Beyond Branding: What Is Your Unique Selling Proposition?
I am pleased to share the results of another Around the Horn forum session. The question at hand, this time, was, “What is your USP?” USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition—what sets you apart from the pack.
It’s a People Thing
People-centered philosophies were the focus for many of our participants. Their USPs dealt with themes like empathy and trust.
As a consultant at the session said, “People do business with you first, then your product, and finally, the company.” Your USP is the reason people want to do business with you instead of your competitor. People do business with people.
A mover said, “I don’t manage moves; I manage emotions.” A consultant said she “zeroes in on how to set up stories.”
A CPA called herself “a human being who empathizes with her clients and knows the ins and outs of tax and audit.” She said she “bridges the gap to financial literacy.” Similarly, a financial advisor called herself “the champion and personal CFO” for her clients.
Someone who does telecommunication audits—finding areas where his clients are being billed too much and could be saving money—said, “I don’t talk about business. I become a friend and give of myself.”
Master of the Trade
USPs also frequently focused on expertise. People like to know they are getting the best for their money.
The mover who said he manages emotions also said, “We offer a handheld, unique, guided, specific service.” He said he “will walk away from jobs,” as well, showing that he cares about quality more than quantity.
One participant—an attorney who is on a panel of 15 attorneys who advise the state judicial system and has significant visibility in the New York marketplace—said his small firm is a “sophisticated firm offering large-firm employment and litigation support at small-firm rates.”
An IT services provider said he “has a pedigree.” He said, “I was the IT director at a financial firm and am a cyber security expert. I protect the data integrity of my clients.”
About 25 years ago, during the early days of the Internet, someone said of his IT business, “In the age of the Information Superhighway, we provide the seatbelts and airbags.”
A USP Is Not a Platitude
There might be dozens or even hundreds of other companies a client could choose from, all of which provide the same product or service you provide. A good unique selling proposition tells your potential clients why they should choose you over all those competitors.
It’s not enough to say you’re bigger, better, faster, smarter. Those are platitudes.
Simply saying you “provide a good service” is like saying you breathe. Everyone does that. What makes you different? What makes you appear special to potential clients? What will they get from you that they won’t get elsewhere?
“Branding” is a clichéd buzzword these days, but what it really boils down to is this: “What do people think of when they think of you?” When someone says Coca-Cola or IBM or Google, you immediately have a perception of what those names signify. That’s what makes those brands who they are.
What makes you stand out from the crowd? What do people think of when they hear your company’s name? Feel free to share your USP.
President of Network!Network!
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