The easiest-to-market products are those that solve a problem for customers. That sounds like BS lofty marketing speak, and also sounds like something that may not apply to what you sell. So let me give you concrete examples of how this might apply to you:
1. You sell bracelets. Many people can’t find bracelets that fit just right. I’m on the petite side and most bracelets fall right off of my wrists and hands, thus I don’t own many bracelets. Conversely, a plus sized consumer might find most bracelets are too small. So there’s your problem: bracelets have fit issues. You can solve the problem by selling a product with a custom fit or maybe in different sizes.
2. You sell handbags. I hate when my lipstick opens up in my bag and gets all over my bag. You can solve this problem by designing a bag that has a built in cosmetics compartment that’s stain-proof and easy to clean.
3. You sell dresses. I never know if something is going to fit me and I hate to pay for shipping both ways just to try something on. You solve the problem by offering free shipping and free returns. You absorb the cost by raising your product prices. As a consumer, I don’t mind because it’s such a huge convenience to be able to try on clothing for free. (Hint: this is what Zappos does and it’s very successful for them.)
Alright, now that we’re clear on how you as a crafty business owner might solve a problem for a customer, let’s move on to how you can figure out what your USP is. A USP, by the way, is a unique selling proposition. It’s the thing that makes your business different/better than your competitors.
An artisan might say “well my products are prettier,” but this is too subjective and may not be enough of a competitive edge. There are lots of pretty products out there, the business person who figures out how to solve a problem is the one who will make the most money.
To figure out if your business solves a problem…
1. Make a list
Make a list of all the selling points for your product/brand. Do you offer a large range of sizes? Do you have the best prices? Do you offer a ton of color choices? Do you offer free shipping? Do you have a generous return policy? Do your products have a special feature that saves time or offers convenience?
Make a list of every little thing you can think of that serves as a selling point for your brand. (Note: while I said pretty isn’t a selling point, it might be one if you sell a product that normally isn’t pretty like orthopedic footwear or maternity underwear. If you sell jewelry or handbags or dresses or paintings, pretty is a given, don’t put that on your list.)
2. Scope the competition
Find other brands that sell in your niche and see if they have any of the same features and benefits. Any time you find competitors who share the same selling points, cross that item off your list.
Note: you’ll only want to cross things off if competitors share some of the same combinations that you offer. For example, a competitor might have low prices, but they may charge a ton for shipping to make up for it. You’ll want to really carefully evaluate what your competitors offer to see if their advantages are truly the same as your own.
Once you’ve figured out what you truly have to offer that other brands do not, you need to showcase this offering to customers. If your advantage is that you have the most size options, say this on your website and in your marketing copy. If your advantage is that you have the most generous return policy, highlight this throughout your marketing copy in places like shopping cart, check out and product pages.
What if I can’t find a USP?
If you can’t find a USP, you may be in trouble. If your sales are slow and you feel like your business is going nowhere, your lack of USP may be part of the problem. Re-think how you can change your products, store policies, etc. to give yourself a competitive edge.
If you’re not sure what your USP should be, talk to customers or prospective customers. Try to figure out what problems they have when they try to buy the kind of product you sell. Then think about what you can change to address those problems.