The best businesses are often based on the simplest ideas. They do not have to be overly complicated or first to market to become market leaders:
- Google wasn’t the first search engine
- Amazon didn’t initially stock the widest range of products
- eBay was a simple trading platform designed as a hobby to the be the ‘perfect market’
All of these share a common theme. They are founded on a simple idea, which is unique and can be described to a child in a sentence or two. In the business world, this is known as the unique selling proposition and the elevator pitch.
What is your unique selling proposition?
Before you start your business, it is vital that you understand what makes your idea different from every business out there. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you come up with a completely new idea. Some businesses just do things ever so slightly better than others. It is often a small take on an existing, established model that can make all the difference.
Google is the perfect example of a business that is only slightly better than its competitors. When first released, it was amongst other search engines such as Yahoo and Ask Jeeves. The difference was that Google had a unique interface, which was extremely simple to use, and it returned relevant results far quicker than any other interface.
The net result of this for Google was that they clearly positioned themselves as the dominant search engine, and in turn built a massive business the has significant influence over the internet, and indeed mobile telephone and tablets now. In fact, Google is often used as a verb instead of ‘search’ when people refer to finding something online…and, like Hoover, this is always a very good sign of strong brand!
Establishing a unique selling proposition can sometimes take a lot of creativity and thought. For existing small businesses, it’s not unheard of for the business owner to not actually know what makes them different from everyone else! To market your business effectively, and to communicate the value of your business and / or products to your customers, you do however need to be able to describe your unique selling proposition in a brief but clear manner, which is sometimes known as your elevator pitch.
Think about what makes your business different? And also what different benefits you offer to your customer? Can you do it faster, cheaper, more conveniently? Can you utilise customer-facing technology in a new way? What benefits will this give your end customer? Of course, you need to make sure that the benefit is actually a genuine benefit compared to what is out there at the moment, also the it is something customers would value.
What is your elevator pitch?
Once you have a clear idea of what your business is and how it is different, you then need to work out exactly how to communicate this to others. This is an essential skill at all stages of the business journey - from speaking to the bank manager for funding and persuading your partner, through the day-to-day running, and eventually when speaking to potential buyers of your business; you will need to be able to sum up exactly what you do and how you do it in a clear and concise manner.
An elevator pitch is a brief statement which sums up your business in an easily understandable format. Although the concept of an elevator pitch is simple, creating one is very difficult! To create a memorable pitch with impact, it is important that you focus on the benefits that your business can bring to its customers, whilst remaining clear about exactly what you do.
Whilst it may appear obvious, it is surprising how many businesses neglect their opportunity to make a great first impression at networking events with a strong elevator pitch.
Identify the one key benefit that your customer can immediately relate to, and then think about how to describe it succinctly so that it has maximum impact. Perhaps relate it to either where they want to be (think time, family, money) or where they want to move away from (pain, hassle, debt).
Once you’ve defined exactly what your business is and created an elevator pitch for it, you will be able to evaluate your business idea completely, and ensure that the business is actually viable before pressing ahead with it. You are probably aware that setting up a new business is risky, but what’s life without taking a few risks!!