I was reminded again at the weekend (I am being Masterminded by Jonathan Jay) how important is it to be unique in business. We were talking about USPs, and why a business owner must know what their USP is before they can market their business with success.
USP stands for Unique Selling Point, or Unique Sales Proposition. I was reminded how hard it is to define these — to really make them totally unique.
It is quite easy to come up with a USP only to realise under scrutiny that it's not, in fact, unique and could easily be applied to other businesses. So it was good to have the Mastermind group of business owners challenging each other to be unique.
Now, a USP is not to be confused with a strap line (a 'one liner' you have to describe your company or what you do), as a strap line is rarely unique.
Think about these examples of strap lines, and you can easily see why they are not USPs:
- Nike said 'Just Do it'; I could say that — it's great marketing advice!
- Coca-Cola said 'It's the Real Thing'; plenty of things that businesses sell are 'real'...
- McDonalds said 'I'm Lovin' It'; which, while debatable(!), could also easily be used by anyone selling anything!
So a USP is not a strap line. For example, the strap line for my business is 'No-nonsense business marketing and web sites that work', which while clearly cannot be used by any company, it could be used by any business that provides marketing consultancy and designs web sites.
So what is unique about my business... well, I am still working on the exact wording for this for my Mastermind homework :)... but it will involve the unique experience, skills and customer testimonials that our business has.
Here's an example for illustration:
Say you have a holiday business in Cornwall. You could say:
'We provide the most relaxing low-cost breaks in Cornwall'
...but then this isn’t necessarily unique, as other holiday businesses in Cornwall could say this. But if you say (for example):
‘A stay with us has been described by guests as "the most relaxing holiday we've have ever had", and "a treat worth 10 times the cost". We have combined our experiences as an interior designer and alternative therapist to design the perfect holiday accommodation for couples and families in Cornwall with our own exclusive spa treatments on hand.'
OK, so it's a bit more wordy, but I already said it wasn't a strap line!
There are many details in this example description that make it unique — it reflects the personal experience of the business owners (unique), it has specific reviews from customers (unique to the situation), and it mentions exclusive treatments that are available only at this location (unique). This is a unique selling proposition.
So go away and think about what really is different in your business, and make sure you communicate that in your marketing. Put it on your web site, talk about it with prospects, don't ever forget it.
Your USP is the answer to the question: 'Why should I buy from you and not a competitor?' You can't answer that question with anything a competitor could say if you want a fighting chance.
Want to talk more about this?