Insights Blog

Useful tools, tips and strategies to help your business learn, develop and expand.

3 Tests to Measure the Strength of Your USP

One of the first things successful business owners do is clarify their unique selling proposition (USP). That is, what is it about the service or product that you offer which makes it more compelling than anything else out there?

Fundamentally, it answers the question, “Why should I buy from you?”

I have noticed, however, that many business owners struggle to pin this down. Or more precisely, they struggle to pin down a USP that is actually unique and compelling. And doing this is essential.

The result is that their marketing produces only a trickle of leads, their product development and expansion is haphazard and directionless. The company is constantly yo-yoing as the business owner feels like they are spinning plates while simultaneously putting out fires.

This begs the question, how do you check whether your business’ USP is clear and useful?

I encountered a diagram like this sometime ago and I adapted it to create some simple tests you can use to do a quick check on the strength of your USP.

london-business-coaching-usp-test 

The Grey “Doesn’t Matter” Zone

The first test is the easy one: the grey zone just doesn’t even matter. I mean, who cares what you and your competitors are both doing well if no one even wants it?

First Test: Does your consumer want it?

If no, then why on earth are you doing this? Drop it. Forget about it. It’s taking up valuable headspace.

If yes, continue on.

The Red “Fail” Zone

The next test is the red zone and if you are sitting here, then there should be big alarm bells ringing! If your competitor is serving your customers’ needs better than you are, then something definitely needs to change!

Second Test: Does your competitor do it better?

If yes, then this is certainly not your USP – if anything, it’s theirs! You either need to choose a different USP to focus your business on, or up your game and do what you do better so that you can outstrip the competition.

If no, then you can proceed to the next test.

The Yellow “Unsafe” Zone

The yellow zone is where you are almost there, but this is an unreliable proposition that could slip into the red zone at any moment. You see, if both you and your competitor are satisfying your consumers’ needs, then how are they making the decision to go with you or with them?

Third Test: Are your competitors doing it just as well as you are?

If yes, then you may use this as your USP, but stay cautious. You are deep in the battleground here. Any step backwards is a step forwards for your competitor. Be innovative. Be attentive. Know your customer inside out and sway them to you for emotional reasons, because logically there is quite possibly no difference between you and your competitor.

If no, then…

The Green “Safe” Zone

Congratulations – you are in the green zone! You do what you do better than any of your competitors, and your consumer is hungry for your solution. Your USP is sound.

You should now be focusing your niche and avatar around this USP, choosing your lead magnets, and refining your brand strategy around it. You should be structuring your products & pricing and even your company culture around it. Using it as the foundation for all your decision making will help you steer the boat of your business in a direction of growth and profit.

Does your USP pass these tests? Or are you in need of a USP upgrade? Let us know in the comments below, or let us know any techniques you have for identifying your business’ USP.

Want help constructing your USP?

Business coaching is about helping business owners understand these sort of foundations. This sets them up to achieve double-digit growth.

Get a taste of how it can help you with one of our complimentary strategic reviews.

Book a Strategic Review


Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”

Do you remember the last time you made a really big mistake?

If not, then well done for not making any mistakes! Unfortunately, most of us have made mistakes, and will continue to do so, because most human beings operate that way – especially business owners who want learn and grow fast.

But the more important thing is – did you apologise to someone? If you did, did you also ensure that that apology was the most useful and beneficial apology for both yourself and the person you were apologising to?

Let me share with you a learning I gained from my business coach about the best way to make an apology after you have made a mistake – which applies whether you are apologising to a business partner, a team member, a spouse or a friend.

Do you remember a particular apology you have made which moved everyone forward in the best way? Inspire others by sharing your story in the comments below.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

Hi this is Shweta from London Coaching Group. Let me ask you a question, have you ever made a mistake? Because once I made a mistake, I was having a conversation with my business coach, so let me actually tell you what happened.

So there we are, in our coaching session and my coach was holding me accountable and I made a mistake and I said “Listen, I’m sorry but…”

“Shweta let me just stop you, let me just stop you at that word ‘but’. Let me ask you a question, do you agree that you could have done better? And you made a mistake here?”

