7 Steps to Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

7 Steps to Your Unique Selling Proposition

By: Jodi Cross

Check out this video we created to help you learn more about developing your USP.


How do you set your company or product apart from the competition? In business we call it a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or an elevator pitch. Your business needs it, your sales people will sell more effectively and people will remember your product or service by what makes it unique and exciting. Cross Network Marketing (CNMI) has a simple seven step process designed to develop your USP, fine- tune your key selling attributes and identify your target market more clearly.

When designing your USP you must distinguish what is unique about your product or service, incorporate excitement and determine why your customers do business with you over your competition. All of this needs to be done in a concise format that is simple and can be articulated in less than 30 seconds. Once formulated, your USP can be used to position your business in marketing materials, on your web site and for your sales pitch.

Here are seven simple steps to develop your USP:

1. Determine who your customers and target audience are?

2. List three of the most important results your customers are seeking from the purchase of your product or service? This shouldn’t be about quality, service or price- everyone can mimic those benefits.

3. List three reasons why your customers do business with you over your competitors. Think about the potential gaps you fill or problems you solve.

4. List three reasons why you do business with certain companies over others?

5. Describe your target audience and their main problem.

6. Describe how your business can solve the problem by completing this sentence, what we do is…

7. Now distill step 5 and step 6 into a concise statement, this is the start of your USP.

A USP is crucial for your business to succeed. Once you have developed your USP, be sure to incorporate it into your marketing materials. Also, be sure your company can deliver on the promise or your business reputation will suffer.

For a full white paper on how to develop your USP, contact Jodi Cross at jcross@crossnm.com. To work with a CNMI representative on developing your USP call 305- 439-6712 or visit crossnm.com. ©

Job Candidates Behave Badly

By: Jodi Cross

With the new flood of graduates on the market getting a job can be a rigorous process. The competition is steep for good jobs so you should always do your best to stand out, but not in a negative way. I recently spoke with a number of placement firms and recruiters and was shocked by what they deemed the new world of interview candidates. After hearing some of these stories, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to etiquette and manners? I thought I would share some of the stories and you can decide for yourself.

After interviewing a number of applicants for a high level executive assistant position one highly qualified women was sent on to the next round. When she showed up to office for the interview she was wearing contact lenses that made her eyes look like she was an alien. The hiring manager was so distracted that she was ultimately disqualified. Not even the Vulcan Mind Meld could help her now.

Another trend today is many younger candidates don’t know how to dress appropriately. They show up wearing everything from crop pants to flip flops. One  applicant was professionally dressed and made it to the second round of interviews for a managerial job. The manager was impressed with her resume and skill set but when she showed up for the second interview she was wearing an large skull and crossbones hair ornament. The ornament poisoned that opportunity.

Many managers report that candidates text and accept phone calls during the interview process. If this wasn’t rude enough, one candidate took bad cell phone etiquette to a new level, she didn’t bring a purse with her  on the interview and had tucked her cellular phone into her bra. Every time she got a text or a phone call her chest would start to vibrate and jiggle.  Unfortunately, she wiggled herself right out of a job.  

Candidates also share to much personal information. When one manager asked a candidate how her day was going as an opening question, she replied that it was the anniversary of her divorce. No need for a full discloser agreement for this prospect.


If these stories don’t seem a bit strange to you and you are still looking for a job, perhaps a few tips might help you with your plight.

Strategies for landing a job:

1. Dress appropriately, your clothing choices represent your visual image and create a first impression. No one wants to see your tattoo collection or your chipped toe nail polish.

2. Leave the technology in your car or your purse on silent. Never place it in a inappropriate place on your body.

3. Watch what you post on Face book, Twitter and other social media sites. Employers look at all of your background information before making a hiring decision. If you are doing shots at the bar in your photo, that makes a employer wonder if you will show up for work on time.

4. Review your resume carefully for typos and research the company prior to your interview. The more you know the better your chances of rising above other candidates.

5. Set boundaries, if an interviewer asks you about yourself, don’t tell them you just got a divorce or your car is broken down. Be positive and energetic.

