Differentiating yourself in a crowded marketplace Breakdown
When I was musing about Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) the other day I thought it would be interesting to give a real-world example. It just so happens that the next ad I saw was for QuickBooks and my decision was made.
Can you tell me the difference between Quickbooks, Xero and MYOB?
I can’t… I am not an accountant and all but basic accounts receivable and payable is lost on me.
What I can tell you is how I view the three brands
By the way, this was the ad:
The ad in question, plays very much to a small business owner – it is accounting software that makes your life easier, especially the incomparably annoying job of chasing accounts in arrears.
Although Xero has been around for a while in internet years it seems like the easy yet technologically advanced choice.
MYOB is an interesting case it has both a positive and a negative from the one factor: its age; they have years of proven experience and many happy customers in Australia but like pc vs mac they may have a little image problem of being a dinosaur.
But that’s just my viewpoint, let’s have a look at how they portray themselves online.
Upon landing on QuickBooks you can notice a few things
- Small business: they refer to their customers as the hardest workers shameless pandering but also how small business view themselves (and rightly so) and their navigation includes small business, self employed and then accountants/bookkeepers – also there is a hardworking small business owner in the hero image looking at her phone after working on pottery.
- customer service: voted #1 plus you have multiple options of using that customer service via the side buttons; live chat and customer service number in the navigation.
- Technology: you also have a video that is in the shape of a mobile (smaller image next to it denotes it works across all platforms) with a the User Experience (UX) of their app they know a lot their small business owners are on the go and want access to a simple to use platform from their mobile.
- Last but not least; you will see the word Your books, made easy
Xero’s current home screen has:
- Social proof: a million subscribers; an image of a few happy customers from different industry but all pretty trendy looking; and Canstar winners 4 years running.
- Tech savvy: the branding itself is very sleek; tagline is better business; and they have Features & Tools as their first nav choice after which they have Why Xero plus words like advisor, resources and partners are all speaking to its technological prowress.
- Local: I thought Xero was trying to sound approachable mentioning AUS and NZ as well as YOU BEAUTY but something I did not know was that it was founded in NZ and is listed on the ASX. So there you go.
And lastly MYOB:
- Design/technology: whether or not my assumption was right about MYOB being considered a dinosaur in the accounting software space – they are definitely rallying against it via new branding (it was updated less than 2 years ago), a young trendy person who has her finances sorted on a phone
- No nonsense, easy copy: DONE… Set your business up for success… actually lets you run a business.
- Social Proof: also like Xero over a million users but they don’t need to include NZ in their drawing pool.
- Big & oozing with legacy: A breakout mentions version 19. The copy asserts that their software scales with you and the navigation separates you into small, bigger and accountants/partners.
So, you might think my prognostications were to pat myself on the back if they turned out to be right but it was quite the opposite – my intent was to suggest that each of these companies do a great job of keeping their messaging consistent; that we almost instinctively know what we are getting from them even if we know little of them. The differences might appear small (to anyone who doesn’t spend hours appraising the UX of different websites weekly) but they are there.
On a side note, if you did focus on UX (and websites in general) every day you would notice other little things.
- Like the banner for all three has copy on the left and image on the right
- Another common best practice for Software-as-a-service companies is to offer a free trial.
- The fact that the call-to-action buttons are all green the universal symbol for go even though QuickBooks is the only one that uses green in their branding colour scheme. Don’t feel like you must use green, it’s not 100% fool proof, some use red as it suggests urgency or special but at the end of the day our mantra is test early and test often.
- And you will notice that the word “you/your” appears at least once on each of them – Remember, you are always talking to your customers on your website – be friendly!
But I digress, back to differentiating yourselves… if the website has passed the 5 second test and attention is piqued a user may scroll below the fold where usually they will see more important selling points of a product.
QuickBooks focusses on you: save time, claim dollars and mentions (again) their award-winning support.
It should be note Xero has a customer video stories breakout before the list of features when scrolling down the page. Xero decided to have a few more bites at the cherry – showcasing 9 features that will change your life. The focus here is on the variety and technological strength of the application with over 700+ third party apps.
And MYOB goes for the national pride theme for Aussies by Aussies and speak to a human but not just any human an Australian human. And you can do it wherever you want.
Each brand has its differences and similarities but they have all carved out a niche for themselves by appealing to different consumers. So even if you think your offering is the same there will be a way to showcase why you are the right business to solve their need.