I’ve actually encountered this question a lot, especially in working with new product teams or product teams that are going through an identity crisis.
The key to answering your question is actually in answering another very specific question:
“If I am your ideal customer, why should I buy from you rather than your competitors?”
A few things to keep in mind:
You need to think in the first-person perspective of the customer and what they care about – not what you’re good at and what you like
In doing so, it’s important to also list out the customer types that won’t find any (or will find little) appeal in what you’re offering so you can narrow down the groups that you can serve best
It is OK to share benefits/features/etc with a competitor as long as you have at least one relevant point of differentiation (relevant to the customer).
I actually have a worksheet I helped create as part of a more formal training program I would take to these teams.
I still use this myself for my own projects as well.
Now the point of this worksheet is to develop a concept… a core message and answer to that initial question: “If I am your ideal customer, why should I buy from you rather than your competitors?”
This is what Step 5 might looks like after you fill it out.
NOTE: I did not work with Publix Supermarkets on this one… I just happen to be a fan and have used it in training…
Estimated Value Proposition (Step 5 answer): “Because we have the most enjoyable, award winning
1 highly local
2 grocery shopping experience
with competitive, low prices
1.Scored higher than any other supermarket for customer satisfaction in a national survey conducted by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (1995–2014)
•Listed among the country's favorite supermarkets by
•Selected as one of America's Best Supermarkets by
•Rated "Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Supermarket Pharmacies, Four Years in a Row" by J.D. Power & Associates (2010–2013)
•Awarded the "Customers' Choice Award" by the National Retail Federation Foundation (2010)
2.1,080 Store Locations in Southern states alone and the 10
th largest-volume supermarket chain in the country.
3.A study comparing everyday Publix prices to Walmart for the same items showed a savings of $90.
Now obviously publix is not going to list all of that out on all their marketing, rather, they are going to find the best ways to communicate it.
Here’s an example: If you’ve ever been into a Publix shopping center, you’ll see that it’s probably one of the nicest conventional grocery stores in the entire United States. At the same time, you would expect their prices to be significantly marked up, because of all they invest in the experience (like Chik Fil A compared to McDonalds).
But then I ran into this sign:
So in an instant, they communicate point number 1 just by the environment you’re in and then also communicate number 3 with this sign simaltaneously.
Brilliant. Makes me want to come back.. because the detailed comparison is the evidence.
So the next question… How do you know you’ve got the right one?
You need to put those concepts into treatments, and start testing them in ads, your homepage, etc.
Here is an example of a test I was involved with – we wanted to find out which of these messages would produce the greatest desired result from the audience that was currently being served… and each of these treatments were developed as a result of going through that questionnaire:
What we discovered was that treatment 1 was the prevailing winner on the organizational level (not the individual product level) and up until they were acquired by Cision, that was the standing homepage copy.
What if you have a new product that doesn’t have an audience yet?
Well, in this case you would want to go where the audience is, get some ad space and do some testing. This can include ad networks, google, even Facebook ads given its superior targeting abilities. And It’s
OK to send them to a preview page, or basic-opt-in page (be the first to know about x…)
In fact, in Facebook ads, I would take an offer, with multiple expressions of that offer, and test it to multiple audiences at once, in a move we call “audience shopping.” With the messaging tests being equal across all audiences, we could then discover which segments really resonate with an offer, and if we had time to make multiple expressions, we could tell if certain angles were better than others, or if they all just stunk.
This is what all popular authors do before selling a book. They will test different titles with real audiences that had no idea they were in a test.
If you’re a little more curious about the Facebook audience shopping approach, or the testing sequence to determining if your offer or message angle is any good across different audience segments, I’ve created an entire experimental flow chart as part of a free training course available for nonprofits (but obviously can be 100% applied to the for profits as well).
Here is a sneak peak – I have done a full video walk-through of it. It should be intuitive enough to translate to the for-profit space… the only thing you would need is to find some KPI benchmarks for your particular space.
Does this help? Obviously there is so many additional layers in each step, but the process itself is pretty much outlined here.