There’s nothing quite so devastating as realizing you’re not as unique as you thought you were.
Maybe you started your business believing that you had a completely revolutionary idea/product/approach, and that there was no one else out there doing that thing… Until you found the website of that person who is almost exactly the same as you…
Or maybe your business is just naturally similar to many others. If you’re an accountant, you make candles, or you sell an MLM product, there are literally thousandsof other people out there, doing what you do, competing with you…
It can be disheartening, yet it’s a fairly universal problem. There are very, very few businesses that are truly one-of-a-kind — and if you do happen on a totally novel idea, you can bet you’ll have copycats hot on your heels.
But today, I want to tell you a little secret (that’s actually really huge):
I don’t really believe in competition.
Now, obviously, I have competitors. There are other people out there who sell decorative pillows, Greek life apparel, and business consulting and advice — lots of people!
But I don’t view any one of them as direct competition, because I understand my USP.
A USP is your Unique Selling Proposition, and it’s the benefit, advantage, appealing promise or unique feature you offer that sets you apart from your so-called competitors.
If you want to succeed, it’s vital that you carefully craft a clear, compelling, strong USP into the very fabric of your business and every aspect of your marketing and branding.
So where do you start? Well, you can start first of all with my Uncover Your USP Worksheet. Just click here to download.
Attention Wal-Mart shoppers
Think about some of your favorite brands. What’s their USP?
Neiman Marcus, for example, sells luxury. Wal-Mart sells bargains. Which is the better USP?
In fact, there is no better; there is only different. Both of those companies have their USPs built into every aspect of their businesses from the way the stores look and feel to the kinds of goods they sell.
But it’s a little difficult to compare Neiman Marcus with Wal-Mart, because they’re clearly not direct competitors, so let’s look at Target, Kmart, and Wal-Mart instead.
All three focus on being one-stop shopping, offering variety and value, and being a convenient solution.
But while Wal-Mart and Kmart both try to be bargain leaders, scrambling for the lowest prices and most value, Target chose to differentiate itself by adding style to the mix as well. They offer more stylish products, higher quality goods, and partner with famous designers and brands to offer style to the masses. Many shoppers who love Target wouldn’t be caught dead shopping at Wal-Mart; Target says something about who they want to be and how they want to be perceived.
That distinction helped separate Target from the big-box bargain crowd. Wal-Mart has nearly driven Kmart out of business by being better at their chosen USP (low prices), but Target continues to thrive by being better at being different from Wal-Mart.
Discovering your USP
You don’t have to change your product or service to find your compelling USP, but you do have toposition your product or service as having a unique benefit that your customers are not getting from your competitors.
That positioning happens in your branding, your marketing, your customer service, your customer interactions, and any other customer touchpoint.
The more measurable, comparable, demonstrable, or quantifiable your advantage, the more powerful it will be. For example:
- if you can use a number, like “2 times better” or “94% more effective”
- if you can save people time or money (two of the most powerful drivers) over your competition
- if you provide a higher level of service or a higher quality product
- if you are the luxury/discount alternative
- or if you have a different approach or experience
These are all excellent ways to differentiate yourself.
You must determine the most powerful benefit or advantage that you can possibly offer to an existing or future client so that it will be totally irrational for them to choose to do business with anyone but YOU.
And you need to communicate this benefit in a BIG, BOLD way. Incorporate that fact into everything that you say and do to educate them to see and appreciate that advantage.
Understanding your product or service, and understanding how it can benefit others is paramount to selling. Your customers want to buy from someone who is an expert in their field and at what they do, so you need to assert yourself as an authority in order to gain trust.
Realize what you can make possible for your customers and OWN THAT VALUE.
Your client’s success becomes directly tied to your own.
Delivering your USP
Obviously, then, your USP is a huge part of how you present yourself and your business. It comes down to everything from the words on your homepage to your product photos and description, all the way to what you tweet about and post on your Instagram feed.
Your USP must be integrated into every form of your marketing. And your marketing messages (emails, social media, advertising, etc.) must constantly provide your prospects with examples of how you deliver it. Marketing is the tool to use to protect your customers from buying competitor’s products that won’t serve them like yours will.
Part of my USP is the message that entrepreneurship can be the road to freedom and success, and one of the ways I demonstrate that again and again is with the #workfromwherever movement.
When I post pictures of me and Devin working from the beach, or a chalet, or even my favorite brunch spot overlooking the park in NYC, it reminds people of that freedom and success I strive to help them achieve. When I regram other people’s #workfromwherever posts, it helps encourage my audience to believe that each and every one of them can achieve the freedom and success they dream of.
That USP is evident in my Instagram feed as much as it is in the photos on my website, and the emails I craft for my audience.
Your USP should be etched into the minds of your customers before, during, and even after they’ve bought from you.
Ready to uncover what makes you unique in the eyes of your clients and customers? Download my Uncover Your USP worksheet and start defining the little (and big!) things that make you unquestionably YOU.