Finding Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Now that you’ve figured out your ideal client, it’s time to work on your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) so you can tell them how you’re different from your competitors. Theodore Levitt, a professor at Harvard Business School, suggested that, “Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.” Neiman Marcus sells luxury; Wal-Mart sells bargains.

If you say you provide quality services or that you offer the best customer service, that’s not enough. Everyone says that!  Better is only better if you’re different. But keep in mind that being different for different’s sake is not enough. That difference must be of value and speak specifically to your customers.

Your difference must solve a frustration for your clients, eliminate one of their key problems, enhance what they experience, or dramatically alter a well-worn industry given with a unique solution only you can provide.

What do we mean by common frustrations?

Here are some examples of situations you’ll all recognize:

  • Attorney’s are notorious for not returning phone calls in a timely manner. Here is a  unique solution one attorney provides: The attorney makes a guarantee that if their clients’ calls aren’t returned in one business day, they’ll take $500 off the client’s next invoice (something other attorneys would never do.)
  • Contractors frequently overbid projects and rely on the power behind their license as a justification. Let’s say you’re a handyman. A unique solution you could offer:  Your work is guaranteed to pass Building and Safety inspection or you will fix it for free.
  • Customer service representatives don’t really care if you find a solution or not. A unique solution for your customer service team to supply is “We don’t hang up until you’re happy.”

Uncovering Your Difference

What makes your business different?
What makes your business different?

How can you uncover your unique difference, that one offering that will move you head and shoulders above all the rest in your competitors? You can begin by asking yourself some questions:

  • What could we do that no one in our industry is doing?
  • What is the greatest frustration of our ideal customers?
  • Are there innovations in other industries we could adopt?
  • Are there unique ways to package, price or deliver our products and services?
  • How could we create a totally unique customer experience?
  • What would make my business stand out?
  • Why should somebody use my services or hire me?
  • How can I become the best at something no one else is attempting?
  • How can I help my customers in a way that is rare and different?
  • What offer can I make to overcome a common frustration?

What you may uncover is that you may already be doing something different, you just don’t realize it. You may think that everyone does this! For example, a remodeling contractor places a high priority on taking extra care when cleaning up before leaving the job site. Many people are accustomed to contractors leaving behind pieces of drywall, nails and screws on the floor, and other debris. This contractor now leverages this in all his marketing messages. An easy way to find out if this is true for you is to interview your best customers. You may discover that your customers appreciate some of the little things you do that no one else does.

Simple Steps to Uncover Your USP

  1. Write down any features or benefits your company provides that you know are unique because you’ve studied your competition.
  2. Stand in your customer’s shoes and ask what emotional needs you are meeting for them.
  3. What are you currently offering that your competitors just can’t touch or duplicate?
  4. Create phrases looking at the words you used in 1, 2 and 3 and keep them succinct.
  5. Answer this question as if you were your customer: “What’s in it for me?”

You want to stand out in the mind of your customer. In Minneapolis, Benjamin Franklin is known as the “Punctual Plumber” and offers to pay you $5 for every minute they’re late up to $300. Don’t hesitate to toot your own horn by claiming what’s right and good about yourself and your business.

Before you can become profitable, you’ve got to sell your business, and your USP helps you easily do that. There are very few one-of-a-kind cleaning services. If you offer a 30 minute response time, tell that to the world.

Don’t allow yourself to become discouraged. Successful businesses don’t necessarily have to have a different product, but they do need to have a unique delivery of that product or a unique guarantee behind that delivery. It might just promote an intense team bonding if you sat down with your teams and asked them what they think your USP is.