I had the pleasure of chatting with Eric McCarthy, senior vice president of Coca-Cola, a while back. He shared some of the strategies they employed to reinvigorate the Coca-Cola brand (they don’t use the “Coke” word in Atlanta).
I know what you’re thinking, “As if anything a multibillion-dollar global brand has done would be germane to my business!” Trust me, it’s relevant.
Make Your Unique Value Proposition The ‘Real Thing’
It doesn’t matter how many zeros are in your P&L, sound marketing principles are applicable to every business situation and marketing challenge. The fundamentals of positioning (owning a place in the minds of your target consumers) and promotion (generating awareness, interest and sales) still apply regardless of your budget.
McCarthy talked about how making the product relevant to the consumer — from a value perspective — is imperative to acquiring new customers and creating loyalty. It all boils down to developing and leveraging a “unique value proposition.”
The purpose is to differentiate your company from those competing for mind share in the same space. It’s also refered to as a “unique selling proposition” or “value proposition”; those are only half right. The two non-negotiables of positioning are being “unique” and being “valued.” That’s why I call it a “unique value proposition” (UVP). Just what we need, another marketing acronym.
To ensure your UVP has traction in the marketplace it needs to distinguish you from your competition, and that distinction (unique competency) must be valued by your target market. Here’s how you go about it.
First conduct a SWOT Analysis to catalogue and prioritize actionable strengths, weaknesses (internal conditions in your control), and opportunities and threats (external conditions outside your control).
Then you’ll need to gather two data sets to determine which of your competencies will stick. You have to know the strengths and weaknesses of your key competitors. You’ll also need an accurate understanding of what your customers’ value most about your offering.
A POS (point of sale) survey will reveal customer preferences. If you’re in retail, your POS is the cash register, e-commerce/Web site, service/delivery. Find out (from your best customers) what they perceive as hot and what’s not.
To do a competitive comparison, I use a UVP matrix (two-dimensional chart). The rows in the first column identify each factor or value measured, e.g. target market, core product attribute, price and key features crucial to your category (quality, service, guarantee, delivery, selection, etc.).
The next column (to the right) is where you’ll document how you rate in each area measured. Next to your data is one column for each competitor you’ll be evaluating. Document how each of them stacks up against the same factors. This will likely require some competitive research.
Review the data and circle all of your “unique” competitive strengths. If you can’t find any, you don’t have a competitive advantage; time to refresh your offering. Finally, align your unique competencies to the top customer values and choose the strongest match.
Once you’ve landed on the best UVP, incorporate it in everything you do. When you make a brand promise, you should live up to it. You don’t have to be Coca-Cola to make your UVP the “real thing” for consumers in your niche.