A USP is a unique selling position and should be considered an important aspect of your handmade business. Starbucks vs. Dunkin’ Donuts, Pepsi vs. Coke, Lululemon vs. Nike; each company is selling something very similar to the other so they must have a product feature that stands out or market their products in a way that lets consumers know they’re offering something different.
Having a compelling USP is an important piece of the consistent-sales-puzzle.
Can you sell products without a USP? Sure. But will you sell more with a powerful USP? Absolutely!
It’s one more component that makes the difference between shoppers stumbling upon your products at a craft show, on Etsy, your website, etc. and making a sale here and there vs. driving shoppers to your products and having them purchase again and again.
I cover coming up with a USP fully in HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY and get you started on finding yours in the free 5-day challenge BEAT LAST YEAR’S SALES.
If you’re making any of the mistakes mentioned in the article, the free challenge and ebook will be good tools for you.
USP MISTAKE #1 – THINKING “UNIQUE” MEANS NO ONE ELSE SELLS IT
I hear/read a lot of crafters saying:
“I know what I sell is unique, but I’m just not making sales”
Here’s the truth:
The number of truly unique products on the market is very low. Unless you’re inventing a product no one has ever heard of, your product probably isn’t that unique.
And if it really is unique and you can’t find a single business out there selling something similar, it may mean there isn’t enough demand.
You DO NOT have to come up with something that has never been done before in order to make sales. In fact, I’d encourage you NOT to.
“Never been done” or “can’t find it anywhere” means you’re blazing your own trail. That’s very challenging, time-consuming and expensive.
Marketing a product that no one else is selling means you must build a new bandwagon, get it moving and encourage enough people to jump on it that they keep the momentum going and tell others about it.
Piggybacking on the popularity of a product that has been done makes for a much easier ride.
And instead of adding an unknown element, combine another popular element to come up with something unique or put your unique spin on it.
For example, if choker necklaces are popular, a jewelry vendor doesn’t have to come up with a never-thought-of-before choker design or start a completely new necklace trend.
Instead, they could take the popular choker style and combine it with the popular geo shaped crystal trend, adding a geo-shaped pendant. Or they may add their unique style by creating goth versions of a choker. Or, if their style is on the feminine side, perhaps delicate chokers for brides or bridesmaids would be a fit.
Your USP must keep your target market in mind and that target market should be a LARGE existing target market.
You can’t invent a new group of people interested in everything from traditional and elegant bridal designs to bold gothic statement pieces. A customer is either drawn to delicate pieces or bold gothic pieces but very rarely both.
You can, however, find an existing group of people interested in traditional bridal jewelry (Brides Magazine, The Knot blog, House of Brides online store, etc.) OR gothic jewelry (e.g. Gothic Beauty Magazine, La Carmina Blog, Rebels Market online store, etc.) and create products for ONE of them.
Take “unique” in USP as offering something that’s for a specific group of people (that actually exists and not just a group built around a product that you’re hoping exists) and has less competition.
There are thousands of companies selling regular soap, but vegan soap for animal lovers has less competition. There are millions of “farmhouse” home decor products but less competition when you focus on masculine farmhouse decor for men interested in interior design. There are millions of knitted slouchy hats and infinity scarves but not many made for the male baby/toddler hipsters.
Do you see the difference?
Need help determining which existing and profitable target market you should go after and crafting a powerful USP? Join my free 5-day challenge: BEAT LAST YEAR’S SALES.
USP MISTAKE #2 – THINKING “HANDMADE” MAKES THEIR PRODUCTS UNIQUE
“Handmade” or “one of a kind” is NOT a USP. Every handmade vendor’s product is “handmade” or has an element of being one of a kind because of the inconsistencies created when a product is made by hand.
“Handmade” is also not the main reason a consumer buys a product.
If you put an item in front of someone and they don’t need it, they’re not going to say: “Oh it’s handmade? Now I want it.”
If you put a product in front of someone who doesn’t need it but it’s exactly their style, has a cool brand or makes them feel they’ll regret not buying today because it will be gone and hard to find tomorrow, they’re more likely to buy.
- Styles the maker has infused into the product
- Stories behind the product or business
- Features the product has
Are much more encouraging selling points than “handmade”.
Your USP’s purpose is to point out the benefit to the customer.
“Handmade” makes a product awesome, but it’s not the benefit.
If the handmade element truly is the benefit, then “high quality”, “customizable” or “ethically produced” would communicate the perks more clearly than simply stating “handmade” as the benefit.
A benefit clearly tells the consumer what’s in it for them. “Handmade” does not do that.
Those who frequently shop handmade may understand all the benefits but most people don’t think “that makes my life so much better!” when they hear “handmade”.
What will make shoppers clearly see the benefit of your products?
USP MISTAKE #3 – NOT HAVING ONE
Not taking the time to craft a powerful USP is a mistake many small businesses make.
But a mistake that’s even more common is not taking the time to create products that have a unique angle.
When you simply offer something hundreds of other vendors offer, you’re more likely to hear:
“I could make that”
“You could make that”
“I’ll just ask so-and-so to make one….she knits/sews/crafts/etc.”
“I can find it cheaper at the mall”
If you want to run a successful craft business that stands the test of time, you should be constantly brushing up on your skills to move beyond the basic crafter and to offer something not every crafty person can make. Or create something that’s specialized/niche enough that every big box store doesn’t carry it.
Handmade businesses are gaining popularity because they’re simple and cheap to start (as outlined in LAWS FOR SELLING HANDMADE), don’t require a lot of startup capital or years and years of training.
That means more competition for you.
LOTS of people know how to sew, knit, put beads on a string, etc. so there’s no urgency for consumers to buy from you if they can easily find a similar item at any craft show, on Etsy, etc.
But if you really dedicate yourself to your business and invest in training to learn new skills, research new trends, become a branding expert, etc. it becomes easier to find that unique angle that’s not already covered by every knitter, sewer, jewelry maker, etc.
Once you find that angle, stick with it. Offering one vegan bar of soap for animal lovers among 20 regular bars of soap or offering one gothic choker among hundreds of beaded, leather, feminine, bohemian, etc. necklaces, earrings and bracelets doesn’t build a strong brand, mass followers or a loyal audience.
Once you determine your unique selling position, don’t forget to communicate it! Your USP should strongly influence your branding and come through in almost every aspect of your business.
Not sure how to come up with a sale provoking USP or how to apply it. It’s all covered in HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY.
Not sure if HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY is for you? Join the free challenge BEAT LAST YEAR’S SALES for a sample and a few key lessons from it.
What’s your USP? Share what you sell and your unique selling position in the comment section. If you can’t put it into words or clearly communicate it in a sentence or two, your USP may need some work.