Your investment in advertising now more than ever has to count. Knowing how much it counts is what keeps you ahead of your competitors in terms of return on investment. Sadly, too many businesses are not clear about the fundamentals of their advertising campaigns or about what works.

This article explores the four basic ingredients of your U.S.P. (or unique selling proposition / point ) to make you stand out as the ‘go to guy’, versus many other similar small businesses out there, who are throwing mud at the wall in the vain hope that some sticks. Here I want to take a look at the marketing science of how to brand yourself and stay in the mind of your target audience.

Think Dominos Pizza branding. In the UK, an under-cover investigation on T.V. showed how they exploited foreign workers abominably, forcing people into conditions of servitude who got involved with them. Nevertheless, they remain ahead of the competition, because their terrible treatment of their staff is over-ridden in peoples’ minds by their ability to deliver what customers want, namely:

Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.”

The question for you as a marketer – online and offline – then is whether your mission statement and tag line covers the four crucial things people want to know as they are tuned into “WIIFM” (‘What’s In It for Me’) whilst seeking solutions to their problems.

Your marketing advertising should answer four questions from the standpoint of your customer:

· “Why should I listen to you?”

· “Why should I believe what you tell me?”

· “Why should I act on what you tell me?”

· “Why should I act now rather than later?”

Perry Marshall, a multi-million dollar advertising expert, argues that if you have a U.S.P. ‘slogan’ which covers all four of these bases, you are onto a killer hook!

Does your company’s unique selling proposition describe what’s truly unique about you, compared to your direct competitors? Do you speak directly to your target audience and give them what they need to galvanise them out of their passivity to act on information you give them NOW, before they become distracted by the million other demands on their attention daily?

If not, scrap your woolly-minded marketing campaigns and start to brand yourself from scratch. If you have your niche market’s ear and eyeballs on you, you are in their minds and ultimately you will have their business…

FACT: The world of marketing is cut-throat, no less in online marketing than advertising offline. Every business is vying for dominance to raise their voice above the herd. Competitors often compete on issues of price and delivery; you may need to offer more value than merely these basics to stand out and avoid cost-cutting wars you may lose when launching online advertising and marketing campaigns. You need to shift the agenda in your favour.

Figure out who your ideal customer is; your perfect match for the goods or services you provide and then go after them in your marketing messages using unique marketing messages which set you apart from the rest of the market, by referring to specific benefits offered for specific buying activities. If you take a scatter-gun approach of ‘pleasing all the people all the time’, you please nobody ever and your marketing budget is wasted. Do not assume that even if you hook a customer once, their future loyalty is assured. Be clear from the outset that the reward of any marketing campaign investment is in its ability to generate repeat custom.

Positive return on investment is about attraction marketing, i.e. finding your ‘match’ with whom you can build a lasting relationship and benefit from their loyalty and return sales. There should be mutual respect and trust for each other. This is a true MBA (mutually beneficial arrangement), as opposed to sales and marketing based upon quick turn-around and fast bucks. These principles of marketing are now agreed upon by the top earners in the marketing industry.

Knowing the needs of your target audience and having confidence in your own unique selling proposition means that customer is more likely to warm to you when you offer what they are looking for and then some. If you are an internet marketer, putting out the solutions they seek in your online marketing campaigns means your customer is closer to buying when they eventually make contact with your business and you. They understand your services and products; they know what benefits you specifically offer.

The initial prospecting process of marketing your business’s products and services, along with your unique solutions can be automated online or in repeated offline campaigns, saving you time for the main element of your unique relationship – your giving the customer their tailor made solution in exchange for that person’s business and longer term loyalty to your brand.

This is the truly mutually beneficial outcome of your ability to answer your customer’s four key buying considerations and the result of developing your skill in setting yourself apart from the clamouring voices of your competitors. You go from being just another peddlar to THE professional in the mind of those you seek and market to specifically.

Answering the four crucial marketing questions above is the difference in market invisibility and return custom. Fine tuning your marketing messages will demonstrably show a bigger return on investment for your efforts.