“The Boring Store” in Chicago is anything but…
With its bright orange awning and illustration of a private detective pushing a shopping cart, it is Chicago’s only “Secret Agent Supply Store.”
With grappling hooks, secret decoders and glasses with rear-view mirrors, they have everything you need to be a spy. But what The Boring Store really serves as is a front for a non-profit writing and tutoring center, 826CHI. The center uses the proceeds from The Boring Store to provide a variety of services for grade school students free of charge.
Their unique fundraising approach has differentiated them and is largely the reason for their success.
Differentiating your business is a key component to success. Failure to do so is often the reason some businesses fail.
Because the reality is that you are in a sea of competitors who do what you do. Trying to market yourself the same way they do will only make yourself look more like your competitors. The problem then becomes that you have to compete on price instead of the value you have to offer.
In Dave Dee’s article One Cool Strategy That You Can Use To Make More Money Now he discussed the easiest way to make more money this year—raise your prices. However, you’ll find it difficult to do that if you don’t have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
There are many ways to make your business interesting and not boring…and differentiate your product or service from every other offered on the market. Do it right and, not only will you attract more “ideal customers,” you can charge more too. Here are four questions that can help you discover your USP:
1) What makes you different? When you look at your competitors, what is something you do that they don’t?
Fence manufacturer, iDeal Aluminum makes gates, fences and railings that look like the ones their competition makes. What makes them stand out is they use a different type of screw. The screw makes their product stronger and better able to withstand high winds.
Even if you can’t identify something different about yourself, you can always find a way to be different. The Doughnut Vault in Chicago always has a line of eager buyers out their door and regularly sells out of doughnuts each day. What makes them different from the other doughnut shops in town? While they do have three classic doughnuts available daily, the rest of their menu changes every day.
2) What’s your story? Sometimes it’s your story that makes you stand out. A common mistake businesses make is thinking your story is boring. Often this is because you’ve heard your story so many times you think everyone knows it or you think people wouldn’t be interested. So while you may be sick of your story and think there’s nothing there, don’t be too quick to dismiss it.
A company in Chicago that uses its story to maximum advantage is an adventure events management company, Red Frog Events.
Inspired by the TV show, “The Amazing Race,” its founder decided he wanted to organize his own version of the event in Chicago, which he called the “Great Urban Race.”
It was so successful and gained so many followers that he decided he could make a business out of it. With a compelling story of both his inspiration and success, Red Frog has become a hugely profitable business earning tens of millions in revenue from producing and marketing adrenaline-inducing events.
3) Who is your audience? One way to stand out is to serve a unique audience or specific niche.
Cone is an Irish-themed gourmet ice cream parlor in Chicago that caters to a segment who love “all things Irish.” With a handful of employees who are from Ireland they serve Irish beverages, sweets and ice cream such as their “Hair of the Dog” sundae with scoops of Guinness, Jameson, and Bailey’s ice cream topped with chocolate syrup, whipped cream and chocolate flakes.
4) Do you have a mission? I’ve met many business owners who donate a portion of their earnings to their favorite charitable causes.
A flower shop in Chicago called Flowers For Dreams partners with charities. For example, for every bouquet of flowers purchased, they donate a backpack full of school supplies to a student in need..
They even offer a way to make the giving more personal to customers by offering to team up with an organization important to them. For instance, dance studios can create a custom URL where their student’s families can purchase flowers for recitals. A portion of the proceeds raised is then used to donate back to students of the studio who need financial assistance or to help fund improvements to the studio.
This a great way to differentiate your business and contribute to the public good.
This year spend time analyzing what makes you special, different or stand out from the crowd. Ask your customers, clients and patients what they think makes you extraordinary. When you do, you’ll find your business is not only more profitable but it’s easier to attract and market to the right people.
What are some great ways you’ve seen businesses position their USP? Share in the comments below so our GKIC community can be inspired by your examples.
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