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com


Blitz Your Way To New Business


Blitz Your Way To New Business

By: Jodi Cross

When was the last time a business owner or representative came to your business and invited you to try their products or services? This is not a new concept and some would argue that sales blitzes or cold calling are no longer effective. But, it is one of the first projects I organized years ago at my hotel sales job.

Recently, CNMI worked with a client to organize a sales blitz of local accounts. The blitz resulted in almost 10K in definite business and nearly 150K in prospects. Like anything else effective results are in the planning and follow up. One thing is for sure, sales blitzes can be a lot of fun and they get people out of a business as usual slump!

Before you begin to organize, identify the key business goals, special offers and need periods. Create your special offers and leave behind collateral based on those pre-determined business goals.

Here are my four “T’s” to blitzing your way to success.

Teams Sales is everyone’s job, without it your business will not succeed. Be sure to target enough time to get all the blitz materials together and team members oriented. 15-20 days in advance is usually a good planning cycle.

  • Identify a leader- usually your head sales person is best suited to manage the efforts.
  • Create cross-functional teams by including all departments.
  • Anchor teams with seasoned sales professionals and pair them with a junior manager from another department. Cross promote specials and offers collectively.

Territories– Use Google maps or your local city and street addresses to carve out target zones with in a 10-mile radius.

  • Set anchor calls in key buildings so you don’t have any problems with security.
  • Target about 30-50 calls for your teams per day.
  • Make your appointments on slow days like Monday’s and Tuesday’s.

Theme’s/Treats-I go back to my original question of when was the last time someone invited you to do business with them and gave you a gift. In this post e-mail, Internet world many of us rarely come out from behind our computer screen let alone thank our customers personally or invite them to work with us. My background is in the hospitality industry. We are in the business to be welcoming and hospitable. What better way to make someone feel good than to thank them for doing business with you or invite them to try your services.  This isn’t unique to the hospitality industry but it certainly is one nice advantage.  Any business owner can do it. Over the holiday’s, my broker from Edward Jones actually dropped off homemade cranberry relish to my office.

  • If you are promoting holiday parties, drop of Santa cookies and wear reindeer ears. You certainly will get the office talking.
  • Perhaps you are looking for more wedding business, dress up in formal wear and leave behind wedding favors.
  • If you are in the spa business, try bringing scented aromatherapy and leave behind a token gift with a bounce back coupon valid for the next month.

You get the idea.

Tracking- All this effort will be for not if you don’t measure and track the results.

  • Set a morning meeting and nightly recap to gather the team’s cards and tracking sheets.
  • Keep a centralized report on all activities and follow up items.
  • Track revenue for all business units. Just because you were looking for catering business but ended up finding a golf member prospect that still benefits the company.
  • Develop an action item plan for follow-up that the sales team or other managers can pursue immediately while the blitz is still happening.

With a concerted effort and a little organization your business can see immediate results from conducting a sales blitz.

To obtain your own sales blitz tracking sheet, email Jodi Cross at jcross@crossnm.com.

Does Discounting Hurt Your Image?

Does Discounting Hurt Your Image?

By: Jodi Cross

With all the Groupon’s, Living Social’s, Coupon Clippers and web sites offering discounts, how do you know what is right for your business? More importantly, does discounting build loyal customers or hurt your image? The answer isn’t as simple as it may seem.

Discounting drives immediate sales transactions and more visits by loyal customers at a lower rate but it can also hurt your profit and reduce your margins. When dealing with mass marketing sites like Groupon and other sites, they take their cut on top of your offer, which doesn’t leave much of a profit.

There is an upside to discounting, immediate traffic, but you want to avoid the discount driven bargain hunters who will never become your loyal customers. Many customers wait for the discount to engage with your product or service. In essence you are training them to wait for a sale. Think about the retailer Macy’s, they constantly have sales and send out coupon. It has gotten to the point where I won’t even shop at Macy’s without a coupon.

So, how can you convert the discount driven customer to a loyal customer? By getting to know them and winning their business through service and personal attention. Every business should understand your customer base and buying habits. Find out how often the same customers use your product or services? Determine if they are new customers, one-time discount users, frequent or heavy repeat customers.