“Yes Coach.”

“So let me coach you on what is the best way to make an apology.”

“What do you mean Coach? What’s the best way to make an apology? I said sorry.”

“No let me actually tell you how to apologise. Because you will have many of those occasions in your life. The best way to apologise is to say ‘I’m sorry, and I’ll do better next time.’”

And that life lesson has stayed with me forever, and I try to teach that to my clients, to my kid, and to myself most importantly. Because growing the business, moving the business forward and becoming even better is full of failures, is full of mistakes. But when that occasion happens, one needs to know how to apologise in the right way.

Because you want to communicate to the outside world, and most importantly to yourself about your own intentions.

Want to find out more about business coaching?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionWe still have some availability for free coaching sessions where we review your already successful business and help you identify areas where you can see even more growth.

At the very least, we will leave you with a few areas in your business that you could focus on to create sustainable growth.


You Already Know Your Target Market

london-business-coaching-marketing-avatar-interview

 

Who is your ideal customer? What is the likelihood that someone like me, who works with hundreds of businesses every year, would be able to get you an introduction to a potential ideal customer? Pretty likely, but only as long as I know who it is you are looking for. 

It all starts with the concept of the “Marketing Avatar” – the first and most critical step in creating a marketing machine that brings in the right kind of leads into your business.

However, a lot of people feel like when they try and create this Marketing Avatar it feels a lot like the shadows on the wall of Plato’s Cave: it is an imperfect representation and they’re struggling to pin down this Avatar as a real target person that could actually exist.

Let me explain an exercise that has helped hundreds of businesses to concretise their Avatar from an ideal into a reality.

I have, in previous blog posts, explained why target markets don’t work and why you need a marketing avatar instead. I have also listed the 6 essential qualities that you should look out for in a marketing avatar, so I won’t explain those again.

Instead, I want to outline an exercise you can do that will help you apply the concept of the Marketing Avatar to reality.

And it’s a lot easier than you may think. It’s the Marketing Avatar Interview.

Marketing Avatar Interview Step 1

Extract a list of all your existing customers from whatever database or CRM (customer relationship management) solution you use. This may be past and present customers, but they must be people you would be able to contact.

Marketing Avatar Interview Step 2

Go through this list and choose the customers that you liked the most. As far as possible at this stage, avoid thinking about them in terms of the sales or money – just focus on whether they were someone you enjoyed spending time with or not.

Marketing Avatar Interview Step 3

Now with your list of favourite customers, get a bit more clinical. Rank them in terms of real value to your business. Look at the 6 essential qualities again and consider how much they match your ideal Avatar.

Marketing Avatar Interview Step 4

Now that you have one or two of your existing customers who quite closely match your ideal Marketing Avatar, you can get in touch to conduct an interview with them. You should ask them an extensive list of questions about who they are, what they like, and where they spend their time to build a solid profile about them.

And just like that, you have a detailed document about who your marketing Avatar is that is built on real knowledge of an actual ideal customer.

An example of how you can use this is to ensure that you when you set up a system to ask for referrals from your business partners and alliances with abundant contacts (such as, say, your business coach!) you are asking for the right kind of customer.

Generally, armed with your Marketing Avatar, you are now in a position to reassess your entire marketing strategy and sharpen your messages so everything you do is directed to the people who perfectly match your business.

Marketing processes getting you down?

Shweta hosts webinars in order to reach out to businesses who need business advice and expose them to how business coaching could help.

There she reveals some powerful marketing techniques, among other business strategies, that help businesses grow in double-digits!


How Many Steps Should Your Sales Process Have?

How often are you making contact with the prospects that have expressed interest in your business? At what point do you give up and decide you have wasted enough time on them?

Remember, “You lose more business from prospects who fail to decide than from those who say ‘No.’”

