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Using Your USP To Promote and Market Your eCommerce Site

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Your company's unique selling position (USP) is the propellant to launch a host of revenue-earning eCommerce activities. Frank Fiore explains how a well-defined USP can help you to select, promote, and market just the right customers.
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A Blooming Buzzing Confusion

Here's a quick quiz for eCommerce managers. Which one of these promotional and marketing vehicles is best to market an eCommerce storefront?

  • Search engine submittal
  • Search engine optimization
  • Search engine marketing
  • Keyword purchase
  • Newsgroup postings
  • Community building
  • Newsletter and eZine ads
  • Rich media
  • Electronic newsletters
  • Opt-in lists
  • Email marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Strategic partnerships
  • Link exchanges
  • Banner exchanges
  • Web site
  • All of the above—and then some!

The answer, of course, is all of the above. But look at that list! How can you make sense out of the different vehicles and when and how do you apply them to a comprehensive and effective marketing plan for your online storefront?

First, we need some kind of organizing concept that can be used to corral this blooming buzzing confusion of marketing vehicles. But to use this organizing concept properly, we need something else: the creation and use of a unique selling position (USP). A USP defines what makes a business different from every other competitor. It spells out the precise niche you seek to fill and how you aim to fill it.

The problem is that too many companies pay too little attention to the USP and wind up with one that's too fuzzy to succeed. For example, here are some common USPs and how they should be clarified.

Fuzzy USP

Clarifying Question(s)

"Our product is better than our competitors' product."

Why? In what ways?

"Our product is less expensive than our competitors' product."

Why? How can it be less expensive?

"Our company cares for its customers."

How?

"We ship quickly."

How quickly? By when?

"We give our customers a sense of well-being."

How? In what ways?

"We make the consumer more productive."

How?

"We make our customers feel special."

How?

You get the idea. It's not enough to make a statement that you feel differentiates your company from the competition; you must also tell the customer why, when, and how you do it. In addition, your USP should offer a distinct reason to buy from your company, and a compelling image of what your business will do for the customer that other businesses can't.

Remember: The USP is not about you or your business—it's about your customer.

Sure, in some cases there may actually be little or no difference between your product or service and that of the competition. Or the difference may be too difficult to communicate. Think of the difference between Coke and Pepsi, as an example. In these cases, you have to become very creative.

The bottom line is this: Without a well-defined and differentiated USP, you can't begin to market your business. But once you have that USP, you can start to make sense of the marketing vehicles available to you, organize those elements, and implement your marketing plan. This is done through "the power of P.A.R.M.":

  • Positioning your company in the digital marketplace
  • Acquiring site traffic and customers
  • Retaining those customers
  • Monetizing your site traffic and customers
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