they are in the sales funnel, it might include brand awareness tactics like

  • Social media: Twitter, Facebook, Linked IN, Instagram, and Pinterest…
  • Influencer marketing

 

Governance of your content strategy means managing these communications, and it is like running a second business, your digital business.  It is part marketing, part sales, and part corporate communications.  And like any business, you need a plan: that’s what Governance is.

Your Governance model brings together all of the pieces of your content strategy into a structured, executable plan of action.  Putting a realistic and actionable governance model in place means being very clear about your brand values and goals, your customer needs, knowing which platforms your ideal customers are using, and which blend of content types will give your brand voice consistency and regularity, and then putting it all in a calendar.

 

A Governance Model Outline

 

Your governance model will be made up of:

1) A clear statement of your brand purpose.  This can be in the form of a mission statement, or it can be in the form of a message map, elevator pitch, or Value proposition (also sometimes called a unique selling proposition or USP).

2) A customer avatar or persona that describes your ideal customer

3) A clear idea of the conversion funnel for your ideal customer and which content types, on which platforms are likely to reach them.

4) An editorial calendar outlining when and what you are going to create or curate and some handy tools to keep it all running smoothly.

These things need to be written down!  Don’t keep it all in your head.  I keep my governance model in front of me in the form of sticky notes and charts pinned to a large piece of foam core that serves as my content strategy whiteboard.   Knowing that these are the building blocks of your content strategy governance model, you can sketch them out very high level, and over the next 5 weeks we’ll fill in the blanks, starting this week with Brand Values.

 

Your Brand Values: Let’s Clarify

What are your brand values, and what are your business goals?  By getting this down very clearly you will have some good material for your About Us page and a guide that will help you with your future content, customer, and platform decisions.  The problem with typical mission statements is that they are very high level and often include a lot of jargon.  For this reason I prefer to create more tactical artefacts, such as a Message Map or Value proposition.

Build a Message Map

A message map is perhaps the most tactical artefact you can create.  It is quick and relatively easy to put together and is a good guideline document if you need to write something quickly such as a product launch announcement, or if you need to give something to your employees so they know the talking points on a particular product, initiative, or your business generally.  CEO’s or PR writers use message maps if they are preparing to do a media interview, for example, or write a press release.

Watch this video about message maps, or use this basic formula, starting with a Twitter-friendly headline.  This means a short, maximum 140-character statement about your brand or product.  Then, write down 3 key points about your brand or product, making sure they are short bullets.  Finally, for each of those three points, come up with a few supporting facts, statistics, or stories that bring the point home.

 Message-Map-Diagram (2)

 

Clarify Your Value Proposition

 

Creating a value proposition using this template from copyhackers will give you a little bit more range of options in terms of how you might talk about your brand as a whole.  Copyhackers has an excellent suite of worksheets and tools for all aspects of content strategy and a great process for figuring out your value proposition, that has you think about your brand and your service(s) or product(s) by filling in this grid.  In the left-most column, write down all of the statements you can come up with that describe the benefits or features of your brand, service(s) or product(s), then really ask yourself if that statement gets a “tick” in the boxes to the right.  When you have a statement that ticks all the boxes, you have a great value proposition!

 

Christine McG
My favourite tool is taken from the book “Gamestorming” because it brings customer target into the mix, and it is visual and easy to fill in the blanks.  Try to make a few of these until you find a combination that feels right.

 

 

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Once you have a clear idea, or collection of ideas and statements on what you have to offer as a business, the next step is having a very clear picture of your customer: knowing what they want, and where they are going to find it.

Over the next 3 installations, we’ll cover

  • Your Customer: figuring out what your customers want, who they are, and where they are.
  • Social media strategy: we’ll answer the question: do I need a website AND do social media? (The answer is, yes!)
  • Editorial and Content types: we’ll look at creation vs curation and finding the right balance for your brand and your customers, and why you need a schedule. Regularity and consistency is key to building audience.

 

This sounds like a lot of work

I could spend all of my time on creating and maintaining content.  But obviously then I wouldn’t be running my business.  Every business owner has to be a sales and marketing pro these days, however, and much of that sales and marketing activity is contained within the governance model of your online content strategy.  It’s important to find the right balance-or governance model-for your business.

 

For more resources and information on Content Strategy and to download a detailed description of what content strategy entails, go to analyticalengine.ca/resources or download a Content Strategy Info graphic at http://bit.ly/1qY9tYp.

Christine McGlade is a Business Analyst, Content Strategist, and Usability Consultant.  With over 25 years experience in the media business, Christine helps small business, social enterprise, and Not for Profits how to leverage the power of the Internet to grow their business.  Learn more about Christine at analyticalengine.ca

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