Whether you sell to clients directly or you sell to general contractors, it is imperative that you understand the unique value you offer and communicate it clearly, concisely, and persuasively. You do so with a unique value proposition (UVP)
Your UVP identifies the reason your prospect should hire you instead of anyone else. It's the reason your client should pay more for your services.
Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of value propositions, allow me to share a story from my old engineering days that demonstrates why knowing and communicating your UVP is so impactful to your bottom line.
I worked for a couple of engineers who believed almost anything our clients told them (your price is too high) and were somewhat clueless about why our clients truly hired us. Like most engineers, they believed we were hired due to the quality of our designs. Yeah, right.
While pursuing my MBA, a marketing professor encouraged my class to ask our clients why they purchased our goods and services. So, I did.
I learned that our firm had a reputation for never missing a deadline. We would not miss a deadline no matter how late documents were sent to us. Apparently, we were one of the only firms in town that was insanely committed to meeting our clients' deadlines.
After learning my firm's unique value, I decided to find out whether my bosses were aware of it. So, I caught them after work one day and casually asked them why our clients hired us.
They figured our clients hired us because we were the lowest price. Turns out they hadn't ever asked our clients for the answer and our clients hadn't gone out of their way to tell Tom and Bob the real reason. If Tom and Bob knew we were the only MEP in town that met deadlines, they would have been positioned to raised our prices.
And that's the point of my story. When you're aware of your UVP, you create the opportunity to raise your prices.
Crafted properly, your UVP will carry influence with your clients, prospective clients, employees and prospective employees.
Yes. Your UVP helps you internally (employees) as well as externally (customers).
Let's break the term down.
Unique: Your business is the only one that has it.
Value: A benefit of great meaning to your customer.
Proposition: A promise.
There are three key points to understand about UVPs:
- You cannot be all things to all people.
- You must live up to your promised value proposition.
- You need to come up with a catchy way to express your UVP.
You Cannot Be All Things to All People
You have many different ways you can be different than your competition. Here are ten of the most obvious ones:
- Always on time
- Great communication
- Pain-free punch out
- Post project access and troubleshooting
- Training / education
- Budget assistance
- Creative solutions
- Best price
- Highest quality
Clients have many different needs and many different reasons for selecting their contractor. Finding ones that match your UVP closely is critically important.
By necessity, your UVP will niche your business. It's just part of the deal.
A UVP that is all things to all people is not a UVP. It is too broad, too general. It will lack punch and effectiveness.
Your UVP needs to be specific which forces you to find your niche and stick to it. Diversification is for Fortune 500 companies. Focus is the magic word for small businesses.
Let me give you an example of marketing focus from our coaching practice. Guy and I know that our solutions and skill training will benefit just about every business. That leaves the market wide open for our services, right? Not really.
We know better than to chase the wide open market. Marketing ourselves as generic business coaches for the masses (like most do) would leaves us in a "me too" position. Watered-down message and too much competition.
So, we pursue businesses within the construction industry. Then, we tighten our marketing message even further. Our objective is to become THE business coach that commercial and industrial contractors turn to when they're ready for outside assistance with their business.
Although everything we teach and deploy works equally well for contractors of all stripes, we seek to gain a competitive advantage. For us that competitive advantage is the commercial contractor market. Here's why.
We have spent almost our entire careers in the commercial and industrial construction markets. That's where our success stories, case histories and testimonials come from. Those items are important marketing and sales tools. Meeting with a prospect without them is like going to war without ammo. You can win, but it sure makes it more difficult.
Furthermore, there are several coaches and consultants who claim expertise in the residential contractor market. There are very few who claim expertise at running a commercial construction business.
So, despite working with select residential remodelers and take them on as clients whenever the right one pops up, we focus our marketing efforts on commercial contractors. Do you see the parallel to your business?
It's imperative that you niche your business. Don't be all things to all people. Find the market segment you can dominate and stay true to it.
You Must Live Up To Your Promise Value Proposition
Whatever UVP you're pressing, it must be driven throughout your organization. It must become your organization's culture. Failure to deliver on the UVP is not an option for anyone in your company.
Continuing with our example, Guy and I know exactly the type of clients we will be successful with. We know which ones will respond well to our assistance and which ones won't.
We refuse to give client less than they need to achieve their goals and objectives. We are very up front with our prospects about that. Being so is the only way we can make sure we live up to our promise to them.
Likewise, your company MUST keep the promises you made during the selling process. Even member of your company must be fully committed to that level of performance. It if your company can't keep the promise, turn down the work.
You Need To Come Up With a Catchy Way to Express Your UVP
When worded effectively, your customers will respond emphatically to your UVP. It will speak to their hearts and souls. It will reach them and touch them.
They will think "Yes! THAT is what I want!"
Keep your unique value proposition tight. Use as few words as possible while maintaining clarity and target. For example, here is our current one: "We take commercial contractors to the next level by implementing proven business systems and teaching essential business skills." We continually test it and tweak it.
Now, I'm not going to kid you here. Coming up with the right wording for your UVP takes time. You will need to test different versions until you find the one that rings the bell for your clients and prospects.
How to Uncover Your UVP
Do some competitive research. Do some market research. Find out what your competitors strengths are and find out what your market wants that your competitors are not doing.
Look inside your own company. Look at your personal strengths and weaknesses. Look at your team's strengths and weaknesses. Analyze your past history with clients.
Find a match between what you're willing to do, what the market wants, and what your competition either isn't good at or isn't willing to do.
Once you get those three things triangulated, you will know your unique value. Turn it into a persuasive phrase and make it the basis of your advertising campaign, your proposals, your selling message, your qualification of clients, and finally, your testimonials.
Ron Roberts, The Contractor's Business Coach, teaches contractors how to turn their business into a profit spewing machine. To receive Ron's FREE Contractor Best Practices Newsletter visit www.FilthyRichContractor.com.
*This article was originally published in 2008 and republished in 2020.