GUEST POST: A must read for young enterpreneurs: WHAT’S YOUR SELLING POINT? How to identify what makes you or your business stand out.

When I first heard the song ‘Goody Bag’ by D’prince I was totally blown away by it. For starters, I’m a diehard fan of Don Jazzy. Honestly I admire him for his humility, hard work, creativity and zeal for excellence. For more than a decade now almost every song he has produced literally turned into gold and Goody bag was no exception. I have reason to believe that like Timbaland and Will-I-Am, Don Jazzy too was probably created on the day God made sound and music.

Apart from the powerful beat by the MAVIN Boss, the rhythm of Goody bag could have you humming the song all day. And maybe even all night.

Many people weren’t so conversant with the phrase ‘selling point‘ till Charles Ezenwa Enebeli popularly known as D’prince turned it into a ‘national anthem’. And like other words such as ‘Banana’ (Take Banana) and ‘Jonzing’ (Jonzing world), D’prince definitely has a knack for coming up with catch phrases/words that soon become popular slangs. The video of Goody bag summed it up for me because I really can’t think of a more brilliant and creative way to drive home the question: ‘what’s your selling point?’

Now what really is the selling point?

The selling point is a feature of something such as a product or an idea that makes people more likely to want to buy or support it, a distinctive feature that stands it out from a crowd.

Knowing your selling point is very important but acting on it is even more important. Believe it or not there’s nothing that has never been thought of or done in some form before. But there are numerous ways of doing things differently, such that the refurbished idea almost looks brand new, as if it was only just invented. That’s how the selling point works. Take our very own multi talented instrumentalist, band leader and political maverick; Fela  Anikulapo Kuti. He combined elements from existing genres such as traditional Yoruba music, highlife and English Jazz, fused it with percussions, scats and vocal styles, inventing one of the world’s most celebrated music genres- The Afro Beat. He discovered what worked for him and acted on it thereby creating a niche for himself—he discovered his salable point.

In the mood of my birthday today, I’ll be sharing practical steps on how to discover what makes you desirable and how to use those things that stand you out to make a name for yourself or your business.

Whenever I’m branding a product, the first thing I do is walk the client through a series of steps that helps them to identify their selling points. This is very important because knowledge of the selling point determines the success or failure of your brand. The irony is that there are more brands and products out there that can’t pinpoint their selling point. Most organizations think they have it worked out. For all such, it is like building the right structure on the wrong foundation. This is a major problem I’ve discovered with many failing/struggling brands I’ve consulted for. In branding them, we have had to go back to the basics of identifying what stood them out from their competitors and starting from there.

Over the years, I have developed a process for identifying those unique things that are peculiar to each and every brand. I call it the WWW Rule. The rule is broken down into 3 steps namely: WHO, WHY and WHAT. These steps are sequential and must be taken in this order, one after the other, to get the right result. So let’s analyze this rule step by step.

STEP 1: WHO

“How many of you would buy a soap that claims to be good for the skin and for washing toilets effectively?”

This is the first and perhaps the most important step of the WWW rule. If you get this step wrong, all other steps will fail. If you approach this step last, like most people do, you will end up defining yourself or your business based only on your perception of it. Always bear in mind that the success of any product is largely dependent on how the public perceives it. Except you are producing for yourself and family alone.

In this step, ‘WHO’ refers to your key market or target audience.  Your target audience is the specific group of people that your brand is aimed at. Knowing your target market determines where and how to make good use of your peculiar traits. Channeling your best towards the wrong audience is as good as pouring water into a basket.

Let’s take a look at the magazine, ‘True Love’; it is believed to be aimed at the black woman. The slogan on the magazine reads: ‘All A Woman Needs’. Therefore the content is tailored to present itself as the answer to all feminine needs: advice, entertainment, or any other topic supposedly imaginable by the African female audience.

While it is good to pinpoint your target audience, it is also very important to narrow it down to the smallest possible group. I know a number of brands that failed simply because they were not specific about whom their target audience was. In the scenario of the ‘True Love’ magazine, you would notice that the group, ‘Black Woman’ is a bit vague. There could be different categories of black women; single, married, pregnant and so on. So, generalizing can be detrimental; you become like a jack of all trade and a master of none.

Did ‘True Love’ get it wrong in identifying a target audience?

Absolutely not!

What many brands do that people don’t know is that they usually don’t come out in the open to say who their target market/audience is. They prefer to identify with a general group in order not to appear too streamlined. But the truth is, they have a target group that they use as the basis to structure the content of products or services.

So who really is the target audience of ‘True love’ magazine?

To answer the question let’s take a closer look at how the content of the magazine is structured. You’ll notice that the topic of the magazine revolves around the self-improvement of the black woman. From this analysis we can say that their target audience is most likely the career woman.

The brands I have worked with are always surprised when we end up identifying their target market.  Most times they never imagined narrowing it down to such a small group. What is even more difficult for me is trying to convince them that this was the group they had to identify with and build their content around all along. Some of them don’t believe that they have to go with a target group at all. They prefer to stick to a more general audience because they believe that more people means more customers, but this is not entirely true.

