As I write this, I’m on a Saturday evening flight from Melbourne to Philly after an extraordinarily successful one-day Lab Event at one of my favorite customer’s stores. Success in retail generally comes from getting lots of things right simultaneously, but it helps to have an overarching advantage that comes from a powerful Unique Selling Proposition. So this month, let’s examine this fundamental marketing concept by considering its application in a real world scenario.
Our Case Study begins last April, as I contemplated a SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) analysis of the company for which I had just become President. What opportunity or advantage could an LGD grower obtain or convey as the result of having 4,500 CVD machines, by far the largest possessed by any other single company, and the number my new owners were forecasting to have in place by the end of 2023?
The obvious advantage is scale, and in any technology-driven business, scale matters. So, this would be where I would focus my B to B messaging strategy: Size Matters. But my view of the catalysts for the expansion of supplier market share has always included the inherent notion that it’s actually the consumer who is the ultimate arbiter of B to B success. What they buy, and from whom they choose to buy it, separates the winning suppliers from the also rans. And sadly, in this business there is no prize for coming in second.
It was in this context of attempting to conceptualize a core benefit to drive B to C sales for our dealers that I stumbled upon a potentially game-changing idea. Since it’s ultimately my objective to place 2,000 dealers nationally, what’s the one thing that I can do that my competitors can’t, that will also convey a spectacular B to C advantage to my dealer network?
When the answer occurred to me, I was surprised by its simplicity. And as I started to contemplate the various ways I could use it to help them, it was also immediately clear that with this idea, I could create what Warren Buffet calls an “Economic Moat” (a reference to a business’s ability to maintain a competitive advantage over its competitors in order to protect its long-term profits and market share) for each dealer in their local market. That idea, simply put, is to assign to each dealer their own CVD Growing Chamber, effectively making them a grower themselves.
In the course of populating the initial dealer network, this idea of acquiring grower status has resonated with retailers in a powerful way. And now, as we deploy 8-week automated social media marketing campaigns featuring the “I’m a Grower” message to support each dealer, it’s exciting to see the concept in action.
Earlier today, as I attended the Lab Event at Wesche Jewelers in Melbourne and saw the store’s sales team rack up over $215,000 dollars in lab sales in a single day, it was extremely gratifying to watch as sales associates pointed to the video of the laboratory featuring the image of the growing machine with the Wesche logo, and then proudly explained that Wesche Jewelers is now a grower, with all the benefits to consumers that flow from being at the top of the supply chain. It was even better to see the jaw dropping expressions on shoppers’ faces as they first absorbed the implications of the grower story, and then consumed the diamond jewelry.
All of which causes me to ask you a question: as you consider your own company’s SWOT analysis, what’s your Unique Selling Proposition? What can you offer, or what can you do, that conveys a unique consumer benefit in your local market? Remember: USP’s are derived from features, but are only persuasive when you enumerate the benefits that can be conveyed by those features. What features does your company uniquely possess that produce benefits that will cause consumers in your local market to select you as their jewelry store?
Sometimes, the unique feature can be a special talent for either design or benchwork. Or perhaps it’s the special cachet that your box possesses with affluent consumers in the market. And yes, sometimes, it can be an element that is conveyed by a supplier with whom you have an exclusive arrangement, in the way that Wesche Jewelers is taking advantage of their newfound status as a grower.
As you read this, I suspect that you are experiencing a contraction in sales, owing to a variety of economic and geopolitical elements outside of your control. I’m not sure how long the contraction will occur, or how deeply it will impact your sales. But I am confident that as we enter the next economic cycle, your store will benefit from giving this whole idea of developing a powerful Unique Selling Proposition some thought.
If you can properly address this intellectual challenge, you’ll achieve the ability to position your company to ride a robust revenue stream into the future. Find your thermonuclear USP, and a then cultivate a message delivery system to convey it, and you’ll see a market share lift that will leave your competitors green with envy, and your accountant suddenly wondering where the pile of money came from.