So ... last week I put together a worksheet for a post on clarifying your business’s unique value proposition and it included this cool little diagram to help identify your business’s “points of value”. I have not been able to stop thinking about that freaking diagram all week!!! I even drew it up on the whiteboard during a meeting at work to help my team work through a discussion we were having...it was a total game-changer, and helped us immediately hone in on where we should focus our time. I wanted to put together a post to share this because I think it is such an awesome tool that is SO easy to use and (I think) massively helpful.
Want to grab my worksheet that guides you through identifying your unique points of value?
There are honestly so many different ways you can use this tool...it’s a framework I can see coming back to again and again as you launch and grow your small business. I have already used this two times in the past five days for totally unrelated projects, ha! It’s seriously awesome. This diagram is a perfect framework for:
- Conducting competitive research when you’re building a business plan
- Creating copy for your social media posts
- Figuring out what you should put on your website
- Drafting helpful + high-converting emails to customers
- Coming up with ideas for new products and service offerings
- Deciding where to focus your time and energy when you feel totally all over the place
- Explaining what you do to potential lenders/investors, people you want to partner or work with, and even customers
Before I dive in and explain why I think this is so cool + awesome + valuable + game-changing, here is the diagram from the worksheet so you can visualize this for yourself:
I’m calling each of those areas where the circles overlap a “quadrant”. Each quadrant is filled with "points of value" ... areas you or your competitors could provide value to potential customers by fulfilling a desire, or addressing some need or pain point they have with a product or service. You will use your unique points of value to differentiate yourself from your competition. This diagram helps you narrow in on the areas where your business can provide value to your customers in ways that your competition cannot. Pretty awesome, right?!
Let's dig in further.
The top quadrant (far left above) represents your competitors’ unique points of value. You don’t have points of value to add in this quadrant...your products, service offerings, and expertise are NOT in this area, though you probably work in a related or sister industry.
If you’re looking for potential partnerships, this would be a great area to focus in!!
For example, at bakery I own with my sister we do not bake cakes. However, there are some really awesome + great bakers who we technically “compete” with who we refer people to all the time when they ask us about cakes. This helps us build trust with our customers and keeps them coming back to us for what we do specialize in (pie), and also builds good-will with other bakeries in our area.
" Re-frame your competitor as a potential partner, and you may be able to grow your business in a way you hadn’t thought of before. "
Another example: I recently came across a woman who was an expert in Facebook marketing, and her partner was someone who is an expert in Instagram. They built a product together to help small business owners learn how to market their shops on social media. This allowed each of them to focus on their unique points of value or area of expertise, but still leverage the knowledge of someone in a related niche. They could have just looked at each other as a competitor in the social media consulting space, but instead they leveraged each others strengths to create something mutually beneficial to both of them.
Re-frame your competitor as a potential partner, and you may be able to grow your business in a way you hadn’t thought of before.
I’m going to skip over the left quadrant (2nd from the left above) for now and dig into the center quadrant / center star (3rd from the left above).
This is a really interesting area, and one that I think a lot of small business owners trip up on. If you feel like you’re “exactly the same” as your competitors and worry that there are already a million other businesses out there doing exactly what you do, then you’re focusing TOO MUCH on this “center star”. You will naturally have overlap between what you offer + what competing businesses offer. Trying to compete on these things is not the best use of your time, unless you have the ability to offer superior value (in the eyes of your customers) than your competitor.
" If you honestly aren’t superior than your customer in these overlapping areas, then don’t spend time focusing on these things! "
If you are going to spend time focusing your messaging on these overlapping points of value, make sure to focus on why YOUR product/service surpasses your competitor’s in some way. If you honestly aren’t superior than your customer in these overlapping areas, then don’t spend time focusing on these things!
Again, I don’t personally think focusing on the points of value in this quadrant is the best use of your time, but I do think you need to have an awareness of these overlapping points of value so you can understand what you’re up against when trying to bring in customers and capture more sales.
The final quadrant (far right in the diagram) is the golden egg...this is the sweet spot where YOU are able to provide value to your customers in some way that your competitor CANNOT. These are points of value that you and only you can provide your customer and you should do everything you can to amplify these points of value!!
These are the areas where you will set yourself apart from your competition and make them totally irrelevant, because they cannot touch you in this area.
EVERY business has unique points of value (seriously)! This doesn’t have to be a specific product or service … it can be a characteristic or value, too. For example: have you ever bought from someone just because you liked them more? Or you felt like you related to or connected with them for some reason?
Whatever the reason for you feeling that way was one of that person’s unique “point of value”. You connected with them and NOT the competition for some reason.
" EVERY business has unique points of value. "
Here's an example: I get my haircut from this guy named David not because he’s the cheapest (he’s not), or it’s the best haircut ever (I could probably get a good haircut closer to my house)...but I like David. He’s a funny, cool, boisterous dude who remembers things about my life even though I only see him every couple months, and he’s the only hairdresser I’ve ever actually wanted to talk to while I get my haircut. I used to just cut my own hair because I hated spending money on something I could do myself, but now I shell out $100 every couple months because I like talking to David.
Is this silly? Yes! Does this make any logical sense? Of course not!
BUT -- purchasing decisions are heavily based on emotions, and your unique points of value aren’t always going to be related directly to your product or service. Don’t discount the importance of these points of value! AMPLIFY them in your marketing messaging, when you’re interacting with potential clients + customers, and when you’re building new products + services.
" The best use of your time + energy is focusing on things that only you can offer your customers. "
The best use of your time + energy is focusing on things that only you can offer your customers. Play these things up! If your unique points of value are characteristics (like in the example above), make sure they permeate all areas of your business. If they are unique products or services that only you are offering, put energy into making them the best they can be, and focus your energy + resources on marketing those things (instead of points of value that overlap with your competitors).
If you want to work through this exercise for your business, you can grab a free copy of the worksheet I mentioned earlier in the post below!