I subscribe to a very expensive data service. This is the type of service the national chains use to determine where they are going to build. I use it for small business. I also use it completely backwards.
Take a store like Starbucks. They know their USP: Their Unique Selling proposition. They understand that they offer a tightly managed daily experience to people who are; generally orderly and seeking consistency, actively employed and in a hurry, have a need to express their membership in a group. Many brewed coffee retailers could also claim this, but Starbucks only wants these people.
Starbucks uses products like ESRI to find locations between where these people live and where they work. They know their unique offering to the market.
Every try to lounge in most Starbucks? It’s not really as comfortable as most local coffee places. It’s also not hugely friendly for kids either. This means they are not very concerned about people serving as parents or with lots of free time as their core customer.
What is your core market? You may have never thought of this before. Looking for more customers? Pick a market. Do something completely unique for a population near you. Change the experience, or the products that do a good job of connecting with your neighborhood, or the people who drive past your business. With a little promotion, you will start growing, if you are truly unique.
This is where market research comes into play when I work with a small business owner. Chances are if you have an existing business you already have your location. Using the research I can tell you what types of people leave nearby, how much they have to spend and even things like how much they will spend on Budweiser or Disneyland.
By knowing this, you can begin to understand how you could become more appealing to a group of people. This is what the USP is all about. Do you have a USP?
The popularity of the term “unique selling proposition” has caused it to lose a large part of its definition. Today’s modern meaning, it seems, is more akin to “selling proposition.” We have seemingly lost sight of the most vital word.
Unique. Unique. Unique. What are you willing or capable of doing that others in your category won’t or can’t?
To most business owners, this is a question they love to answer until they fully understand what we mean. Things such as dedication to good service or quality are certainly admirable, but they are not unique among competent businesses.
Selection, variety, speed of service, or price, in lieu of anything else, can be a USP, but each of these qualities or claims must be substantiated with particulars. If you deem one of these to be your USP, you need to be ready with detailed examples as proof. Nothing is as ineffective as unsubstantiated claims.
No company is as forgettable as the one similar to all the others. To communicate a different and better way of doing business is your fundamental goal.
What makes you Unique?
What I am about to tell you might be painful
The flu season is coming, and many of us will go down to our doctor and pay to have someone stick a needle in our arm. Why do we do this? We call it protection and prevention, but it’s more than that. America has come to predict and rely on the results of that flu shot. We know that a little pain today will prevent being sick in January. It’s a proactive approach to our health.
Why is this important? Because the Bowling Industry has the flu. By some estimates in 5 years there will be 700 less bowling centers in the US than today. This, while new bowling center construction is healthy. League revenue is down and expected to decline rapidly. Soon, there will be only one “League Center” in each city. This is your flu, and many centers are already sick or dying. Does your center already have the sniffles? What’s that ounce of protection and prevention for your center? Converting to a Bowling Entertainment Center (a BEC).
First to the pain, if you take no action toward making your center friendlier to families, your revenue will decline, your access to the renovation funding will diminish, and eventually you will start operating at a loss. People simply aren’t bowling in leagues anymore, it’s no longer a habit they have an interest in developing.
But, the gain? If you invest in making your center more approachable to families, and you take that shot of reinvestment, most centers can expect to double revenue in less than two years. Why? Because not only do your league clients keep coming, you add an entirely new customer base who is willing to bowl on the weekends, and all summer. These families spend more, and if treated right, they will bring friends.
Does this sound exciting to you? No? Then consider calling my friend Sandy Hansell and get your bowling center listed for sale today. It’s only going to get worse if you don’t take the steps toward finding different people to bowl at your center.
What is standing in your way? I bet it’s the unknown, the risk, and the change. But even if you’re not ready to tear out lanes and order video games, at least, it’s time to look at your future harder than you are looking at your past.
Peter Starkel is a partner at Brand Champion. Call him a merchant of change, an advocate for your customers with a bowling average of 64. He lives in Traverse City Michigan, with clients nationwide.