One way you differentiate your business from direct or indirect competition is by offering some distinct and appealing feature, benefit, or idea that sets you apart from the rest of the 'me-too' herd.
This is your Unique Selling Proposition or USP - sometimes referred to as a "unique competitive advantage" (UCA) or "value proposition."
The concept of a USP has been around for a l-o-n-g time, but many business owners are unaware of its incredible value. Your USP is something you can offer your clients or customers that is of benefit to them and gives you an advantage over, or sets you apart from, the competition.
Your USP can be a positioning statement. Positioning is a much broader subject than USP, but for many businesses, the USP does the trick very nicely and simply.
Here's the bottom line on this: If you can't answer the following question, you are losing out on business you could be getting and should be getting, but aren't. And that's the biggest "expense" in your business.
Why should people do business with you or your firm and not go somewhere else? What do you have to offer that's different, and is of a distinct benefit to the people you are trying to serve? And we don't mean the usual yada, yada about "we have great quality or "we're very reliable." Everyone uses those - even if they don't deliver. So that's hardly UNIQUE.
Look, if you can't answer why someone should do business with you and not go elsewhere, you don't stand out in your prospects' minds. And that factor alone is costing you a LOT of money.
When we do our marketing workshops, we have business owners from a variety of businesses and industries attend. To date, very few of them have been able to state what their USP is. It really stumps them. But to their credit, they immediately see the value and necessity of working this out for their businesses.
Now, when you think about that, it's AMAZING! Because, one more time, if there's no compelling reason to do business with one firm versus another, potential customers might as well put a bunch of similar companies' names in a hat and do business with whichever "me-too" firm they pull out of the hat. Pure chance.
Examples of USPs
A USP can be as simple as: "We offer emergency service 24/7" - providing that is unique in your area or industry.
Or "we're the no-hassle car dealership. One price - you know exactly where you stand."
A pizza company, in its formative years, was literally built around this USP: "We deliver within 30 minutes or you get it free." That phrase lifted the company out of the herd of other pizza "me-toos" and increased the company's sales by millions of dollars.
A dry cleaning establishment gets all the dry cleaning business of one of our staff for a simple reason . They have a drive-by door. He drives up, passes over his clothes, takes his ticket and drives off without having to park his car, walk in, walk back to the car, etc. With his busy schedule, the obvious benefits for him are: it's fast (saves time), it's convenient. This drive-by door is a USP. But only if the dry cleaning establishment promotes it properly.
A good USP or positioning statement should include or state a benefit. It should answer the question, "What's in it for me?" Or make it so obvious what the benefit is for your potential customers that you don't have to state it. But know that many people will not get the "implied" benefit unless it's as obvious as the fact that the sun comes up every day.
Now you have to really live up to your USP. It can't just be lip service. You have to embody it. You have to be it. You have to deliver on it.
The USP is also important for your individual salespeople if you have some. This is the main message they need to push to prospects so they can instantly show prospects why they should be doing business with your firm, not a competitor's.
You or your sales people should be able to express your USP in 15 seconds or less. Ideally, in 5 or 6 seconds.
Remember, you are NOT trying to appeal to everybody. Your USP should be aimed at, and appeal to, your target market. So you'd better know who they are, and how to reach them with your message. If not, it's time to survey and find out.
Your advertising and special promotions should feature your USP. So should your fliers, business cards, postcards, direct mail packages, broadcast or print ads, infomercials, on and on. Often the USP is all anyone can remember about a company. But that's all they need to remember to keep them coming back.
So what's your USP? Why should people do business with you instead of your competition or some similar business?
By the way... sometimes your USP statement or phrase becomes your "audio logo" - another important bit that's been around for a LONG time. So that gives you another reason for figuring it out.