You’ve likely heard of the need for a “unique selling proposition” (USP) in order to be successful in business. In essence, a USP is something that you offer customers or clients that your competitors do not.
Another way to think of your USP is as a “remarkable benefit.”
In direct response copywriting, the USP runs throughout the sales letter. It’s the unique promise that is
- contained in the headline;
- elaborated on in the body copy; and
- ultimately fulfilled by your offer.
Of course, this time-tested approach to an integrated sales letter is facing challenges. Top copywriters have noticed that the most important element – the headline – sometimes fails to prompt people to read the body copy when the time-tested “unique benefit” approach is taken.
Why? Because most benefit-driven headlines sound exactly like what they are – a sales pitch.
That’s why we’re blogging, right? To establish a relationship with readers and prospects that doesn’t rely on an all-or-nothing, one-off attempt to make a sale. You get to tell your story in small, manageable pieces, or even experiment with different ways of telling the same story, until one clearly resonates with your audience.
Blogging allows you to turn a unique “selling” proposition into a unique “story” proposition. A story that will not only sell, but provide room for your customers and clients to run with the story and grow your business for you.
If you fail to develop that remarkable benefit, your blog itself will suffer, not to mention your business. Developing a USP is more important than ever, and writing a “practice” sales letter that develops a unique theme for your business and your blog can help you nail it.
The fact is, a great sales letter can be a blueprint for small business success. It’s been established over and over again in direct marketing that a great product mixed with a great sales letter is a business in and of itself.
It’s good advice for any entrepreneur to sit down and write a business plan, even if you have no intention of seeking investment funds. The process of writing the plan forces you to not only carefully examine your assumptions, but to think about issues that you might not otherwise contemplate until they became a problem.
Rather than write a stuffy business plan, let’s do something fun. Why not sit down and write a sales letter that effectively sells your product or service?
You don’t have to ever show this letter to anyone. It’s simply an exercise that will help you focus in on exactly why you are in business and what you have to offer. It will also tell you exactly how best to blog in support of your business.
Start out by asking yourself a question. What is it that you offer customers or clients that your competitors do not?
If you can’t see it immediately, don’t give up. Often there’s something there that you take for granted, but others would find quite remarkable. If you are a service provider, you can always simply create something unique as part of your offering.
Now, is what you came up with newsworthy? Is it so remarkable that you could you get free publicity because of it, say from your local newspaper?
What kind of headline would the newspaper article carry when writing about you?
From there, what kind of short anecdote could you tell about the unique benefit in that headline? Did one of your customers or clients enjoy exceptional results due to it?
Tell us about it.
Now, tell us also about all the related benefits that come with doing business with you. Elaborate on those benefits by pointing out the specific features of your product or service that provide those benefits.
Next, present your offer, which should tie in neatly with the promise made in the headline. What are you going to do for this person that is exciting enough to get them to take action?
Speaking of action, make sure you spell out exactly what you want people to do.
Do you want them to call you? Order online? Download a free report?
Read your letter. Would you buy from you, knowing what you know about best practices in your industry?
If not, start over.
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Reader Comments (12)
Excellent advice, Brian. Several wiser people than me once told me that if you cannot sit down and write out even a rough 5-year business plan, your business probably will not succeed. That’s mainly because you have not set in your mind any real goals to work towards.
But writing a business plan isn’t always an exciting prospect. In fact, some people find it downright frightening. Your exercise, however, makes it a lot more palatable.
Sounds Good, i dont think if anything is possible without planning.
Brian can you tell me how can i get RSS for my personal website.
Tammy Vitale says
Great suggestions. I’m an artist currently working with the Small Business Development Corp on a marketing plan. Since I have a Business undergrad, I’ve known I should write it down. As an artist I know it doesn’t have to be lockstep with the models (always leave room for magic). Anyway, I had promised to post the Marketing Plan the SBDC shared at my blog and did so today. I also shared this posting, filed it to keep online and printed it out to remind myself where it is that *I* want to go and that the plan is really just an outline. You hit all 3 of my “gee, this is great stuff and I should keep it” files. Keep it up!
Tammy Vitale, http://www.TamsOriginals.com
Patsi Krakoff says
I agree with Tammy. This post is a keeper. I already started writing an informal advertorial for possible use on my newsletter services home page based on my blog writing style, as an experiment. I figured if i could just sit down and tell my story to a “friend” that it would sound more authentic and have greater impact. I have my sales letter list of key elements next to it, but I’m experimenting with making it more like a conversation over coffee with a friend about what i do. Don’t know if this makes sense, and i’m not finished yet, but you can sure see how your post resonates with me! Keep up the great writing, Brian. There aren’t very many people writing about the bridges between direct sales writing, online copy, and blogging, as far as I can find.
Mike Sansone says
Great exercise idea.
There are some venture pros who prefer a two-page biz plan prior to a fully crafted plan. The sales letter idea could end up being something you DO share with others.
Either way, it definitely fine tunes your thinking.
I just started reading, and ther’s definatly alot of gems here..i’ve already linked this blog to my own website..for my own convinence..and for the benifit of my team of bloggers!
Keep it up!
story is a great tool, it makes reader wanna complete reading the whole thing.
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