TITLE: 72 How to work out your product’s USP

What is your product’s USP (Unique Selling Point) and is it important to have one?

Something I see a lot, particularly on Amazon, are ‘copycat products’ – where someone is ordering the exact replica of something already selling, then branding it themselves.

It got me thinking, why would a customer buy this version of the product over one already available, that has a sales and review history? 

One answer may be price. However making this your USP is always risky, as you may end up not making a profit at all. 

The best way to make your product stand out is to decide upon and know your USP – the reason why your product is different and better. 

In this episode I dive into how to work out your product’s USP. How do you start researching this? What factors should you be considering? I share the processes I used when creating my own products, the Tiny Chipmunk range, and examples from different podcast guests. 

EPISODE NOTES

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READ THIS AS A BLOG POST

Listen in to hear:

  • An introduction to why having a USP is important (0:33)
  • Why using pricing as your USP often doesn’t work (02:00)
  • How to research and decide on a USP when you start out (4:27)
  • How I decided on my USP for Tiny Chipmunk products (9:50)
  • Examples of how some of my guests decided on their USP (11:47)
  • Why knowing your USP is so important (13:27)

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Transcript
Vicki Weinberg:

Welcome to the bring your product ideas to life podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg. Hi. So this is likely to be a fairly quick episode today as hopefully none of what I say is going to be new to you. Um, but I do think it is important and it's what I wanted to call this episode. So what I want to talk about today is your product's USP or your selling point and why having one is really important. Um, I guess what's triggered this episode is something that I've seen a lot recently, particularly on Amazon, which is what I'm going to call copycat products, where someone is seeing a product that's selling well and is ordering the exact replica of that, and then brand it themselves. And when I say the exact replica, of course, they might not be going to the same manufacturer necessarily, but essentially this is the exact same product as somebody else sells. Firstly, I'm not sayingnecessarily anything wrong with that. If you want to do that, you know, that's fine. Um, but something that I just want you to think about is when you do that, why would anyone choose to buy from you over the other seller who's selling the same product. He presumably already has sales history and review history. Um, because there must be something that's made you think, okay, this looks like a viable product. So I'm going to assume it's because that, you know, that product is already selling really well. So all I can see in terms of how you could possibly differentiate yourself is on price. Um, see, I see a lot of manufacturers doing this now. So they are selling, you know, that maybe people are buying their products and they're seeing actually people are selling our products with Amazon and they're doing really well. So the manufacturer themselves then start selling the products on Amazon. And since it's something they actually make, they can obviously offer it at a lot cheaper price than everyone else, but that probably isn't you. So making price the way you differentiate yourself, won't really work as long-term strategy because if your competitors also lower their prices to compete, you might then need to lower yours against keep up. And before you know it, you might actually not be making a product because if the other sellers let's say in selling longer than you, perhaps they will be in bigger quantities, perhaps they've negotiated slightly cheaper rates. They might be able to, you know, they might have a bit more margin. They might be able to drop their prices a bit. You could end up in a situation where actually you're not making any money, particularly if you're having to pay for advertising to get people to your listing in the first place. Um, and I don't want to sound all doom and gloom here by the way. The whole point of me sharing this example is it's something that I've seen happening. And it's a shame because by doing a little bit of work up front, you could actually look at this product that's already selling really well on Amazon, make your product better or different and still sell really well. And maybe, you know, even for the similar price, maybe even a higher price, if you can make your products better than what's already out there. And that's what I wanted to talk about, because I think that's really important. Now the only exception here on my price example is if your product is deliberately designed to be a cheaper or perhaps simpler version of something that already exists and you know, you've sourced it and you've priced it with that in mind, then that is your USP. So let's say you've seen a product and you think, well, that looks really fussy. Actually it doesn't need this component or it doesn't need to be made from this. And actually, if I do I can sell it for less money and it's, and you know, the products actually does the same thing, or perhaps you've looked at a product and you see, and you know, it's got lots of fancy packaging and you thought, well, actually, if I created that and I got rid of all this packaging, I bought something recently, actually that came in just a simple, like brown recycled envelope and it didn't need anything else. That was great. And obviously packaging adds on to the price. So your, one of your USP's could be, you know, in this example, actually, we only use minimal packaging, um, that then makes the product price cheaper. It means you can sell it cheaper. And it also means you've got something to talk about. So it's not about price. It's actually, we sell this, but we don't have all this unnecessary packaging that is your USP. So how are you going to go about creating USP for your product? How should you be doing it if it's not just about price? So the answer might be really obvious if your product is brand new and it's really unique. If it's not a hundred percent original idea and let's