Your business website is finally done. It looks beautiful, has good content and seems to tick all of the boxes. But it’s not bringing in leads. And visitors are bouncing from the home page.
Sound familiar? If so, it’s because your home page isn’t answering the right questions.
Are you answering the right questions?
When visitors land on your site, they’re looking for answers to certain questions. Most small business sites focus on the who (who we are) and what (what we do).
But what about the why? No, not ‘why we do what we do.’ That can be important too. But your visitor is asking a different ‘why.’ They’re asking, “Why should I spend time considering this company?” Or “Why should I pick them over their competitor?”
For your prospects, this why question is one of the most important. Yet it’s one rarely answered on small business websites.
It’s vital to answer this on your home page with your unique selling point (USP). I’m not talking about your catchy slogan or branding. I mean a benefit you offer that your competitors don’t. What makes your business unique?
For most business owners this isn’t an easy thing to define. But it’s necessary if you want prospects to stick around and consider your offer.
Remember the context
Your prospects aren’t visiting your site in a vacuum. Your site might even be the 2nd or 3rd they’ve looked at while searching for a solution. So you have to think of how well your site does in that context.
Imagine it in person. You’re in a room with a potential client and have to pitch your offer while standing next to 2 of your competitors. If you each gave an elevator pitch, would yours be much different from theirs?
This is what’s going on every day online.
As people search for solutions to their problems, they’re comparing their options by comparing websites. Does the message on your site measure up against those of your competitors?
You can win this customer comparison with a good USP. That’s why it’s important.
What is a USP?
It’s like the MVP of sales pitches. Only it’s not just a pitch. It’s something that’s baked into your business.
A unique selling point or USP is a promise you’re making to customers of a specific value you’ll provide—one they can’t get elsewhere. It’s also called unique value proposition (UVP) or brand position.
A great USP is…
Not only that, it needs to be clear and upfront on your website’s home page.
In fact, using more of the space on your website’s home page to describe your USP would help. A study by CLX Institute showed visitors noticed the value proposition more quickly when it took up more space on the page. Visitors also spent more time on the USP as opposed to elsewhere on the page.
All of these elements in the first screen view of your home page should work together to describe your USP:
- Home page headline
- Paragraph or bullet points
- Photo or graphic image
How do you create a value proposition?
There are a few ways to figure this out, but let’s keep it simple and start with one question.
If you were to write a “Why choose us” list on your website, what would you include?
If you’re a service provider, you might include things like:
- Great customer service
- Competitive rates
- Award-winning or highly rated
These are great qualities, but since they focus on you, the benefits aren’t clear to them, your clients.
Focus on the benefits or what’s in it for them. For example, “experienced” can mean their job will be hassle-free because you’re good at what you do.
Here’s one way to turn the items above into benefits:
|Experienced & Professional||Save time with smooth, professional delivery.|
|Great customer service||Get a no-stress experience with efficient service.|
|Competitive rates||Save money or get the most for your budget.|
|Award-winning or highly rated||Hire with confidence as we’re trusted by your peers (or by X, Y & Z clients).|
Describing the benefits is much better, but are these different enough to set you apart? Not usually.
If your competitors are saying the same things, you’ll need to go a step further for a unique selling point. Even a small variation can give you an edge, as long as it’s desired by your customer.
A few other ways to differentiate:
- Unique product design or service offering
- Specialized training, experience or credentials
- Specific customer experience you provide
- Business ethics or principles (organic, etc.)
- A special system or process that brings results
- Niche target customer
USP check: Does it work for your audience?
Once you’ve done the above exercise, you need to check your possible USP for the most important point of all — is it in sync with the wants and needs of your target audience? Your unique selling point won’t help you if it’s something your ideal customer doesn’t care about. Desirability is a major factor.
Please don’t assume you know what your ideal client wants. It’s natural to feel that way if you run the business and speak to clients often. But clients don’t always reveal problems they have or some of the deeper reasons why they would choose a solution like yours.
Plus, your client motivations and the marketplace may change over time.
You may see…
- Newer (and younger) clients with new challenges that weren’t issues before
- New competitors offering services or features that are now expected for your niche
- Updated technology, like mobile shopping, that may affect how people buy from you
This is why copywriters like me research every target audience before writing. We do this by running a survey, either on the website or by email, and/or by interviewing clients.
Uncovering your prospect’s paint points will help you create a USP that is unique AND desirable. This kind of USP is golden when you’re compared against others.