Use social media and review sites to log comments and see who influencers are. For example on Foursquare there are communities with mayors who are influencers. As a business owner you should know who the influencers are and be working your business cycle to convert “First Time” visitors into regular users. Here are some rules of the road that can help avoid the pitfalls of discounting and help you build loyal customers.

If you are going to run a mass marketing promotion make it a short-term promotion, no longer than six to eight weeks then give it a rest for a few weeks. During that time analyze what your business trends and your bottom line profit.  Did you see a short term lift or did it hurt your bottom line? Did you see the type of clientele from the promotion that would fit your demographic profile and did you convert any of them to loyal customers?

Think like a “Mom & Pop” business. The one’s that remember how you like your coffee or how your shirts need to be pressed.   Build your in-house database of customers, gather birthdays, anniversaries, note their “likes and dislikes.” Create a one-on-one relationship with your customer.

Here are some tips to avoid discounting your brand image if you are planning on doing some special offers this summer.

  • Make sure all promotions have a limited time period to run with an expiration date-6-8 weeks. This creates urgency. Then analyze the results.
  • Disguise your discount with a theme or wrap it in a special event like; Mother’s Day, Fourth of July, or Labor Day specials.
  • Use discounts that support your brand and build your internal database.
  • Use bundling as a way of disguising the discount. Offer a “Tour of Italy” and bundle some spa services that include grape treatments and a glass of wine to entice trial.
  • Look into partnerships as a way to get a discount out to a select group of customers. Friends and Family discounts are very popular during off peak times.

Monitor your customer’s patterns; keep on top of review sites and social media to engage them. If you make your customers happy by providing good service they will tell others and you won’t have to discount on an ongoing basis.

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant and freelance writer, she may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.

What’s In A Name?


Whether naming a person or a product the power of naming has been immortalized for centuries in the bible, through poetry and in rites of passage. Choosing the appropriate name is vitally important, nothing is used more than a name. Take my name for example, in Hebrew Jodi translates to bright, lively and social. Of course there was no way of knowing this when my parents named me but I would say my name does suit me. In some cultures they have a naming ceremony after a baby is born. Naming is taken so seriously in Senegal for example, that they wait a week to observe the baby’s characteristics, temperament and look at the shape of any birthmarks to determine the best name for the child.

Selecting a name plays a critical role in influencing buying decisions of products as well. A great name can enhance a company’s brand appeal, while a poor name can weaken an otherwise excellent brand. When it comes to names, brands only get one chance to make a good first impression. The name must capsulate the features and benefits of a product in a way that the consumers can relate to and understand.

At CNMI, when we develop a new name for our clients, we start with an idea generation session. As we go through our process we consider both internal and external criteria along with aspirational and symbolic qualities. 


  • Ownership
  • Personality
  • Distinction
  • Reputation
  • Differentiation
  • Retention
  • Positioning
  • Share of mind


  • Company self-awareness
  • Culture
  • Alignment
  • Cohesion
  • Individualization
  • Relationship
  • Bonding 

When determining a naming protocol, companies need to examine their target audience and key drivers, as well as how well the name resonates in tone and personality. Once this is done, consider how the name might be abbreviated and look at abstract uses. For example, Chevrolet employees are responsible for calling their vehicles Chevy. At first, management forbid the abbreviated but now it is consider a more modern way to describe their brand. People and companies spend thousands of dollars and multiple hours on the process of naming. Apparently Shakespeare was wrong when he wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” If a rose had been called a Monkshood instead, which means deadly foe, would we love it just the same?

For assistance with naming or marketing projects contact Jodi Cross at jcross@crossnm.com.

Has Commercialism Cannibalized Our Holiday’s?

Has Commercialism Cannibalized Our Holiday’s?

By: Jodi Cross

May and June represent the months that we honor our fathers and mothers for all the hard work they have done for us. For my parents now in their 80’s, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is about time spent with them, not the gifts and dust collecting tchotchke we purchase. Is commercialism being taken too far?  Even the original founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, thought so and tried to have it removed from the calendar.

