24 Aug, 2020

How To Use What’s Unique To You To Gain a Competitive Advantage

Here are some little known facts about Finland.

There are 5.5 million people living in Finland. Correspondingly, there are about the same amount of Finnish speakers worldwide. 

That certainly isn’t much, especially compared to the 1.1 billion English speakers out there.

But it was enough to help young entrepreneur Ahmed Hadi discover his unique selling proposition and steer his ecommerce store to success.

In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of having a unique selling proposition to gain an advantage over your competitors and how to identify yours.

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The Importance of Having a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Ahmed’s first three stores targeted the United States. The 330 million-people market appealed to him, as it normally does to many first-time ecommerce store owners.

He thought that the large market meant high sales potential and not needing to put much effort into marketing

He was wrong.

“Surely, if I market to them they will wanna buy it without a compelling product description. Anyway, so that store ended up doing zero in revenue,” says Ahmed.

With his fourth store, he went local and found success. He had the experience from his previous stores to know what to do and what not to do. 

But it was his Finnish mother tongue that gave him the upper hand because it appealed to his target audience.

To quote Nelson Mandela, 

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

Having a unique selling proposition is something that not many new entrepreneurs give much thought to. And when they do, it’s common to default to, “I don’t know anything special.” 

But when it comes to running a business, knowing what your unique selling proposition is can be that fine line separating success and failure. 

So how can you identify your unique selling point? 

How To Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition

For Ahmed, having a mother tongue spoken by just 5 million people worldwide gave him his advantage.

But language isn’t the only thing that can differentiate you from your competitors. There are plenty of entrepreneurs that have found success with other selling points. 

Here are some of them and how they’ve used their unique selling propositions to find entrepreneurial success.

Knowledge

If you’re particularly knowledgeable about a subject, you pretty much already know a good lot about your target audience and their interests.

That’s exactly what propelled ecommerce entrepreneur Paul Lee to success. 

His personal quest to grow a beard launched him into researching everything there is to know about beards. That’s when he discovered a market potential for beard growth and care products.

Armed with the knowledge he’d gathered from his research, he launched a beard grooming ecommerce store that has since made him six-figures.

Interest

Admittedly, Paul’s beard knowledge applies to a pretty niche product. But your interests and passion can also be a unique selling point.

In dropshipping husband-and-wife duo Shishir and Namrata’s case, it was Namrata’s shopping obsession that made the difference.

“I love checking out new items and products. I’m always scrolling on AliExpress,” says Namrata.

Having spent so much time browsing, she’s developed a scent for unusual products and the ability to source for them from all corners of the web, which inspired the couple to launch their own ecommerce store selling unique products.

Skills

Whether it’s from a hobby, picked up at school, accumulated from work experience, or otherwise, skills can be a powerful differentiator.

Successful entrepreneur Adam Greenspan is a designer by trade – a skill he used to create one-of-a-kind products (in his case, night lights) that no competitors can ever get their hands on.

Today, not only are half of the night lights sold by his manufacturer his designs, but they’re also on the shelves of big-name US stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. 

Product

One of the best selling points any ecommerce store can have is having a unique product.

And Adrien Taylor’s products are the epitome of that.

Using cutouts from his father’s curtain business to create caps, Adrien’s products are his trump cards.

And aside from being uniquely different from other caps on the market, they’re also limited. Because Adrien’s products rely on discarded fabric, once it’s used up, no more of the same design can be produced. 

This perpetual “limited edition” nature of his products is an added plus for Adrien because it creates hype and urgency, which are major driving factors of sales. 

Market

Though Finnish did give Ahmed the advantage needed for his ecommerce store, that wasn’t his only unique selling point.

Living in Finland, Ahmed was living in his target market. He didn’t only understand it, he was essentially it. 

And that was something that he capitalized on. After realizing that he could use his mother tongue as an advantage to appeal to Finns, he took things further.

He got ahold of a 20-page research done by his local post office about Finns’ online shopping behavior, which provided him with additional valuable insights into his target audience.

Knowing that Finns have a preference for relatively unconventional payment methods like bank transfers, MobilePay, and Klarna, he implemented all of these options into his store to facilitate checkout so that customers would always be able to pay.

Conclusion

Having a unique selling point can define your store in ways that set it apart from your competitors. 

It’s essentially what makes buyers pick you over them.

In the words of Coco Chanel,

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

You may not be able to identify your unique selling proposition off the bat because it isn’t always easy to. 

But when you look hard and deep enough, there’s almost always an area of expertise that you can use to your advantage.

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Ying Lin: Ying Lin is a journalist-turned-content marketer who is on a journey to help companies scale. She is also the co-founder of Dear Content, a content marketing boutique.