Tuesday, February 25, 2020

How to Find Your Unique Selling Point and Brand Story

I'm head of colouring-in at a large workshop design and automotive equipment supply firm.

When I started 12-months ago I didn't know the first damn thing about tyre changers, wheel balancers, ADAS calibration, wheel alignment or how Porsche liked to have their workshop tiles laid out - but now I do. In fact, it's my round-one Mastermind specialist subject.

Coming to a technical topic like this I was tasked with making our portfolio stand out from the heard. I needed to know the story points in order to be able to tell the story. Here's how I've done that and how I found the unique selling point of us, as a brand, and the equipment and services we provide.

Make a competitors list.

Start off by checking out your competitors and make a big damn list of what you do differently. Hit their website. Look at what terminology and imagery they use. What are they trying to say and how are they trying to say it? What makes you, and what you do, different? Is it quality? Is it variety? Who is their market? What strengths are they highlighting? What sets you apart?

Emotional needs.

An emotional need can be clarified as a craving that, when satisfied, leaves you with a feeling of happiness and contentment. When unsatisfied, it leaves you with a feeling of unhappiness and frustration. This need (B2C) can be anything from the aspirational ownership of a pair of Manolo Blahniks to having more free time, from the love of your partner/dog/child/parent/hobby to the satisfaction of a job well done.

Make another column on your list and (from your customer's perspective) think about which emotional need is being directly met by your product or service. Some customer persona work might be needed here, to identify the core motivation of the folks who hold the purse strings or make the purchase decisions. Some good, solid, trolling through industry website and having an eye to what the overall business environment wants or how it is changing can help.

With B2B emotional needs, it may be something as simple as "We need to make more money," "We need to sell more Widgets," "We need more footfall," "We need to save time," or "We need to be ready for a legal change in our industry."

Get hands-on.

This is, in my opinion, the most important thing that will help you towards the realisation of your unique selling points.

You're gonna have to put some effort in.

Whatever it is you sell or provide, go and get up to your elbows in it. Go to trade shows. Go to demonstrations. Get the sales team to go over whatever it is, in-depth. Stand in front of the product. Walk around it. Learn how to use it. Imagine you're doing an explainer video and sketch out the storyboard. Get inspired.

I can't emphasise how important this is, especially in an industry like mine where we're talking installations and pieces of technical equipment worth tens of thousands.

Find the time and treat yourself to a training montage.

If I hadn't stood in front of one of our pieces of kit at a trade show, next to lots of similar equipment, I would never have realised it's size - it's footprint being much smaller than that of the competitors - meaning it was perfect for crowded tyre bays and workshops where space is at a premium. That's that particular machine's USP. Finding it, I had to stand in front of it and see it for myself.

You may have a product, like ours, which is large and unwieldy and where the USP may not be apparent until completion or installation. The story (USP) isn't always obvious. You'll need to follow it through the product journey.

Ask questions. Watch the demonstration teams. Hang around in the workshop and training centre. Video it. Learn how to do it yourself. Sit down with the directors and designers and ask questions. Walk the shop floor. Script it. Is it quick? Is it accurate? Does it come with upsell potential for the customer? Can it do two things at once? Is it cheap? Is it gold-standard? Again, how does it fulfil a possible need?

Grab Your Highlighter.

Ok, grab something fluorescent and let's underline the things on your list that your competitors can't replicate or imitate. Where are the current gaps that are going to make you stand out? Get a different colour and highlight anything that that they can't easily copy or reproduced.

Now we're getting somewhere. If not, go back and repeat everything above and spend more time with the product - an epiphany WILL come. Eventually.

What's in it for them?

It's critical to state, clearly, the benefit to the customer.

Key phrases.

Have a go at fashioning some phrases about your unique service or product that are clear, punchy, concise and hit those core 'truths' that make you different. Go over your list and pull out any keywords and phrases. Make them into factual sentences, with emotion. Back them up with facts and stats as necessary. Make sure these can be easily read and totally understood by your potential customers. Write it in their language.

Us as an example.

We have a mantra for our brand: Workshops of the Future.

It says that we're the future (obviously). It says that we're more forward-thinking then our competitors. It intimates that we're ready to embrace the likes of automated vehicle workshops, electric vehicle servicing, calibration of advanced driver-assistance systems. It says that we do things differently. It says 'cutting edge'. It helps to set us apart from the 'others'.

We design, supply and install premium garage equipment for many of the world’s most exclusive automotive brands - and we have to show our customers that we're ready to give them what they need as the market changes. We combine product expertise with a dynamic approach to ensure their workshop facilities reflect the impeccable standards of the vehicles they maintain, so our content, imagery, attitude, facilities, messaging, everything, has to be able to mirror that (and the quality they expect).

It also tells our client base - the likes of Maserati, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Porsche, etc. - that we're ready to give them what they need for the next decade and beyond. We know regulations, manufacturers specifications/standards and how to embrace the petrol and diesel ban being introduced in 2035 (or possibly earlier). This 'attitude' and offer makes us stand out in an industry that, on the surface, doesn't seem as dynamic or glamourous as it is in actuality - there's a lot of Porsche and Jaguar Landrover showroom openings to go to as marketing manager. We've laid out our stall and committed to our unique selling point. This is our brand story.

After establishing the overall brand I went more granular and took a deep-dive. The overall brand is relatively simple compared to the USPs of individual pieces of equipment and departmental services. The story they tell may be one that fulfils the needs of reliability, the quest for and importance of accuracy, OE standards/quality, seamless ease, repeatability, longevity, time/space/energy saving, or a whole different need and want our clients may have.

Everything has a story, it's just a matter of finding it.

In conclusion.

No matter what your product or service just stop and look and think about the problems and industry needs that you (as a brand) and your individual service or product solves for your future clients.

Again, I can't emphasise how important it is to get hands-on and out in the field. Involvement is the key to understanding. Stories don't write themselves.