|Your business – whether you are an information marketer, retailer, catalog merchant, manufacturer, service provider, freelancer, or consultant – has not one but two unique selling propositions (USPs): the tangible and the intangible.
The tangible USP is the visible, quantifiable differentiator between you and your competitors. Because it can be seen, felt, described, and grasped, the tangible USP is the one you feature in your marketing copy.
Example: years ago, before digital cameras were invented, Polaroid’s USP was that its cameras produced instant pictures. With all other cameras, you had to take the film to get it developed. But with Polaroid, the picture would develop when exposed to air, in about a minute, allowing you to view the image almost instantly.
The intangible USP, for most entrepreneurs as well as many larger companies, is your personality and reputation, which in the corporate marketing world might be called your “image.”
The intangible benefit can be just as important in closing sales and attracting repeat business as the tangible benefit.
Yet it takes a secondary place in marketing copy, if it is there at all. The reason is that intangible USPs are difficult to describe in a way that is clear and compelling – even though it may in fact be enormously valuable.
For instance, TP owns a local camera store near my office that sells the same cameras as all other camera stores.
Many of the big chain stores sell these cameras at lower prices and carry a wider selection, giving them a tangible advantage over TP’s little shop.
TP’s advantage over them – in this case, the intangible benefit — is his infectious enthusiasm for the art and craft of photography.
TP is a successful semi-professional photographer whose work has been widely published; he specializes in photographing fires and firefighters.
The most obvious benefit to the customer is superior advice and guidance on camera selection and usage.
But there’s another, even less tangible benefit: when you go to TP’s store, you can talk photography with him, and his enthusiasm is contagious.
Being around TP, a craftsman who takes pride in all of his work – both as a photographer and store owner – gives you a sense of camaraderie with a fellow shutterbug.
It makes you eager to improve and master your craft as an amateur photographer … goals which TP can help you achieve, both with the products he sells for money as well as the advice and mentoring he dispenses for free.
I see a parallel between TP’s photo shop and the business of marketing information products, an area of interest to many of my readers.
The tangible USP you have is usually inherent in either the content of your products or the credentials of your product authors.
You can also build a tangible USP into your offer. For example, Prentice Hall (PH) was selling a book on how to create a marketing plan.
The offer was a 30-day free trial of the book: if you did not like the book, you returned it within 30 days for a refund.
The copywriter who wrote PH’s direct mail package to sell the book realized that a customer could get the book, follow the instructions, create the market plan he needed, and then return the book within 30 days for refund – in essence getting a free marketing plan.
He used this fact as the USP in the headline of his letter: “Create a Breakthrough Marketing Plan in 30 Days – Guaranteed or Your Money Back.”
But when you are an information marketer, especially on the Internet, you also have an intangible USP that becomes very important to your customers.
That intangible USP is who you are – your personality. Even though this intangible USP doesn’t translate into sales copy very well, your personality – some marketing experts call it your “personal brand” – is a major factor affecting your sales revenues.
It is an old axiom in selling that customers prefer to do business with people they know and like.
So the more you come across as someone your customers like, respect, and trust, the more they will seek your advice – and in turn, the more information products they will buy from you.
Unlike consumer brands (e.g., Pillsbury and their Dough Boy), successful personal brands are not manufactured by advertising agencies.
They are natural reflections of the information marketer – her personality, experiences, beliefs, strengths, prejudices, opinions, and attitudes.
In using your personal brand to your advantage, it is best to be true to yourself – be the person you really are – rather than to fabricate some artificial persona you think more people will like and buy from.
In matters of personal branding, heed motivational speaker Rob Gilbert’s formula: SWL + SWL = SW.
This stands for: “Some will like you and your products. Some won’t like you and your products. So what?”
Be yourself. It’s the only personal brand you can really pull off with credibility.
If you try to be someone you’re not, your customers will sense it in everything you write or say – and distance themselves from you.
Yes, your persona will attract some customers and repulse others. But SWL + SWL = SW.
The number of loyal readers and fans you attract by being yourself in your writing will be more than sufficient to earn a handsome living selling information products – reflecting your ideas, way of thinking, and opinions – to your core mailing list.
One more thing: your persona or personal brand is established primarily in your communications with your prospects and customers.
On the Internet, these communications include your e-newsletter… e-mail marketing messages … transactional e-mails …Web site … landing pages … blog … tele-seminars … customer service e-mails and phone calls … Facebook posts … YouTube videos … Tweets … and of course your information products.
So while it makes sense to develop your own style in written and spoken communications, you should always present your best, most positive self – the “you” that is most helpful, friendly, and
caring about your readers’ success.
That’s something your customers will like. A lot.
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