There was a time I consulted for an NGO that was into the empowerment of teenagers. In trying to brand them, I told them we needed to identify their target audience. For them, they were convinced it was the teenagers. But I explained to them that the group, ‘teenagers’, was not a target audience but simply a general one. There are different kinds of teenagers out there: delinquent, sick, oppressed, molested etc. How one category would respond is totally different from how another would. So creating a programme to suit all teenagers would mean they might never be able to really reach out to any particular teenager at all. This is the reason specialist hospitals have the upper hand when treating major cases, because sickness in itself is very general. In reality, a person suffering from a disease of the eye is different from another with a bone complication. And the same applies with target audiences.

Identifying your target audience doesn’t mean that you won’t reach out to other groups/audiences. This is usually the fear most people face. But how many of you would buy a soap that claims to be good for the skin and for washing toilets effectively? Not me for sure. That is why narrowing your target audience is important. It helps you package your brand so it doesn’t come out as tacky.

The interesting thing to note is that when you get your target audience right and structure your content accordingly you’ll even find people outside your target audience willing to patronize you. It is not uncommon to see guys buying ‘True Love’ magazines at newsstands. The excuse is that they are either buying it for their sister or spouse.

Before I started writing this article the first thing I did was to identify my target audience. This helped me in conducting my research, structuring the content and designing a suitable cover picture to suit young and aspiring entrepreneurs/celebrities who want to improve the image of themselves or business.

Take note that there is a difference between a general audience and a target audience. While you might decide to identify with the general audience in your business plan or company’s statement, know that the question of ‘WHO’ refers only to your target audience. This is what most successful companies do that they won’t tell you. Also try as much as possible not to choose more than one target audience.

Take a moment now and reflect thoroughly on this step.  A good way to start is by identifying the general audience you intend to reach, take note of it, then continue breaking it down to the smallest possible unit; a more specific audience. You can even ask someone to be sure. When you are convinced that you have gotten this step right, then you are ready to move on to the next step.

STEP 2: WHY?

“Virgin Atlantic… has recorded tremendous success and popularity over the years, yet, it isn’t the biggest airline in the world.”

In identifying your selling point, you’ll need to know the reason(s) WHY you want to reach out to your target audience. Any cause without a reason is baseless. How you are going to reach out to your target audience in order to attract them to your brand is totally dependent on the WHY. Note that for every WHY there is the question of ‘how’.

A good brand is defined by a set of concise aims and objectives. In the WWW rule of identifying your selling point, ‘WHY’ refers to your aims while ‘how’ refers to your objectives. While many people think that aims and objectives are the same thing, this rule helps you to distinguish them. Aims are what you want to achieve, while, objectives are what you need to do to achieve your aims.

Virgin Atlantic is a brand that has stood out over the years. The company has recorded tremendous success and popularity yet it isn’t the biggest airline in the world.

So how do they do it?

Richard Branson, the founder and chairman of the Virgin Group, was able to identify his target audience as people who are as adventurous and eccentric like himself. The reason ‘why’ his aim was to reach out to this target group was based on his conviction that the big airlines at the time weren’t in touch with customers’ needs. Sir Branson’s objective to achieve his aim was to offer a more affordable and enjoyable flying experience. So Virgin Atlantic set out to make the experience of their target audience fun and ultra-cool. They put a bar onboard, passengers can get a massage or a nail clean up and food and drink are always top quality—This is their selling point, it is what stands them out from all the other airlines. Most people report that the airline, Virgin Atlantic, “really makes you feel special.”

Unlike the 1st step, you can have several ‘WHYs’ (aims and objectives) as long as they are realistic and doable. Just bear it in mind that an aim demonstrates your contribution while the objectives shows your distinction. It outlines why and how you need to perform to be unique and successful.

If you want to improve on how the world recognizes you or your brand, following the steps outlined in this article is probably the best way to start.

To know more, read the concluding part of this article here YIMU CENTRAL-whats your selling point part 2 and find out what it takes to completes the process of identifying your unique quality. Before then, I strongly recommend that you go over the steps again and try to practice them on your own.

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ZIMYLINK is a Brand Consulting firm that harnesses, influences and improves the image and value of brands. We have formulated recipes that have succeeded for all the people we have worked with. Some of our clients include The Federal Government of Nigeria, University of Benin, House 5 Production, YimuCentral, CSI+ (A South African Company) and many other independent brands and celebrities. But we are more passionate about working with small businesses/startups because we believe it is more exciting to take them from ‘nowhere’ to ‘top 10’; that’s our selling point!

For professional advice, training and inquiries feel free to contact us at info@zimylink.com and watch us bring your “ideas to life”.

About the author

Anderson Oriahi

I am an entrepreneur and brand Consultant. I believe in my country Nigeria and what she stands for and I dedicate my life to building models that would revolutionize her. Follow me on twitter @zimylink or on facebook and join me in this movement

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I’m sure you have learnt a lot from this article. More guest post coming your way.

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