The evidence is clear: businesses with an optimal number of sales process steps have stronger sales pipelines and generate more revenue. The metaphor of a ‘pipe’ is apt: if you do not have enough brackets holding it up, then the pipe cracks and the water leaks out. So no matter how many leads you pour in from your excellent marketing strategies, they do not make it to the final destination if the conversion funnel is weak. Equally, too many brackets are not only an unnecessary waste of your resources, but could also work against you and end up limiting your pipeline.

The question is then: how do you build a sales pipeline that has the optimal number of sales process steps for your business?

In this video I share the results of an analysis of 50,000 sales leads and the conclusion on what the optimal number of sales process stages are, depending on the size of your targets:

Action Point: Go back to the sales funnel in your business and analyse how many sales attempt steps are built into it. How many are you actually doing? Could you be making this conversion process even better?

Leave a comment on this article and let us know the number of steps in your sales process if you would like us to give you a free review of your sales pipeline and how you could improve it.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

Hi this is Shweta from London Coaching Group, I recently got asked a question – how many sales attempts need to be made to work a lead effectively?

A very interesting question, because what has been commonly found is that when there is a lack of sales process – with not the optimum number of contacts built in, it actually results in a weaker pipeline and a huge amount of wastage of both money and time.

Now to have a sustainable pipeline with proper growth happening, this is what you need to think through. That based on my market, what is my sales process? And how many sales attempts or contact points I need to make with my prospects to improve the conversion and finally maximise the profitability on your marketing, money and efforts.

So let me share with you the result of the analysis of 50,000 sales leads. And actually what is the optimum number based on the small-size market, the mid-size market or the corporates that you might be targeting. Now this is a very interesting analysis, and it should give you a very clear indicator to assess your current sales process, and the number of attempts that your sales team is making or maybe you are making to reach out to your target place.

So let’s have a look at this, the vertical axis is about the Profitability – which is what we are trying to maximise of that lead. And the horizontal axis is about the Sales Attempts that are being made right now, or should be made to maximise the profitability.

So if you are dealing with small business markets, what has been found is that the optimum number of sales attempts that you need to be making or your sales process needs to have built in is 5. That’s where the maximisation happens, if it’s done properly. If you are targeting the mid-market, then the number that you really need to focus on is 8. You need to have 8 sales attempts, before you can think of maximising the profit.

And if it’s corporates and enterprises, as you can imagine – there the lead time or more contacts are required because of the gatekeepers and difficulty of reaching out to the decision maker. And therefore, logically the number will be higher and what has been found it’s number 12.

Now if you are giving up, just after making 9 contacts and wondering why am I not getting my conversion or getting frustrated saying “It’s such a hard task.” Then you are just giving up, when actually the optimum number is 12.

So it’s a very interesting analysis and I really want you to go back to the drawing board for your sales process. Have a look at it, and see what attempts are being built in, what touch points are being built in before you decide on giving up on a lead, or actually making your conversion even better – so that you can have more profitability.

Want More Sales Funnel Strategies?

Shweta provides webinars to exhibit business coaching in action, and to offer the community business advice.

Book your spot on the next one – our system limits it to 100 so make sure you reserve your spot soon.


The Importance of Strategic Planning

Part 2: Strategic Planning

Last week in Part 1 (go to Part 1) we tried to explain what Strategic Planning is and the benefits of such planning for the business.  Today we continue talking about Strategic Planning risks and why it can fail.

Strategic Planning Risks

One of the pitfalls of doing business without a strategic plan in place is the risk of a lack of clarity around accountability across your organisation. Strategic planning should clearly establish accountability for the various tasks required to progress the company. Otherwise it is all too easy for deadlines to be missed, and catastrophic errors to occur in your financial planning, your marketing or your customer service (where only one negative post on social media is enough to undermine all your efforts to build a reputable brand).

In contrast to all of the above, there exists numerous companies who complete strategic plans, only for the documents to sit gathering digital dust on a server somewhere, never to be read. The problem? It was a document they felt they should do for the business plan, but don’t execute in actuality. Indeed more than 70% of companies with a strategic plan never execute it, research suggests. Why is this?

