need to answer it for me, competently and succinctly,
within seconds, or I'm moving on to the next search result
in a list of 6,620 entries. How? Easy! You're going to
tell me your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
not just me. Every one of your visitors is asking the same
thing. It's the biggest "What's In It For Me?" (W.I.I.F.M.)
question your visitors have: why you? Yet lots of
businesses online and off don’t provide an answer - and
very few online ones make sure that answer appears on
their landing and home pages. If you can’t cut through
the clutter, grab attention and communicate immediately
that you offer value nobody else has, your visitors are
gone to someone who can.
USP is a strong, concise, simple statement about your
business or brand that tells your prospects why you are
the only alternative for them. Two, three sentences at
most. Not an advertising slogan (although that's one use
for your USP), but an answer to The Implicit Question.
got around to your USP yet? Then it's time to roll up
those shirt sleeves.
down every possible reason you can think of why someone
would want to do business with you. If you want the best
results from this exercise, involve everybody in your
company in a high-energy brainstorming session (yeah,
everybody - you’ll be amazed where some of the best
ideas come from).
be afraid to get professional help on this. Your survival
can depend on it. Afterwards, review the list and
eliminate everything that is also true of your
competitors. If a competitor can make the same claim, it's
not a "unique" proposition. Some quick
What is unique about your product, service or brand
compared to your direct competitors?
Which of these factors are most important to your
Which of these factors are most difficult for your
competitors to imitate?
Which of these factors can be understood most easily
by your prospects?
create a memorable message out of these unique, meaningful
qualities. Make sure it’s a message that speaks to the
need your prospective customers feel, not some
self-centered stuff about you. And here’s the extra
discipline part: keep editing and distilling until it’s
at most 2-3 concise sentences.
might surprise you, but good service, good selection, fair
prices and honest dealing are NOT effective components of
your USP. Why? These are things your prospects already
expect. “Declaring” them gives folks that same queasy
feeling you get when a used car salesman says, “let me
be honest with you…” So there were times he was lying?
Besides, they’re “me-too’s.” Anybody can (and
does) say them.
Future Now, Inc.: The Conversion Rate Specialists:
Persuading your prospects to take ACTION!
Avis: We Try Harder.
your homework. Come up with a crisp, powerful statement
that answers your visitors' implicit question and engages
their imaginations and emotions. Position it prominently
on your home page, and watch that conversion rate improve.
WebTrends is offering a FREE
half-day seminar where you'll learn how to
master the essentials of Web analytics and maximize
the return on your WebTrends investment. This is
where their road show is taking them:
Déjà vu: Engineers and Customer Metrics
happens every time. We at Future Now start talking to a
client who's keen to improve conversion rates, and we ask
if there are any site-tracking statistics we can evaluate.
"Oh, geez, yeah!" the client exclaims.
"We've got tons of tracking data." And they do.
Reams of it. Except none of it is particularly helpful to
us because none of it really reveals what is actually
happening as customers use the website. We always find
ourselves back at Square One - it's the inevitable result
when systems are assigned higher priority than customers.
former VP of Programming & Marketing at Home Shopping
Network, has seen it all before, repeatedly, and is
suffering a serious case of déjà vu. I'd like to share his
thoughts and experiences with you.
build it, they will come. They just don't stay. This is
the legacy of "engineering-first" innovation in
consumer services, where every metric is devoted to
tracking how the physical business is running, and none to
tracking customers. How hard would it be to set up
customer reports in the beginning? But it never happens.
What always happens is there is a spurt of intense growth
(accompanied by hallucinogenic stock market valuations),
then the business flatlines and rolls over on its back. I
saw it in cable TV. It Happened again in TV Shopping. Now
it's happening with the Internet.
joined the cable industry in the early 80s, it was all
engineering-driven. The "truck-chasing" days, we
called it. All you had to do was show up with a cable
truck, start stringing cable, and people would run out of
the house yelling, "It's cable! Cable is here! When
can I sign up?" All sales-driven, and all about miles
per day of cable, amplifier density, and number of
"drops" and "traps". Everybody talked
about drops and traps. Customers? Nah.
know what a drop is? A line from the main cable plant to a
customer household. I could get reams of reports on drops.
