Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The business world is incredibly competitive — which is undoubtedly why roughly 45% of businesses fail within five years of opening.
While there are many reasons why a business could fail, one of the biggest roadblocks to success is not having a well-defined unique value proposition (UVP). If you can’t effectively communicate to your customers why your business and its products or services are unique from your competitors, you’re going to have a hard time standing out.
On the other hand, when you are able to better define your unique value proposition, you can stake out a strong position in your niche and make a lasting impression on customers.
1. Focus on your ideal customer
You won’t get far if you don’t understand your ideal customer. Many brands achieve this by creating buyer personas through market research and gathering insights from their current customers.
The deeper you can dig into your ideal customer’s wants, needs, struggles and so on — the things that “make them tick” — the easier it will be to identify the types of messages that will be most impactful for them.
2. Understand the core elements of your unique value proposition
A successful UVP focuses on the benefits of your product or service, as well as how you are different from your competition. These elements are what ultimately communicate the value of your brand and why it would be worthwhile for your ideal consumer to do business with you.
Start by listing the benefits offered by your product or service. How do you solve the specific problems your ideal customer faces on a regular basis? Then, identify the ways your offering is different from the competition. This will likely require extensive market research, but it could include anything from more affordable pricing to additional features not found in competitors’ products.
With each of these lists, you should consider how the unique aspects of your product or service provide value to your customers. This then becomes the core focus of your messaging, and your next step is to communicate that message in a way that makes sense and appeals to your target audience.
3. Frame your UVP with storytelling
At my marketing agency, we use storytelling to pitch our clients because quite frankly, even though numbers can be convincing, they are also boring. After working on the previous two tips, you’re in a good position to tell a story that places the customer as the hero and then highlights what you’ve learned from your own challenges and how it can help them with the problem they’re trying to solve.
Entrepreneurs should try to frame their UVP in a storytelling format to hone in on presenting it in a way that will truly appeal to the customer. Customers don’t want to hear about how your team went to work and accomplished what they set out to do. But they will connect with relatable stories of your own struggles and lessons learned and how they can be applied to their lives in the form of your product or service.
4. Identify what you don’t do
One way to better differentiate yourself from others in your niche is to take the time to define what you don’t do. This could include the things that you’re not good at or the things that others in your niche do that you actively dislike and avoid.
Related: What is Your Value Proposition?
5. Test and iterate
When it comes to writing books, authors are sometimes advised to put their work through a whopping 10 drafts before their work can be considered complete. Think of the amount of time and effort that would go into continually revising a 300-page novel. Your UVP may not require as much revision time, but it certainly deserves its share of testing, revising and optimizing before it becomes your core marketing message.
Ideally, you should enlist the help of your target audience when revising your UVP. Use their impressions and feedback to identify how you can improve your messaging and make it more clear. A/B testing of multiple versions of your UVP could also be helpful to see which message resonates best with customers.
When developed properly, your unique value proposition can be so much more than a corporate statement. It can be the true core of your brand identity that drives your decision-making and how you market yourself to your target audience. By developing a compelling UVP, you will make a far more convincing sales pitch that puts your business on track for long-term success.