We celebrated Mother’s Day first some 58 years before Father’s Day. In 1908, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. The inspiration was her very own mother whom she overheard praying for peace and reconciliation along with a special memorial day to honor all mothers. Upon her mother’s death in May of 1905, Anna started a campaign to honor mothers. After gaining financial backing from a Philadelphia department store owner named John Wanamaker, in May 1908 she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in West Virginia. That same day also saw thousands of people attend a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s retail stores in Philadelphia. This began the tradition of commercializing Mother’s Day.

Finally her persistence paid off and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. During his declaration, President Wilson described mothers as “a tender gentle army.” Anna’s vision of the day involved wearing a white carnation as a badge for mothers who were deceased and presenting pink or red carnations to mothers who were still living.  The day was meant for visiting one’s mother, writing a kind and loving letter and attending church services. But once Mother’s Day became a national holiday, it was not long before florists, card companies and other merchants capitalized on its popularity. By 1920, Jarvis grew disgusted with how the holiday had been commercialized. By the time of her death in 1948 Jarvis had tragically disowned the holiday altogether, and even actively lobbied the government to see it removed from the American calendar.

A few years after the Mother’s Day movement started there were some grumblings about a holiday to honor fathers. On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers. A one-time service was organized to honor 362 men who had died from an explosion at coal mine.  Two years later in 1910, the governor of the state of Washington proclaimed the nation’s first Father’s Day.

 The campaign to celebrate our nation’s fathers did not meet with much enthusiasm and dragged on for years without support.  Men continued to scoff at the holiday referring to the day as a “commercial gimmick to sell more products often paid for by the father himself.” Finally 1972, Father’s Day was proclaimed a nationwide holiday by none other than President Richard Nixon.

The founder’s vision was not to commercialize the day, it was meant to spend time with your families and communicate loving messages of appreciation. As for my own parents, they barely recall any of the long gone neckties or miscellaneous gifts we gave them over the years, but they certainly do remember the time we spent with them and the memories we made together. 

Event Marketing – Increase Your Visibility & Attendance

Event Marketing – Increase Your Visibility & Attendance


By Jodi Cross


vent marketing sparks a glamorous connotation. We envision red carpets, celebrity sightings, decadent food and elegant decorations. For anyone in the event marketing business, we know that the glamorous façade is a sham. Successful events take careful planning and management to fill a room. What do you do if you don’t have a big budget or a celebrity speaker or endorsement as a hook? Simply put, creativity and marketing can create just the buzz you need to engage the right crowd.  Here are some best practices for creating visibility and growing your attendance.


Every meeting or event starts with a plan. Outline your goals; consult with your team or clients to determine what measurements and metrics for success can be put into place. Layout the goals on a timetable and tie every step of the event planning into the timeline agreed upon. Goals can range from; a product launch to fundraising to innovations or information assimilation.

The challenge today is to create buzz in a cluttered market place where consumers have “seen it all”. Consider tying your event in with a current news trend, hot celebrity or high-visibility keynote speaker. The selection of a keynote speaker celebrity can often be a miss-step. Companies look at the price tag instead of the speakers appeal to their target audience. Speakers don’t have to cost a lot of money. We hired a speaker who was not a well-known name but her products were. We framed the whole conversation around the making of Gilt Group the on-line buying portal, and how she built an empire.

Try infusing humor, food samplings, social media scoreboards, product demonstrations and contests to keep the momentum and buzz going. You have your plan, the dates and location has been set. Now is the time to start to build interest and awareness.


The cornerstone of all the promotion efforts is the event page or website. This could be a page or website specific to the event, either way, make it compelling by including ALL of these elements:

  • Description of event using key words so search engines can find you
  • Speakers and flow of events, the event page should show their faces and list their credentials
  • Snippets of Video or interviews with speakers that could appear on social media
  • Register now button should be visible as a quick call-to-action.
  • Image and logo of the event plus any past pictures of people having an engaging experience, be sure to use title tags and headers for enhanced search ability


If you have a list, email marketing is your easiest channel to build awareness. Gather partners, speakers, or corporate lists use these email marketing guidelines:

  • Design a compelling invitation
  • Use Pithy Subject Lines that inspire, or motivate someone to open the e-mail
  • Send during the weekend or toward the later part of the week to increase open rates
  • Include refer to a friend buttons, video thumbnails of speaker, and event highlights
  • Include all the social media icon’s on e-mail so people can friend and follow the event
  • Send often and repeatedly, use early-bird promo’s, speaker line-up’s, registration deadlines as triggers


Events are social occasions therefore social media should be used before, during and after your event to build awareness. Here’s how to promote the event with social media and blog posts:

  • Create an event hashtag that is short and use it for every tweet and post-tweet key sound bites during the event and mention who said what
  • Change your links on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to go directly to the event landing page
  • Post images and pictures of the event on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+
  • Engage the right target audience, do some research to find like-minded followers
  • Write some pre-event blogs that you can send out in advance as an event “tease”
  • Tweet often and frequently using tools like Hoot Suite or Buffer can help you schedule tweets Sample Tweets; Registration open, Early-bird ends Friday, Tweet quotes from speakers and highlights from their presentation


If you want the media to push out your event details find the right vehicle and writer or influencer by searching key publications on-line and local writers through Google “event calendars”.

  • Host a media social hour with the speakers and sponsors over drinks
  • Send a calendar notice to the local business publications or chamber websites
  • Offer appropriate media a press badge and rate to cover your event


 Just because the event is over, your marketing doesn’t end there. Event recap blog posts are often easy and fun to write. Post them on the event site or submit them as a guest post to a relevant blog or local or industry / association website. They can include all kinds of relevant content.

  • Summary of presentations
  • Speaker quotes
  • Who was spotted doing what
  • Top Tweets
  • Event photo-gallery

Each event is unique and should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Events can be glamorous affairs or a tedious waste of time. The tipping point is often in executing, marketing and controlling of logistics. Happy Planning. 

Negotiating Is An Acquired Taste

Negotiating Is An Acquired Taste

By: Jodi Cross 

There is an art form to negotiating. When you think about it, we all do it every day whether with our kids, employee’s or in a sales situation. So how can you improve your negotiation skills and get to “Yes”?

At the beginning of any negotiation you must prepare. Recently during a real-estate transaction we ran into some complications that led to a conflict and we almost lost the buyer. Deploying some simple steps can help get things back on track.

  1. Prioritize your stakes, what are you willing to give concessions on and what is off limits? Determine the best outcome prior to starting the negotiation then develop a Plan B scenario.
  2. Do your research. Identify where the other person’s interests lie. What issues are important to them? How well do you know them or the company they represent? 
  3. Determine who else may have a stake in this negotiation? What deadlines are you up against? Can you create leverage to move the deal along or use the deadline as a cost of delay tactic?
  4. Develop supporting arguments and outcomes that can be used as persuasive bargaining tools.
  5. Work on a strategy. Determine your bottom line? Set up your goals from an aspirational and reality based perspective and outline what you want to achieve in writing.

Negotiations should be taken seriously, always remember not to get overconfident and never give away your bottom line.Using key objectives can help reveal your opponents positioning during the discovery process.

  1. Keep the lines of communication open while sharing, listening and asking “why” questions.
  2. Take a cooperative approach by identifying all possible issues surrounding the negotiations, never assume any- thing.
  3. When you are in the bar- gaining zone be prepared to find overlapping points and use bridging tech- niques to create alignment. Bridging identifies alternative concessions by using creative tradeoffs and develops reciprocity.
  4. Never make a concession without reciprocity and avoid unilateral concessions.
  5. Be firm and assertive. Know your worth and be prepared to walk away!
  6. Try to avoid getting emotionally attached to the outcome. One time I was purchasing a car and fell in love with the pin strip- ping detail. I started fixating on the fact the no other car would have those strips and lost track of the bigger negotiation. 

Remember to stay focused during the negotiation process and you will obtain your ultimate goal.