face it very few, are there, this is something you should be thinking about at the design stage, not at the marketing stage. So I really hope you'll listen to this. I've caught you at the right time. So I suggest doing a few things right at the outset. Two things actually. The first thing is, is finding out what your competitors already sell. So let's say your product is similar to something that's already on Amazon. I sell my first product was muslin swaddle blankets. So let's take that as an example, I looked when I was getting started out all the other muslin swaddle blankets on Amazon at the time. And what you want to be doing is looking at the product, looking at that, the exact spec, you know, how big are they, what they're made up of, what do they do? Have a look at their reviews. What are people saying about them? What's people like, what do people not like? What's the RP? How are they packaging them? How are they positioning themselves? Um, have a look at all of this, um, One of the key things for me is looking at their reviews and seeing what customers say, because that can be, that can really help you work out how to differentiate yourself. And I'll give you a real life example. So today I was looking at children's pirate hats because my child needs one for fancy dress thing. And, um, I was reading lots of reviews, one particular product on Amazon that said it came up way too big for most adults let alone for a child. So, if that was a product I was going to sell. So let's say that I was going to be selling children's pirate hats. And assuming I was seeing this feedback quite consistently on our listings, this is very hypothetical. Um, I might decide that my USP would be that my hat is actually sized correctly. For the child. And perhaps if I read a lot of reviews, talking about similar hats, being poorly made or uncomfortable to wear I fix all of these things to this, then I'd be solving a problem that my customer has. So buying fancy dress hats that their children won't wear either because they don't fit or they're uncomfortable, or they're buying poorly made items. They don't get much wear out of because you know, they just fall apart after a couple. You says, um, you know, I could, if I was going to be selling children's pirate hats, and in this hypothetical situation, if I'm reading all of this in reviews, I can make my children's pirate hair better than others on the market. And, you know, I can talk about in my product listing our society, but children are likely to have pictures of children wearing them. I could talk about the quality I could talk about, you know, why they're so comfortable. Perhaps they've got some sort of special lining or whatever it is. Um, you know, that would be my USP. And as a complete aside, if I were the seller of the first product mentioned on Amazon now, um, I would start marketing it as an adult's hat immediately because all the reviews say that it doesn't fit children. So if that's your product, I think I would start pitching it for adults. Now, the second thing I would do at the outset is talk to your customers. So you would have heard me say this before. You don't necessarily have to come out and share all the details of your product. If you don't want to particualrly in these early stages. Um, Although there is something to be said for getting them to buy in early. And I'll give you an actually a real example of this. So I follow a lady called Janet Murray and Janet is a UK based content expert. And every year she puts out a social media diary and planner, and every year, fairly early on in the year, given that, you know, these are for the next year. So they're like they run January to December, sometime in the summer, she started sharing covers that she's considering, and she asked her audience on social media to vote for their favourite. This is really, really clever because that's, this gets people invested in her products before she even has anything to sell because people vote for their favorites and then maybe their favorite makes it onto the final list of covers that goes forward. And then I believe she also, they might offer a discount to people who've voted and that sort of thing. And that's just really nice. It's getting excitement for her products before she even has something to do. But let's say that that's not your, you know, you don't want to do that. So what else can you do? Um, I've spoken before about how you can do research of your ideal customers. And as an aside, to be sure you know, who your customers are before you start doing any research and how you can do this research online and without giving away much or anything at all about your product. And I'm going to link to some episodes and blog posts that cover that in the show notes. Um, but essentially you can be asking people questions. Your products about similar products to what you have in mind, without giving much away about what you're doing at all. If that's the way you prefer to do things. So if you ask people for that input, so the sort of thing you'd be asking them is just to give you some examples before you go away to listen to the other episodes. So you might. So let's take the muslin swaddle blanket idea. I might be asking people, oh, did you ever use muslin swaddle blankets for your children? What did you look about? Like about the ones that you got, what didn't you like? Um, how could they have been better? What did you think of the price? Was it worth the money, et cetera, et cetera. Um, this would also help you come up with some ideas for your own product. Um, it really, really does all come down to be such in my opinion. So I'll give you some examples from our. And it is, I don't want to say it's as simple as that, because it's not as simple as that, but then it sort of, kind of is as well. It really comes down to knowing your competition, knowing your competition and knowing your customer. So knowing what else is out there in the market and seeing. Where and how your product fits and also knowing your customer and knowing what they need. So I'm going to give you some examples of USP. So my own products, so all of my products are designed to last. So they're really big. They're really good quality. They can be used, reuse, handed down to younger children and my swaddles specifically that's the first