Now let’s see how using a USP stacks up in a comparison.
Unique Selling Points in a competitor comparison
I’m going to compare home pages from real websites to show how USPs can give you an edge. I’ll look at project management or productivity tools as they’re in a very competitive space with many tools offering similar features.
Let’s see who’s doing a good job of communicating their USP on their home page above the fold (before you start scrolling). Remember, it should be unique, specific, desirable and believable.
Basecamp has been around for more than a decade now and is well known, so they benefit from having that brand recognition. They’re banking on that recognition and their numbers (“4,809 companies signed up in the last week alone!”) to convince visitors.
So is their premise unique, specific, desirable and believable?
The all-in-one toolkit idea isn’t unique (as you’ll see), but it is specific in the benefits described in “After Basecamp.”
What about desirability? “Working remotely” and the “work from home” concept is highly desirable right now, since we’re in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, so kudos to them for adapting quickly to current needs.
Their message is also believable with numbers (nearly 5,000 new customers in one week) and review snippets at the top.
Overall: Not unique, but a good home page by Basecamp. Like most large companies, they’re relying on their reputation, but they’re still trying to position themselves as a tool for working remotely.
Asana is another tool that has been around for a while (since 2012) with good brand recognition.
Is their message unique, specific, desirable and believable?
Unique? No. They have the bare minimum of specifics and could do better there as well.
I’ll grant them that managing everything in one place is desired by many and believable, mostly because of their reputation. The free trial helps as well.
Overall: While I like Asana as a tool, this effort is a bit lackluster. If we were looking at it alone (in a vacuum so to speak) it would be OK, but in a comparison against others it’s not enough. No image or visual appeal above the fold makes it worse.
It’s nice to see some color on Trello’s site. Let’s dive into their message.
Is it unique, specific, desirable and believable?
I’d say “fun, flexible and rewarding” is unique enough in this space. Haven’t seen fun mentioned in any of the others! It’s also specific and I like the benefits in the headline.
While Desirability is a yes (Who doesn’t want to get more done in a fun way?), believability is so-so for readers who may not have heard of them, which admittedly is unlikely since they’ve been around for so long. The illustrated snapshot of their tool adds to it as well.
Overall: Good job by Trello.
Amazing Marvin is one of the newer tools in this group and has gained popularity recently. Let’s see how they’re doing.
Is their message unique, specific, desirable and believable?
Unique and specific in the headline? No. In the subhead and description? 100% YES. Remember, all of the home page elements should work together on delivering the USP.
Notice the “personal productivity app” subhead or eyebrow copy narrows things down a bit. And “using principles from behavioral psychology to help you beat procrastination” really points out how their tool differs. They’re saying there’s science behind this. Truly unique and specific.
The specificity makes it more desirable, especially to procrastinators, and benefits like feeling in control and finishing your to-do list boost it higher. We see one sign of it being believable here (in the screenshot image) and the free trial helps with tipping people over.
Overall: Great job by Amazing Marvin!
The latest newcomer in the group, Clickup has been getting a lot of chatter in the groups I’m in. Let’s see how their messaging stacks up.
Is it unique, specific, desirable and believable?
By now, their “one app” message looks like a repeat of the others, so while it is desirable, it’s hardly unique at first glance. If you watch the video, the uniqueness is more clearly spelled out and they do a good job with specifics there as well.
I was going to move on to another site, but then I got an exit popup:
Woah! That’s specific! Why didn’t they use this on the home page? They redeemed themselves a bit here, but they’re taking a risk visitors will miss this due to popup blockers or even just not reading before they close out the window.
“All of your work in one place” is still desirable for their audience (and saving 1 day a week is even more so), so they do well there. They also add believability by referring to their ratings and including a video. “Free forever” helps too.
Overall: Good, especially with the popup, but not a standout on it’s own, especially if one doesn’t watch the video.
Amazing Marvin is the clear winner here in conveying a Unique Selling Point that sets them apart.
I should point out that their USP might not appeal to every visitor who lands on their page. You might not relate to their message about procrastination, for example, or not being in control of your to-do list. But that message is based on research into their ideal customer and works for them.
Use these takeaways for your home page
A USP can set your business apart and create a stronger connection with your ideal customer. It’s those few extra details that can help your business win in a cold comparison.
Try to be unique, specific, desirable and believable in your own USP. And use the various elements on your home page to convey that message. Then visit your competitor’s sites to ensure your USP stands out.
Need help? Drop me a note or leave a question below.