Over the last two years I have been invited on numerous occasions to speak on "Success by Design" to the graduate service marketing class at Pepperdine University's George L. Graziadio Graduate School of Business. The reason I am invited to speak is that the class semester project sometimes is the development of a plan for a day spa . Always it is a valuable learning experience and an opportunity for me to get reactions and feedback from an exceptional pool of business professionals and leaders in their individual industries.
Sometimes we all need to step out of our known surroundings and engage with others that might be doing things differently to discover, learn and grow. Also, when we expand our horizons this way we have the opportunity to gain knowledge that might not be commonly know to others in our industry and instantly may give us a potential competitive edge over them.
To this point I would like continue our discussion on uniqueness and developing our own individual "wow factor" by touching on the corner stone topic of UVP, or Unique Value Propositions.
What is a Unique Value Proposition? Simply put your unique value proposition is a clear statement, that aligns with your current target market conditions, challenges and desires. It aims to communicate the unique contribution your company, products and services provide to your market different than your competitors.
A Good UVPs is an absolute prerequisite to hoping to achieve amazing success with your business. It is the foundation first step on your roadmap to success. and as such your market research, ideas and strategic planning should lead to your UVP. You should set out to create your services, signature treatments, and product lines around your unique value proposition and not the other way around! This is a common mistake and in part why roughly 90% of small businesses that fail in the first 5-years do so.
As Anthony K. Tjan, CEO of venture capital firm Cue Ball put it in his Harvard Business Review blog "most people can't explain what their company does - its value proposition" and this can not only be confusing to your potential market and on why they should spend their hard earned dollars at your spa verses the any other one down the street but also can cause fogginess and lack of clarity for your employees who are your face people and ambassadors to your new and returning clients.
Another very important thing to not lose focus of in the development of your UVP is relevance, As in relevance to your potential customers. This is a tricky topic because such things as best bang for your buck, health, aesthetics, luxury and status, newness/must have, self actualization and socializing are usually very relevant in the Spa industry but the degrees of relevance may shift and change over time making it clear that another aspect of UVPs is that they are a living thing not a static statement and will need to be constantly adjusted to remain relevant and effective a guiding bench mark for your business.
So set some time aside as you begin your new year in earnest and try and develop your own unique answers to the following questions:
- What differentiates you? and how can you present that in a short and sweet message to your market in a confident and assured way highlighting how it can be a benefit; A good rule of thumb to keep you concise is to make the statement short and concise enough that you can deliver it effectively even at a cocktail party at a noisy venue !
- What is the market trying to tell you right now about what they need and want?
- What short-term and long-term opportunities are there for you to capitalize on? Many people I find will express what they want today and would have liked yesterday but not what they may like tomorrow. This, if done right and sensitively, can provide you an opportunity to educate and guide demand...but again don't forget relevance to the market and clients in how you go about doing it.
- I said it before but will repeat this again and again...Look outside your industry and study success of all types that is going on around you. Try to understand what their UVP are and how they differentiate themselves from their competitors.
- Lastly, not only know your strengths but also take a deep and honest inventory of your weaknesses and take the first steps to strengthen the one and correct the other making sure you are in a good position to deliver on your UVP. Better still, now that you know honestly what your unique strengths are build your UVP around them.
In closing, I will share with you what I tend to end with when speaking at Pepperdine, remember to think big, have fun and un-restrict your imagination when sitting down to come up with your unique value proposition. Be creative in your own unique way; but then again you already know that simply being the best price around is not enough to separate you from your competition.
Don't get burned in 2012 make it a priority to develop your individual UVP factor; the first step towards developing your WOW!