Maybe it’s your quality – you make better stuff than anyone else. Maybe it’s your service – you really care about keeping customers happy. Or, perhaps it’s your knowledge and experience – you’ve done this stuff for years and you’ve seen it all.
When it comes to copywriting for businesses, one of the key challenges you face is putting into words the ways your business is better than the competition.
It’s the single most important element of your messaging – the statements that tell customers why they should buy from you, whether it’s your USP or supporting statements.
So you lay it out for ‘em:
- “We’re a high quality, premium provider of X”
- “We offer the best in customer service”
- “We know this industry inside and out”
I’ve got bad news for you – your customers don’t believe you.
Telling a customer you’re a “high-quality, premium agency” is like meeting someone for the first time and telling them that you’re the most hilarious person they’ve ever met.
- They have no reason to trust you.
- They’ve seen no proof of your claim.
- Just because you say it doesn’t mean it’s true.
Those are some of the laziest, most worthless USP’s possible.
And maybe worst of all, EVERYONE ELSE is making the exact same claim. After all, wouldn’t every business claim to care about customers or offer the best product on the market?
Bad USPs and positioning statements usually have all of the following in common:
- They’re not really unique
- They’re impersonal
- They’re unspecific
- They’re not verifiable (“We’re the best at X!”)
- They don’t make a promise that the customer cares about
You can’t just TELL people you’re something – you have to give them reason to believe it.
In fact, some of the best copywriting in the world doesn’t bean people over the head with bland claims to greatness and instead leads them to arrive at those conclusions on their own.
You can seduce people into believing what you need them to about your business.
How do you write like that? It starts by asking better questions.
Here are three simple but powerful questions you can use to turn your bland USP into a irresistible offer.
1. What do your customers really value?
Spoiler alert: Customers don’t want “high-quality”. High quality is a descriptor of an experience, but it’s not the mechanics of what makes a product or experience worth having. “Quality” is an outcome of answering a pain point. Let me explain:
- A “high quality” bathrobe is one that feels silky smooth and comfortable. The customer wants comfort, not “quality”.
- A “high quality” drill is one that will stand up to the rough and tumble hazards of a workplace. The customer wants durability. Not “quality”.
- A “high quality” kitchen contractor is the guy who shows up on time and works transparently until the job is completed as ordered. The customer wants trustworthiness, not “quality”.
If you want to make your message more compelling, start by identifying the underlying pain points and problems your customers have:
- “I don’t want to talk to a robot – I want personalized service.”
- “My kids are starving and I’ve got no time to cook – I need something cheap and fast.”
- “I’ve got a crushing headache – I need something that will act quickly and work every time.”
When you know the pain points a customer is trying to avoid, you can then start addressing the specific ways you meet those pain points. You can structure your copy to do more than make a bland claim and instead offer up an answer and a promise to deliver what they’re really coming to you for.
This is also a question of priority and importance: Preaching the wrong benefit won’t win you any customers. A client may not care about whether or not your product is easy to use if it’s more powerful than any other product on the market. Likewise, a client may not care about your price range if they’re really concerned about the kind of service and support they’ll get over the product’s life time.
Don’t just know what they want – know what they want most, then promise it to them. And when you can, offer social proof to support your claims: Reviews, testimonials, user counts and so on all give some credibility to your claims.
2. Who are your customers trying to become (Or: How do they want to feel)?
You’ve probably heard the quote, “People don’t buy products – they buy a better version of themselves”.
Your USP and positioning statements should be a taste of things to come – a hint at how the customer can feel and the person that they can become if only they invest in your offering.
An example from my own work comes from a maid service website. Most of the competition were harping on “great service, thorough clean” and so on – but while those are the base things people want, what they really want is to feel the peace of mind coming home to a house where everything has been done without them having to lift a finger.
So we rolled with this:
“We could talk about our systematized house cleaning methods and checklists, but what matters to you is coming home to a spotless house and knowing nothing’s been overlooked. We’ll learn your preferences and earn your trust with each and every clean.”
It’s a direct, tangible promise to deliver an outcome.
3. Why do you do what you do?
There’s a great video from Simon Sinek where he talks about starting with your “Why”. (It’s a bit long – so maybe bookmark it for later, but definitely watch it!)
There’s a reason your business exists (beyond profit) – something you believe or a value you hold that those who choose your business also hold.
As Simon puts it, “People don’t buy what you do – they buy why you do it.”
When you can weave those beliefs and values into your USP, you can help people see what makes you special without reciting it like a bad actor.
Puttin’ it into action:
Let’s take a look at some comparisons of boring statements, and better alternatives that answer the questions posed above.
- Boring: “We’re a high-quality digital marketing agency”. (Zzzzzzz)
- Better: “We built the agency we would’ve wanted ourselves.”
Without even saying it, the second statement shows that the business owners are so fanatical about quality that they built their own business to offer it. As a bonus, it even alludes to their experience. Without explicitly saying it, they’ve proven to the reader that they really get this stuff.
- Boring: “We build fast, easy-to-use accounting software” (Yawn…)
- Better: “Accounting made for you, the non-accountant.” (Via FreshBooks)
The second statement shows that the business values the same things their audience does: “You can handle it.” In all of their communications, FreshBooks zeroes in on a core belief of their audience: Independence.
- Boring: “Our rental agents offer the best in service.”
- Better: “Enterprise: We’ll Pick You Up” (Via Enterpise)
The first statement is boilerplate. The second is a promise – “We’re so committed to service, we’re going to pick you up.” A lead reads into that and takes away the message that Enterprise cares about the same things they do and is willing to put their money where their mouth is.
- Boring: “I’ll write you quality website copy.”
- Better: “I’ll help you turn sceptics into advocates and leads into paying customers.” (Via.. well, me!)
Don’t Be Lazy.
When it comes to your messaging, are you bashing out vague platitudes – or irresistibly compelling offers?
The next time you find yourself typing “We’re a high quality _______”, stop. Remember that your customers are looking for you to prove to them you care, and that you can demonstrate your values with your words instead of hammering people over the head and praying they believe you.
Show some personality, mirror their values and start with your “Why”, and you’ll be on your way to writing copy that the competition will wish they thought of first.