Is Your USP Crisis-Proof? How to Make Your Offer Stand Out Right Now
Every business owner on the planet is facing the same challenge right now.
For the first time in history, they know exactly what their customers are thinking about, day in and day out.
The marketing messages they’ve been using to generate leads, qualify prospects, and convert customers are suddenly failing.
This isn’t a problem with your offer or your brand. They’re as amazing as ever!
It’s a problem of positioning and communicating your unique value proposition.
Selling points and benefits that used to work pre-crisis aren’t resonating with your customers as well as they used to. You need new ones, fine-tuned to what your market needs to hear in these unprecedented times.
And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
In this week’s article, we’ll show you how to crisis-proof your positioning and USP to align with what your customers need right now. That way, you can make sure your brand and your offer remain top of mind for them — even during COVID-19.
You will learn:
- 3 questions you need to be asking to realign your positioning in response to the coronavirus
- Which aspects of your offer or brand to focus on right now (because they’re more relevant than ever)
- How to adapt your marketing and messaging to the crisis so you can attract your target customers’ attention and generate new business
Let’s start with the most important question…
How did your customers’ priorities shift?
The situation we’re living through right now is not normal. So chances are, your target audience looks at buying decisions very differently now than even 3 months ago — no matter what industry you’re in.
For example, if you’re in the B2B market, then your customers probably have two kinds of benefits in mind:
- Increasing their revenue, OR
- Cutting costs
In the past, benefit #1 would almost always win out compared to #2. But now you might find that your market is more concerned with keeping what they have, rather than growing their businesses. So any message that emphasizes loss aversion vs. taking advantage of new opportunities will be more appealing to them.
(Note that this doesn’t mean you can’t sell growth-focused offers right now — only that you need to be mindful of these priorities.)
In the B2C segment, your market’s priorities might shift in many different directions, depending on who you serve and what you sell.
Consumers who used to value convenience might sacrifice it in favor of increased quality, because they have more time on their hands. Buyers who weren’t price-sensitive before may start looking for savings. People who weren’t normally part of your target audience might consider buying from you — e.g. because they’re bored!
Bottom line, you want to think about what used to be important to your customers vs. what they see as a priority right now during coronavirus. And then, you want to test your assumptions to see if they align with reality:
- Do some market research and see what your target audience is talking about online. How do they feel? What information are they sharing?
- Examine your interactions with leads and prospects. Go through customer support logs, incoming emails, comments, sales reports and look for patterns that might give you insights into what your market needs right now.
- Interview or survey your existing customers. This will not only help you understand your market’s response to this crisis better, but also give you ideas about how to retain the buyers you already have!
From there, it’s time to turn your attention to your own business. Namely, you want to ask yourself…
What about your offer/brand is super-relevant to customers right now?
Like we said before: during this crisis, your target market will approach their buying decisions very differently. Certain things they used to love about your offer or brand might become less important, or even completely irrelevant.
That means, you have to earn their attention with something else — some other aspect of your product, service, or your entire business that aligns perfectly with your customers’ new priorities.
That could be:
- Your focus on safety and quality control. Brands that prioritize safety and wellness of their customers and employees are getting more attention (and more buyers).
- Your fast and efficient delivery. Consumers everywhere are facing shipping delays and cancellations. Any company that bucks this trend will do better than the competition.
- Your transparency and flexibility with payments. Customers are extra risk-averse right now — so they choose companies that provide them with more options.
- Your product’s ease of use. People want to avoid unnecessary stress in a crisis; so any product that doesn’t make them spend time on installation/setup/figuring it out wins.
- Your product’s longevity/reliability. In uncertain times customers put a premium on reliable, long-lasting purchases. Nobody wants to deal with repairs or returns when there’s a pandemic on!
- Your guarantee. Like we said, customers are extra risk-averse right now. If you can offer a compelling guarantee that protects them from all (or most of) the risk, you’ll have a much better chance at getting their attention.
- Your stellar customer service/onboarding. If you can make it easy and hassle-free for customers to buy from you, customize your product or service to their needs, and get the most out of it, that’s an even bigger competitive advantage now.
Audit every aspect of your offer (and your business as a whole) and ask yourself: does this serve my customers’ needs right now? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to move on to the next question…
How can you communicate those advantages in your marketing?
Here’s the thing:
Even if your brand is perfectly positioned to serve your customers during this crisis… they might not know about it. It’s your job to signal to them, “Hey, if this is what you need right now, here’s how we can deliver!”
This is the stage where most brands go wrong.
They assume that all they have to do is send out one email about COVID-19, put out a feel-good “we’re here for you” ad, or create a “Coronavirus” tab for their homepage, and boom! — their business is now crisis-proof.
Sadly, it doesn’t work like that.
You can’t retool your positioning with a one-off campaign or small changes to your website. No, you have to examine the entirety of your marketing and figure out how to adapt your strategy in response to this crisis.
This is a three-step process:
Step 1. Look at where and how you’re messaging your target market about your offers or your business.
Step 2. Identify “weak links” in your marketing — places where your old, pre-crisis messaging clashes with your customers’ new priorities and needs.
Step 3. Update your marketing and messaging to highlight more relevant aspects of your offer or your brand.
Now, this doesn’t mean plastering the words “COVID-19” and “Coronavirus” all over everything. Counter-intuitively, the pandemic is actually not the first thing on your customers’ minds! Rather, it means adjusting your messages to emphasize what your customers need right now.
How exactly you’re going to do that comes down to your preferred marketing channels, who your target audience is, and where your marketing “weak links” are.
For example, let’s say that you run a consulting firm. And you rely on outbound sales, paid traffic, and content marketing to attract and convert new clients. What could be some of your marketing “weak links”?
Let’s take a look…
- For starters, you will want to update your paid funnel as soon as possible! If you just keep paying to blast irrelevant messages to your leads, your marketing budget will absolutely melt away. Adjust the messaging of your ads to speak to your client’s current needs and priorities — like saving money or uncovering untapped assets and opportunities.
- Then, you will need to train your sales reps to handle objections related to this crisis. Teach them how to counter people’s concerns about investing in a premium consulting service during coronavirus, and how to direct prospects towards results — away from the scarcity mindset.
- Finally, you want to update your landing pages, opt-in forms and other critical assets that help you generate leads. Highlight the aspects of your service that are super-relevant to your potential clients right now — like your results guarantee, or your previous track record of success.
- You can even go the extra mile and launch a service package specifically for businesses affected by COVID-19, to help them survive and thrive through this crisis.
Tip: Want a real-life example? Look at how brands in hardest-hit industries are handling their COVID messaging. E.g. Alaska Airlines changed their entire website and marketing to address their passengers fears, concerns, and needs during coronavirus. It’s obvious in some places and more subtle in others — but the overall impression is that their brand is perfectly in tune with what their customers are thinking.
The truth is, marketing during this crisis is no different from any other time. Yes, there’s a newfound urgency to adapt your positioning and messaging to stay relevant and reach your audience — but the core principles are still the same.
If you deeply understand what your customers need, and how your brand can serve them, you will always be able to earn their business and loyalty… even in a global pandemic.
You got this.
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