The above is one of the most basic, fundamental questions we need to answer for our customers. Recently a new member, Anthony Hernandez of Full Service Tech, Inc. asked “How do I develop an effective USP?” The longer, more detailed and accurate answer is found in both the Toolkit and Blueprint with exercises provided for doing client and market research. Don’t skip it or skim through it lightly as most do. Here’s why:
You are grossly ignorant if you expect to be successful in business simply because you started a company offering IT support.
Most business owners (myself included) start out massively unaware of the herculean effort it takes to attract new clients. Clients have a multitude of options and, in case you haven’t noticed, there isn’t any shortage of IT companies out there that your customers can locate in seconds using the Internet. If anybody needs anything they can locate multiple companies willing to supply. With so many options so easily available, WHY SHOULD THEY CHOOSE YOU?
Although most clients want me to, I can’t answer that question for them. The answer depends on a number of things, including your skill level, how you package, price and deliver your services, who you are targeting, etc. But I will say this: If you position yourself as an interchangeable commodity, offering the same services in the same way at the same price point as everyone else, you’re pushing a rope uphill. But, I will share with you the following short list of what people WILL buy and WILL pay top dollar for:
Over the last 10 years of flying out of the Nashville Airport, I’ve seen their valet parking go from a small, hidden cubby hole used by only a select few to (recently) a complete revamp of the area that you pull your car into to accommodate the boom in business. I’ve also seen them raise their prices from $12 a day to $22 a day, which had no affect whatsoever in the number of people using this service. They’ve also added car wash and cleaning services, oil changes and assistance with your baggage to the check-in gates, all for a fee. All during one of the worse economic periods of our lives. I’ve seen a proliferation of these types of services coming online, from personal chefs who will shop, cook and clean up for you to people who will rid your backyard of dog brownies. Convenience is now “baked in” to a number of new products, including my key fob for the BMW (it doesn’t even require me to push a button to open the car—I just have to touch the handle as long as the key is in my purse), the 100 calorie packs that take the angst out of measuring out a serving and even supermarkets that will allow you to shop online and have the groceries delivered to your door. If you’ve been in the IT industry for 10 years plus, you’ll recall a time when it was the norm for small business owners to bring their PCs to your shop for repair. Now, thanks to remote support, it’s “inconvenient” to wait for a technician to show up. Never lose sight of this: people WILL pay for convenience. The more you can position your service as something that will save people time, aggravation, etc. the higher price point you can charge.
This is a big one, particularly for CEOs of larger, fast-growth companies, but it’s applicable to every scenario. If you’re getting shopped on price, it’s because you’re not sufficiently convincing your prospect of your competence over the next dozen MSPs/IT consultants. Whenever I talk with clients/ peers about vendors, they are always far more concerned about the type of service delivered than the price. That’s because successful CEOs know you’ll pay more in the long run for a cheaper service that doesn’t deliver the end result. When I hired my current CPA, price didn’t even come up as a criteria because I needed someone competent and trustworthy—something I gladly paid double for over the CPA I was using who constantly made mistakes, overlooked important details and could never give me straight answers about anything. IT services aren’t too far off that mark either. Business owners want to hire someone who will “just make it all work,” which is another way of saying they want someone competent to do the job.
3. An Experience
The first two will (hopefully) spark some immediate, applicable ideas on developing your USP; but this next one will probably be overlooked and dismissed by those without an imaginative mind. It’s a shame too since this is an area that is vastly untouched by IT service firms, leaving the playing field wide open with no competitors. My favorite example of this is the Pike’s Place Fish Market located in Seattle. On various trips I’ve made to the market, I’ve always enjoyed visiting this one particular fish monger, famous for “throwing the fish.” There are at least 3 other competitors selling the same products to the same audience at the same price point literally a few feet away, yet this is the ONLY one that consistently has a crowd of people standing around, taking pictures and buying things just to have the “experience” of the guys chanting and throwing your fish to either you or one of the guys at the top of the stand to wrap and deliver. Starbucks is the success it is largely due to the “experience” they deliver to their clients. High- end hotels charge two to three times more than their competitors in the same area because of one thing: the luxury experience they offer. Disney is a behemoth of a company, overshadowing all other theme parks and vacation spots because of the experience they deliver to their clientele. We have consistently sold out our Boot Camps over the last 5 years because we work hard delivering not just a seminar, but an experience. Even if this isn’t your sole USP, a profitable exercise for you to conduct is investing time in designing the “experience” you want your clients to have whenever they interact with your company. How do you want them to feel? If you deliver the same experience as everyone else and deliver exactly what you promised, you only get satisfied customers. But satisfied customers don’t buy and refer the same way that raving fans do.