Unique Selling Point – Blessed Are The Cheesemakers

A strong unique selling point helps your business to rise above your competitors

Businesses with a strong USP can rise above the crowd to grow faster and more profitably

Differentiating your business from your competitors, so that customers will choose to buy your products and services instead of your competitors, is the job of your Unique Selling Point – sometimes called your Unique Selling Proposition.

The trouble is, it’s easy for you to get stuck on the idea that “there’s nothing I can do that’s different to my competitors”.  So in this blog post, you’ll discover how a true commodity business – the dairy industry – has lots of differentiation.

The idea here isn’t to turn you into a cheesemaker (even though “blessed are the cheesemakers!” according to Monty Python),  but to inspire you to stand out from the crowd in your line of business.

The Key To Your Unique Selling Point

The secret to a great USP is to consider things from your customer’s point of view.  The rest of this article contains many examples of how the diary industry has done exactly that.  And if they can do, so can you.

There can be few more challenging businesses to be in than milk production.  The supermarkets have you by the throat and buy from you at pretty much cost price.  You only make something because of the huge volumes you sell.  What to do?

Well, some diaries came up with the idea of flavoured milks and shakes many years ago.  But far more interesting is the brilliant mainstream milk company Cravendale.  They’ve innovated to make a better milk, rather than going after a tiny niche.

So now you can drink normal milk, or Cravendale’s pure filtered milk that lasts longer.  What a brilliant unique selling point for such an ordinary product!

I don’t know about you, but if I can get “pure”, that suggests that what I was drinking before wasn’t pure.  Seeps into my brain after enough repetition and gradually starts to become the normal milk you buy.

The real crunch though, is that your price is no longer directly compared to ordinary milk, the commodity stuff.  You’ve carved out a whole new niche within the vast milk market of pure milk.

In the Cravendale ad they make the point about their differentiation – on the fridge door they tell you it’s filtered so it lasts longer.  And they’re all fighting for the last glass.  How many times do we throw away the last glass of milk because it’s going off?

Clever, witty, engaging.  Perhaps a little irritating.  But they’re selling a lot of filtered milk now, to an audience that had never seen it just a couple or so years ago.

You Can Even Differentiate Butter!

Now take a look across the rest of the dairy industry and you’ll find lots of similar examples.  Anchor Butter have differentiated themselves by claiming the free-range credentials.

Who ever heard of free range cows?

I haven’t – never thought of cows being anything but free range, wandering in the fields eating grass.  But Anchor have brilliantly captured the eco-mood and transferred the free-range idea from chickens…

Interestingly, a search on Google for other butter advertising shows that Country Life gave a money-back guarantee that their butter tastes best a few years ago.

Can’t find a video on it, but apparently they printed 5 million packs with the offer on it.  The idea being that you’ll try the butter out because if you don’t like it, you can get your money back.

What’s the chance of you not liking a quality pat of butter?  Pretty low risk strategy, it seems to me.

Blessed Are The Cheesemakers – For They Have A USP…

Going back to the blessed cheesemakers, how do you make an ordinary cheese into something special?

Packaging does it very nicely for Mini Babybel, who put a twist in their adverts by showing tiny cheesemakers putting it together…

As you start to get into the differentiation groove, you’ll find lots of interesting options – Cheestrings are the modern replacement for Dairylee cheese triangles, it seems to me, becoming one of the defacto kids’ choices for their lunchbox.

You may be wondering just how you can use these cheesy examples in your own business…

Bottom line is you’ve got to come up with some great ways to differentiate your business, products or services from your competitors.  So many people in small business tell me they can’t.  You can, once you decide to give it the attention it deserves.

There are a host of ways you can be different in business – including changing your…

  • Product (filtering the milk)
  • Packaging (little wax jackets on your cheese)
  • Positioning (“The Free-Range Butter Company”)
  • Guarantees (Best tasting butter or your money back)
  • Service (the good ol’ milkman)

If you’d like more inspiration on ways to differentiate your products and services, I can highly recommend both Purple Cow by Seth Godin and Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles.  Both are available from Amazon for around £5 each and are inspirational.

Differentiation (building an effective unique selling point) is one of 5 parts of my Double Your Business Marketing Plan for your business.

2 Comments

  1. Paul Simister on August 10th, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Interesting Lee. I like the example of differentiating milk and cheese.

    One of my all time favourite businesses I ever did any work with was Birmingham Dairies about 25 years ago. I was sent in to do a profitability study and found it fascinating as they went to market through so many different channels. Because skimmed milk was so popular, they started a small chain of bakery shops to use up the excess cream in their cakes.

    I believe all businesses have some ability to differentiate themselves. Sometimes it happens by accident. I go to my newsagents because it is the nearest and fits in with walking my dog. I used to buy petrol from one service station because they had a very pretty woman as cashier.

    Other times differentiation happens deliberately but that means you have to make some tough decisions about what you will do and what you won’t.

    Classic examples of USPs are Dominos Pizza and Fedex and both use the strong appeal of guaranteed fast delivery. It’s easy to promise but harder to do and that’s why your Unique Selling Point has to move from a marketing promise to a business promise backed up by the right systems and processes.



  2. Lee on August 10th, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Paul,

    That dairy sounds interesting – never thought about what they do with surplus cream when they’re making skimmed milk. Reminded me of the wood mill that sells waste chippings and sawdust to pet shops for use in rodent cages.

    The speedy delivery angle worked so well for Fedex and Dominos because it was a key issue for customers. Having said that, Dominos dropped it in ’92 because of accidents and running red lights. Apparently their delivery drivers got too competitive against the clock as a matter of pride. They still deliver very fast though – those systems they developed for mean they can fly food out of the door.

    I always like to focus the USP at something that’s very important in the buying cycle to the customer. If you can definitely do something that your competitors can’t, and it matters to your customers, you get a real edge for your unique selling point.



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