product I launched were also designed to be unisex. I only offer one style and, um, I would just want it to make sure that I had a product that could just be used by used and reused by lots of people. Um, my towel, when I launched that was bigger than any other towel on the market at the time. And it was also the thickest, as I say at the time, I definitely won't be now a couple of years on, but when I launched it, obviously looking at lots of people complaining that how it was really small, which was also an experience I had and that they just weren't very thick and absorbent my bamboo bowls have really minimal branding and they were really good size. So again, when I launched them, they were some of the biggest bamboo baby bowls on the market. And they can be used by older children, adults. Once you take off the silicone based, which means they last a lot longer than a baby ones, because I'd seen a lot of reviews about the visible branding on the side of a competitor's bowl, which clearly identified it as a baby product. So we only had like a limited use because adults didn't want to be put in there. I don't know, crisps or cereal of whatever in a bowl that, had I, you know, very clearly baby branding on the side, say my branding is quite discrete and at the bottom of the bowl, so you can use those bowls all the time. Anyone can use them and you know, they're not you know, they look like a baby product and actually the USP of my entire brand, which is called Tiny Chipmunk. If I haven't mentioned that before, is that I want products that are really good quality. And the last. And that came sort of from a need that I had, which was finding that baby products just weren't really lasting very long. Um, my kids were over out grabbing them or like the quality just wasn't great. And what I wanted to use them a second time. They just looked a bit tatty and worn out. So that's where they came from. So I'm going to give you some examples of USP's from other guests I've had on the podcast that might inspire. I will link to all of these episodes in the show notes as well. So Liz Ferguson came from Gus andBeau came on and she spoke about how she wanted to design modular play mats that were, also stylish. So these are these mats of sort of their foam and they fit together like a jigsaw. And it is the thing that when she was looking to buy one for her own children, that they were just all like really bright garish colors and didn't really suit her home. And so she wanted to create something. Um, yeah, just looked a lot nicer. Um, I had Vanessa from MBPH Aromatherapy on, and Vanessa talks about how she wants to create products that worked for sensitive skin, because she was struggling to find products that actually worked for her. Joe Shortt from Trip Clip was, it was really interesting. So Joe talks about how his product. He created, you know, really unique product that solve the problem. I've not been able to watch a screen while traveling, without getting a sore neck. So it's basically, um, Trip Clip is something that allows you to attach the device to the seat in front of you, effortless car at play in a bus, and then you can watch your device hands-free without having to put your head down and get a sore neck at the end of your day. And Emily from Bundle and Bean wanted to solve the issue and helps keep your child warm and dry while in a baby carrier of a buggy. She also has products for wheelchairs as well. Um, and these are just some examples. If you go back for the back catalog of this podcast, you know, there are so many examples of people who can explain really well, what makes their product unique and different? And, um, so I do encourage you to go back and listen to some of these back episodes as well. If you're looking for some inspiration. So I just want to finish on why is this even important? Well, I think there are a few reasons to have a great USP for your product. Firstly, it will help you sell. As alive will either be completely original. It will solve a problem, or it will be an improvement on other products already out there. So, but essentially you're going to have a great product. If you take the time to think about what makes your product different and unique and why people should buy it, you can also talk about the benefits in your product description. Um, as I've mentioned before, we should always be talking about benefits, not features. And it's something to talk about in your marketing and your maybe, perhaps, perhaps, even in your brands, in your way of telling your story. Um, for example, you often hear me tell the story of how I created my products. After finding out that products I took out to use with my second child, just weren't in good enough condition. And that became one of the key elements of Tiny Chipmunk products that could be used while she used again, handed down from child to child and just got loads of use out of them while was hiding in the quality. So that really helped me think about the products that I created because I have got a bit of a range. Now it helped me with the spec of those products and also gave me things to talk about and a story to tell that other people. So that was my USP. I would love to know what yours is. Please, please, please writes me, find me on Instagram and let me know. It's vicky@vickyweinberg.com. That's Vicky with an i. Um, and I will link to everything that I've spoken about in the show notes. Um, and I really hate that if you're at the beginning of your product creation journey, this just given you something to think about, um, don't worry if you're not at the beginning and you know, if you've already got the products, because I'm sure that actually you probably would have done a lot of this. Knowing, you've done a lot of this in the process of coming up with your products idea and your actual products. I am convinced that if you're listening to this, then you are interested in having a great product and your product will be different and unique. And if you're not sure what your USP is, I'm convinced you'll have one answer. Get in touch if I can help you find it out. So have a lovely rest of your day. If you've got time to leave a quick review for this podcast, I always appreciate it. And don't forget to follow so that you get all future episodes. As soon as they're available.