Forbes suggests several reasons why strategic plans fail, most notably among the causes are a reluctance to address large complex issues, and creating a document that is too confusing and while outlaying the issues, clearly leads nowhere. Indeed there are so many options when it comes to the level of depth of strategic plan, that unexperienced strategists can end up wasting a lot of valuable time compiling an unusable and unrealistic ‘plan’. That or it is a ask that gets abandoned long after it was begun; too mind boggling to justify the time requirements. The cost of that wasted time could be better spent in learning how to draw together a realistic and achievable strategic plan – a plan that provides direction to the whole organisation and a reference point for leadership in the face of industry challenges.

At London Coaching Group, you can invest in yourself and your company by learning the skill of creating and executing clear, concise and insightful strategic plans. We help businesses propel themselves forward by showing them how to craft a plan that is precise, exacting and devoid of all the unnecessary stuff. We will show you how to choose the metrics and the KPIs that bring quantifiable boundaries to the steps in the strategic plan. We will teach you how to get your strategic plan working for you. Still not convinced on the importance of a strategic plan and the ability to get it right?

Then consider this: there is demonstrable research based evidence from the Harvard Business Review that strategic planning has a positive impact on profit performance, with others citing businesses using strategic plans as being 12% more profitable.

Can you afford to be without a usable strategic plan? Talk to us today.


 

Part 1: Strategic Planning

drawing wall

 

Would you consider getting on an airplane without knowing where that airplane was going? Neither would we. Strategic planning is the equivalent of Google Maps for a company to achieve their objectives. It’s the tool that guides you on your journey to achieve those objectives, however long and complex that journey may be. In fact, most businesses don’t have a ‘final destination’ per se; once they achieve their objectives, they start the process again with a new set of objectives to achieve business growth.

Regardless of whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, a seasoned managing director or the CEO of a multinational corporate, you need to be skilled at strategic planning. Let’s repeat that: you need to be skilled at strategic planning. That’s right – it is NOT an innate ability, it is not the preserve of the wealthy, highly educated or already successful individual. Money and education can only help you in so far as you can be trained in the strategic planning process – such as the training London Coaching Group provide – but in fact these things are the hoped-for outcomes of learning how to strategically plan; they are not the entry criteria.

Some businesses have a shortage of resources: capital, human and knowledge resources – particularly start ups – and their businesses struggle to survive while they spend their ever shrinking budgets on acquiring these resources, until finally they they are out of operating cash flow and cannot continue. Research shows that of 26,000 failed startup businesses, 67% did not have a strategic plan in place. Other businesses have a wealth of resources, but are unsure where to utilise those resources for the best return on investment, or perhaps  they are struggling to see new growth opportunities once their current objectives are achieved and their revenues diminish as they reach market saturation.

It is hoped that most businesses and individuals have goals. Goals are great – but the problem is they are only the destination. For quote-a-goal-without-a-planexample, putting your business goals in front of a group of investors is only showing them where you want to end up, and not how you will get there. Goals are the overarching reason why a strategic plan is needed. A strategic plan contains the step by step ‘directions’ you will follow as you conquer the territory on the way to your destination.

Another benefit is that it forces business owners into considering what their mission statement should be. If you don’t have a mission statement already, you really need one. Often it gets overlooked by startups and entrepreneurs as they get bogged down in the day to day of getting their product or service out to the market. And yet your mission statement is your raison d’etre  – your absolute singular purpose – against which your core values, your business decisions and your growth trajectory should be judged.

One of the most critical things about strategic planning is that you need to be able to objectively assess where you are in your journey – now. This is a lot harder than it seems as it is hard to stay objective when looking at the culmination of your efforts so far. Learning how to create a strategic plan will give you the tools and techniques to establish your baseline objectively. You cannot move forward until you accurately locate where you are now.

Go to (Part 2) of this article….

This article was contributed by Lindsey from Flow20, who offer web design, SEO and other digital marketing solutions.

Want to plan for sustainable growth?

How to planLearn the effective strategic planning process that we use with our own clients at the Strategic Growth Intensive.

 

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