Content Boot Camp: Your Company Is Great So What?
What has two thumbs and thinks your company is as great as you do? Not this person. Why? Because even though you’ve told me how awesome your company is, I just don’t see it. In fact, that other company, your competitor, had me at “Hello.”
Put Your Competition in a Sleeper Hold
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How does someone choose Company/Product/Service A over Company/Product/Service B when they’re both very similar? It starts with discovering your unique selling proposition (USP) and clearly communicating it.
Let’s say you own a cookware company and your website raves about just how much your pots and pans rule. (P.S. Not writing “Web site” just now per updated AP guidelines: very hard.) Page after page, through thousands of words of copy, your site talks about how great the cookware is without ever actually illustrating why it’s so great.
The solution is to ask yourself why your cookware is superior and what about the cookware solves problems for your consumers. What are the main reasons people would want to choose your pots over some other company’s pots? Don’t know the USP? Try the following exercise.
First, list all the features of the product, service or organization you’re writing about. Let’s take the cookware example. One feature for a line of pots could be a detachable handle. Saying you sell cooking pots with “sweet detachable handles” still doesn’t make the problem-solving connection obvious enough to your audience (always assume the reader doesn’t make the connection, so your writing will make the point concisely).
This is where the benefits of the feature come into play. So you have a detachable handle, so what? And, “So what?” is exactly what you need to ask yourself for every single feature until you drill down into all the potential benefits.
In this case, the “so what” is that detachable handles benefit people with less kitchen storage because it takes up less space, or maybe busy moms could cook more entrées on their stovetop because it makes the cookware more compact. Voilà! A problem is solved.
Another way to discover and communicate the competitive advantage of the product, service or company you’re writing about is to study other companies in the same space. Figure out which competitors pose the greatest threat and list their strengths and weaknesses. This can help flesh out where your brand is different and even better than the competition.
Pump Up Your Interview Questionnaire
If you missed last week’s Content Boot Camp, I discussed “Performing for Your Audience,” and defining the questions that need to be asked in order to ID your target audience. The following are some questions you can add to your “standard” questionnaire to help define your USP. (Interview questionnaires are discussed in “Tackle SEO Web Content Writing with Ease” featured in April’s SEO Newsletter.)
• List all the features of the product, service or company. For each feature, list at least one benefit.
• Of these features and benefits, which distinguish you from the competition?
• How does your product, service or company solve a problem for your target audience(s)?
• List all your competitors. Who are your brick-and-mortar competitors and why are they considered competition (e.g., Is it brand recognition, location or market share)? Who are your online competitors? The latter question warrants some online analytics.
• List the strengths and weaknesses for each competitor. Also list what you like and don’t like about each.
• Why should your target audience choose you over your competition?
• Why wouldn’t they choose you over your competition? This question often reveals some great info you can use to your advantage for messaging purposes.
For next week’s Content Boot Camp, I’ll drop and give you one … one key point to remember when crafting Web copy, that is: Messaging.
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