What makes your business special so it stands out?
By BRIDGET WESTON POLLACK
What makes your business special enough that it truly stands out from the crowd? It’s not your small-business know-how or your determination. Creativity helps, but it’s not the only thing.
It’s your unique value proposition: the promise you make to customers that they can only truly fulfill by patronizing your business. Even if you’re already in business, let’s think about how to refine your own unique value proposition.
How do you provide unique value?
Your value should come to mind easily. What promise have you made to your customer? How do you plan to keep it?
But the “unique” part? That’s what sets you apart from the competition. Any sports bar can promise to provide local brews, hearty portions and all the local sports teams’ games in a fun atmosphere. But what makes yours stand out from the crowd? Maybe it’s decor inspired by your favorite team, or a menu that honors classic dishes from a particular region. Remember that your unique features don’t automatically provide value to your customers. It’s how you convey them and truly provide that value, as if giving a gift of appreciation for their time and patronage.
Need inspiration? Check out these SCORE success stories…
When Zepher wanted to attract new customers, mentor Larry Bunyard helped develop value statements and related marketing materials for the company. The unique value isn’t just that this company focuses on technology for government agencies and the commercial aerospace industry; it’s that Zepher stays competitive by maintaining in-depth industry knowledge despite rapid technological developments.
That knowledge base — along with a willingness to learn and keep up with industry trends — can foster confidence with potential clients.
Meanwhile, makeup artist Crystal Carmen wanted to fill a gap she noticed while serving her clients. They wanted eco-friendly cosmetics, but instead of settling for a “natural” look, they wanted vibrant colors that would pop on every skin tone.
Mentor John Lippman helped Carmen refine her vision for Pink Stiletto Cosmetics, as she developed a business plan that allowed not only for the manufacturing and distribution of large wholesale orders, but also for one-on-one makeup application instruction.
A sounding board can help! Still not sure if you’ve nailed down your unique value proposition? Try this exercise — it only takes 20 minutes! — to help zoom in on what makes your small business special. Don’t have a large group to help? Ask family, friends or trusted colleagues familiar with your industry to pitch in over a cup of coffee or one of those local brews mentioned above.
And, as always, you can meet with a SCORE mentor to talk through your ideas about your business’ unique value proposition. Whether you’re just starting your business or want to refine your vision, a mentor can provide new perspective.
Bridget Weston Pollack is the vice president of marketing and communications at the SCORE Association. In this role, Bridget is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies for the organization to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services.