If you’ve thought about your marketing at all, you’ve almost certainly come across the concept of the USP. Unique selling proposition, unique sales proposition, unique selling point – whichever variation you prefer, it’s all about how your business is different.
If you’ve thought a little more about marketing, you’ll also know that ‘responsive‘, ‘high quality‘ and ‘affordable‘ fail on the ‘unique‘ part of USP. All of your competitors will claim to be one or more of these. To find something unique and stand out, you need to dig a little bit deeper.
Here are some questions which might help you work out what’s special about your business.
Start with your customers
Every customer (and every potential customer, whether they buy from you or not) has needs and desires.
Note the plural. There’s usually an obvious need or desire – a new car, food, IT support – but there are others things on your potential customer’s mind. Time to dig a little deeper, beyond the obvious.
For example, imagine you go out to eat. You’re buying food, but what else are you buying?
- You might pick a stylish restaurant which has just opened and has been all over the media. You’re fulfillling your desire to be up to the minute and in the know.
- You might pick the one with the best reviews. Why? Because you’re buying confidence that the meal will be delicious.
- You might pop out to your favourite local where the waiter knows your face and your name. You’re buying a relationship, a feeling of friendliness.
- You might choose a fabulous view.
- You might want lots of space between tables for a private business conversation.
- You might want teppanyaki cooked in front of you. You’re buying an experience. Atmosphere.
- You might be in a city you’ve never visited and choose McDonald’s. You’re buying the absolute security of knowing what you will get. And a touch of familiarity in an unknown place.
Those are all emotional needs, rather than practical ones.
So, what are you selling apart from your product or service?
Reach out to your customers and find out what emotional needs you’re fulfilling for them. Ask them open-ended questions. How they feel after using your service. What they liked about it. What their biggest issue was before they worked with you. Why they chose to go with you and not one of your competitors. How you were or still are different. If you have reviews, revisit them. See what themes come out.
Let’s take another example – comprehensive car insurance. Almost everyone who buys this is looking for more security – but security for what? Do they want the car repaired or replaced quickly? Are they more worried about potential hospital and medical bills for an accident? Or do you serve people who’ve had a bad experience where their insurance company didn’t sort things out, so they just want to know you’ll be there for them?
Check out your competition
Let’s say it again. Your unique sales proposition should be unique.
You may not be able to find one thing that’s unique, but if you combine two or three things, you have much better odds of success.
What, in all the things your clients said they liked, is no one else promoting? For some services (accountants, according to my friends and connections), it could be as simple as, ‘We answer the phone. We get back to you promptly.’
Find something which matters to your business more than it does to competitors
This could be a point of principle, a passion, or a specific market. By focusing on something like this, you take a position. Some potential customers may be alienated by it, but people who feel strong sympathy with your position are more likely to use your services.
Let’s look at some examples.
A business with a moral position
The Body Shop was known from its earliest days for the views and practices of its founder Anita Roddick. Ethical sourcing. Recycling and minimal waste. No cruelty to animals. It claimed this position in the market and kept it for decades. Even after Roddick sold to L’Oreal, the brand perception lingered.
Similarly, NoBull Marketing differs from most blogging services in that we don’t research and rehash existing online content. That’s very different from most of our competition. We believe not just in original content, but in original ideas and stories which represent you. It’s all about you.
A business with a passion
Harley-Davidson positions itself differently from other motorbike brands. It represents a particular image of freedom, the space of the open road. It’s in the brand motto – ‘Live to Ride, Ride to Live’. Harley also has a very strong community or tribe. So if you’re a Harley rider, you’ll recognise and instantly bond with other Harley riders.
A business for a specific market
When you start out in business, it’s easy to think any client is a good client. But there’s a lot to be said for focusing on one industry. Coaches who coach other coaches. See Business Solutions offer a range of services to the building industry. VetTech Australia (unsurprisingly) provide IT services for vets.
If you’ve built a client base in one industry, you have demonstrated expertise. It makes it easier for others in the industry to trust you. Some businesses will want to be different, of course, but more will prefer dealing with a supplier who ‘understands my industry’.
Have you worked out your unique selling proposition yet?
It’s unlikely you can develop a USP just by reading this post, but you may have have identified a few things which are different about you. Different in a good way, of course – things clients and potential clients like.
Now’s the time to put thost things together. If you can find three ways your business stands out, combine them. For example, NoBull Marketing does content marketing, but what makes us different is a focus on blogs full of original content which we collect via interview, and which we manage for you from end to end. I I turned that into a USP, it would be something like ‘the most time-efficient way to get your stories, knowledge and ideas out of your head, onto your website, and promoted on social media‘.
What can you come up with for your business?
Let me know, or if you’re still struggling, let’s have a quick chat and see what we can work out together.