Four Ways To Drive Sales

Four Simple Ways To Drive Sales

By: Jodi Cross 

This is the time of year when most businesses begin to prepare marketing plans for the coming year. We all get analysis paralysis after writing lengthy and complicated plans, laced with statistics about the economy, last year’s performance data and a slew of new benchmarks for success. After all the hoopla is over and the presentations to stakeholders have been made, the plan usually sits on a shelf and collects dust for the rest of the year. Stop the madness, let’s make this year different!

Here are four ways to drive sales no matter what business you are in:

  1. New Trial-you’ve established a solid base of customers who are loyal to you but as the saying goes, “you don’t know who you don’t know.” There is a whole world of prospects waiting to be your customers but they don’t know you exist. You must increase your pipeline and visibility to find new business. Switch your thinking from being internally focused to being externally focused. How do you find new customers?  Advertising, community outreach, direct sales, promotions, partnerships and referrals.
  2. Occurrences-increase the number of times a customer buys from you over a set period of time. The 80/20 rule states that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. How can you get more business out of your 20%? Entice them to buy or come again soon. If you have a product, run a special discount for loyal customers who buy again. When a customer dines with you, invite them back in the next 30-days by offering a free glass of wine. Now one visit a month just turned into two for the cost of one glass of wine. You do the math.
  3. Average Spend-upselling is a good example of a way to increase average spend. If you buy a pair of shoes the clerk could offer, a polishing kit, or a pair of socks. The shoe sale just turned into an extra $20 in your cash register. Try an upselling contest with your staff. Practice good customer service by listening to and observing your client’s needs. If you notice they have children offer additional children’s programs or amenities.
  4. Maximize Your Customer Base-increase the number of people using your product or service. Promotions like bring a friend or couple services will increase your party size. Disney does this well with Florida Resident programs that touts bringing the whole family for a day of memories with Mickey! If you are selling memberships for example, consider bundling single memberships with an option for couples or families. 

For more tips and ideas on marketing your business visit crossnm.com or email me at jcross@crossnm.com

Widen Your Network The Old Fashioned Way

Widen Your Network The Old Fashioned Way

By: Jodi Cross


Recently, I was introduced to a woman whom I would call a networking dynamo. Over the course of one lunch and the two weeks  following our meeting, she introduced me to a cadre of contacts, job opportunities and prospective customers. When we met, she jotted down some notes then followed up with personal introductions via email. Networking doesn’t come naturally for some, those who do it well are extraordinary and make it look simple.  People who are strong net-workers are passionate about life. They are interested in others, they identify common ground and genuinely make others feel important.  

Here are some key’s to developing your network:

Focus on the other person-engage in a meaningful conversation, ask interesting questions, listen actively, put your devices away. Make notes about your conversation. People want to associate with people who are genuine and authentic. Think about how you can make the person in front of you feel important.

Ask for what you want-when introduced to a new contact ask for what you want and who you want to meet and don’t be afraid to ask.  Don’t be shy, sell yourself.

Find common ground-in the case of my meeting, we realized we were both from upstate New York. You can always find something in common, you just have to be open to having a meaningful conversation. When you strike on a mutual interest, people remember you.  

Engage-be committed and enthusiastic about your life and your business Build rapport, engage with others around you. Know your “sweet spot” so you can confidently describe what you do best and the type of businesses you are seeking. Ask them what they do best and start to consider how you might help one another.

Manners Matter-when someone sends you a lead or a referral, send them a personal note thanking them. In our fast -paced world, somehow we have lost our head when it comes to manners. Be on time, make eye contact and hand out compliments freely. Most importantly, following up and keeping your word are the keys to being a great net worker. If you do all of the above, you are well on your way to building a strong network.  

Where it all falls apartis in the follow-up! The one common denominator I noticed more than anything else during my tenure working with a women’s networking group, was the lack of follow-up. I have witnessed 30 women in a room actively networking, even writing things down on the back of business cards. The next day, it’s back to business as usual. I have personally called,  referenced the conservation, asked for the introduction to a vendor they mentioned and sent an email all to no avail.

Keeping your word and doing what you said you would do, making a connection,  are networking 101!  I don’t know if it is insecurity, lack of confidence in the referral or what but you will  have no credibility if you don’t follow-up. Conversely,you will never get the business you so desperately want in return. Here’s to expanding your network!

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