Nothing on customers.
How many customers do we have?
We have 12,239 drops.
How many former customers do we have?
Why would you count inactive drops? There's no
These are the filters used to control who got HBO and who
got Showtime. I could get reports on how many HBO traps we
ordered and how many we had left. But how many had
Showtime too? How many former HBO customers were there? No
way to tell. All we had was the "net HBO traps"
- I ordered this many, I have this many "in the
barn", so the difference is how many HBO customers I
Well, how many "dual" customers do we have,
HBO and Showtime?
We have 6,783 HBO traps and 3,872 ShowTime traps
But how many customers have both?
What difference does that make? Costs the same to
install one or both, as long as we do it at the same
based on hardware, inventory and so on that mean something
to the people keeping the architecture operational. So
valuable to engineering. So useless to marketing. Who are
my best customers? Who are my former customers? And they
wonder why penetration had stalled at 40% and customer
churn was growing every day. The good news was I fixed it.
It took 6 years.
went into TV Shopping. I'm thinking here's a business
immune from the anti-customer reporting bias. An
electronic business, built by IT engineers, completely and
totally dependant on computers to operate. No computers,
no TV shopping business. Perfect! Every nuance of every
transaction captured. Time of day. Category of
merchandise. Method of payment. A goldmine of data. Not
like cable TV.
asked for reports. The first day, the stack of greenbar
was over four feet high! I'm in heaven, it's a data-driven
marketer's dream! I dig in.
report. Sold 10,000 bracelets yesterday, broken by style,
color, length. Awesome! How many customers bought the
10,000 bracelets. Hmm. Not on this report, must be on
another one. Oh, look at this - sales per minute by
category and by time of day. Wow! How cool is that? How
many customers? What percent were new customers? Hmmm.
Must be another report.
it went. Calls per minute, returns by price point, check
fallout by time of order. Hundreds of metrics - every one
of them based on a transaction: merchandise, capacity,
throughput, inventory, logistics - and not a single one at
the customer level! We're counting every neuron that's
firing, but nobody knows what the brain is thinking.
took 10 years to fix.
Internet. I think, "Here's my chance. They'll listen
this time, because, if nothing else, engineers are
logical. I can show them the math." I write a book.
Put up a website. Lay out the whole thing - here's exactly
how you do it. Collect this data. Here are the metrics
what do people decide to track? Hits, page views, browser
types, files downloaded - machine stuff. As bad as cable
TV. The net retailers tracked just enough to fulfill
(barely) the orders - usually SKU's with no further
detail. Worse than TV shopping! But customer level data?
Nah. Furthest thing from their minds.
does this keep happening over and over? Is there any way
to get in front of it? What will it take for the engineers
to realize, in the midst of their heady glee with being
new and innovative, that the same things always happen to
these technology-driven services:
They don't set up customer-oriented reporting.
They don't know what customers are worth, or how they
really use the service.
They way over-project long-term profitability.
They invest in infrastructure beyond what is needed.
The customer side catches up with the hardware side
and the business rolls over nearly dead.
The engineers call marketing to fix it.
Marketing tells the engineers it's going to be a long
hard road because they screwed it up so badly already.
ideas? Anyone? How can we stop them from hurting
always thinking about the ideal tracking system at Future
Now (see "The
Ideal Tracking System,")
and helping you rethink how you collect the data that will
allow you to identify and remedy obstacles in your
website's conversion system (see "Measuring
Your Sales Success,"). We even offer a free, downloadable
suite of calculators to get you started.
Because at the end of the day, your goal is to build a
business, not a house of cards. Right?