“I love your blog, Drew. It’s helped!”
“Thanks! What’s the business?”
“Well, we find drop-ship products to sell on Amazon.”
“Yeah? What products?”
“Well it changes, like, every couple weeks.”
I see this all the time. When I ask for a show of hands at ecommerce conferences, I get this break-down:
(The remaining 20%? Dudes who walked into the wrong auditorium.)
In this case, this guy represented the first two categories.
The first three categories might be making some quick cash now, but they are in for an uphill battle. No differentiation, no barriers to entry, no brand, no business.
And the goal here is to create a cash-flow lifestyle business, right?
“Wait, Drew — you said in a previous post that brand doesn’t matter.”
Well, it does matter, but not in the way most first-time entrepreneurs think. Most first-time entrepreneurs think brand means business cards.
And getting all one’s creative sync’d up.
That window-dressing doesn’t matter. What’s more important? Being able to drive a visitor to your site to buy.
But once you drive a visitor to your site, what’s your message to her? How do you make it a complete no-brainer that she buys?
You start with brand positioning. It’s how your business differs from the zillions of other shmucks sitting out there in the T&C auditorium. And it’s how you can make that differentiation crystal clear to potential customers.
Without good positioning, you are nothing. Potential buyers will lump you in with every other company in your category.
And then these same potential buyers will make their decisions based on the lowest price . . . which is not where you want to be unless you are Walmart.
No, you want to be so fricking well-positioned that it’s a complete no-brainer for your target customers to pick you.
Your conversion rates will increase across the board. Your acquisition costs will plummet. All other marketing will become easier as you leave your competitors in the dust.
It’s a good place to be. But how do you get there?
Many positioning frameworks exist. I like one from McKinsey consultant (and Stanford guy!) Victor Cheng.
Cheng says that the best positioning makes a Unique Compelling Credible Promise to a potential buyer. Make your brand promise those three things, and you are golden.
Let me explain as it might apply to a direct-to-consumer brand or SAAS company:
No “me-too’s” here. The first step in winning a customer is being unique in a field of sameness. To achieve uniqueness, riff on the Who / What / Where / Why / When / How of your offering:
If you’ve been following along with this lifestyle series, you are starting to collect some serious customer feedback.
Now is the time to use it.
Whatever you are promising has to solve a customer problem in an
overwhelmingly compelling way.
Are you going to help me learn to eat healthy (weak!)? Or are you going to help me lose 10 pounds so I look hot in my speedo for the beach wedding that I’m going to in a month?
(Dramatic pause…I’ll wait until you get that disgusting image out of your head…ready? Good.)
Review your customer feedback. What are the searing problems? Do customers just want to learn to be healthier? Or are they disgusted by how they feel when they look in the mirror and have anxiety about an upcoming big event where they need to look great?
Make your promise compelling. Address the searing problem head-on. Use the language your customers use. Mirror your solution back at them.
Take this approach in all your sales copy, your ads, and your site.
A unique and compelling offer means nothing if your potential customer doesn’t believe you.
It is asking a lot for a brand-spanking new visitor to take out her credit card and buy from you on the first visit to your site. This lack-of-trust is a big reason why conversion rates are so low!
You have to build credibility around your brand, fast. Here are some best-practice ways to do this:
At the end of the day, the value of a brand is that customers trust it. So the first step in earning that trust is making your positioning credible.
Do you want to make life easy on yourself? Nail your brand positioning.
Get off the Amazon / drop-shipping / t-shirt arbitrage treadmill and start thinking about how to make your offering a no-brainer to potential customers.
I love Cheng’s three-step approach, but there are others out there. Pick one and do the thinking involved to carve out your own positioning. Every other aspect of running your business will become easier.
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