In today’s ultra competitive world, having something that makes your business stand out from the crowd is more important than ever. However, for my clients, identifying their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) can be one of the hardest things that I ask them to do. To some this may seem incomprehensible – surely you know what makes you different from others in the marketplace? But the reality is, if you have been in businesses for years, selling the same product or service that your competitors do, you are often too immersed in your business to see the wood for the trees.
Before I explain some ways to find your USP, let me help you understand why in today’s world it is so much more important than it ever has been to find your uniqueness, and importantly, to tell people about it!
Imagine what the world was like 200 or so years ago, in the early 1800’s. Most people did not travel far from home, and communication was by word of mouth and telegrams. If you were a trader in those days, your target market, competition and marketing options were very limited. If you wanted to advertise something, you stuck a poster on a wall or put a display in your shop window, and passed the word on to your regular clients to come and see you. You tended to do well if people knew you and talked about you. So you would either make money by being the only person in town supplying your goods/services, with no options for customers to go elsewhere, or you would have to make your own success by creating raving fans who came back time after time, and promoted you to their friends.
Then in the early 1900’s, commercialisation really started to gain a foothold in western civilisation. Travel was still limited, but improving – we were moving from horse and cart to powered cars and trains, so people could travel further than they could walk, and thus people’s level of choice grew. Communication methods were improving all the time too, with printed material then radio, which allowed the spread of messages further afield and to a wider audience.
As a result, people who were looking for the next best thing, not content with what was on their doorstep, were lured by attractive advertising, promising them ever better products and experiences. From this, advertising as we know today was born, and those people who made money in this century were those that marketed themselves well, even though their product or service might not have been the best. People with great products and services but who did not have the marketing budget to shout about it were left behind.
Now we jump forward another 100 years to the present day, where communication is instantaneous, people commute thousands of miles a year for work and fly round the world for a relaxing holiday, while social media has meant we can now keep in touch with people we have never met. The ease and cost of communication has fallen so much over the last 10 years, and while it is set to change the world as much as the steam engine did, my view is that it will also take us back to the way things were in the 1800’s.
I am not talking about living in poverty and ignorance – what I am referring to is the fact that now everybody knows about everything and has the ability to communicate with everybody, we have gone back to a village mentality. In the 1800’s, if you did something good or bad in your village, everybody knew about it quickly, and if you wanted to be noticed you had to do something notable and stand out from the crowd. Well, this is really where we are heading now. It is no good just telling people that you are there. Everybody knows that you are there, what you have to do is shout about why you are different, and what you want people to do about it.
So lets bring this back to your USP. In the global village that we are becoming, it is not the medium which we use that will differentiate us, but the message we send. Just think how little some big corporations such as Facebook, Google and Amazon have spent on traditional marketing, compared to the extent of their growth. They got to the size that they are by being different, giving value and making people talk about them.
So, what if your product or service is not unique? Well, all you have to do is think differently. Amazon is actually not unique, it is just a retail store, but the way it went about developing its service was unique, and it created this uniqueness through the systems and people it employed. So to get your business into a unique position, don’t look at WHAT you do, look at HOW you do it, and as long as this adds value to your customers and gets them talking about you, then you are half way there.
So go on, take ACTION, look at how you do what you do, define your USP, and make sure you tell the world about it!
And if you’d like more great marketing tips, why not come along to our upcoming Marketing Mastery Workshop? Call us for your PROMO CODE to get yourself a place at this great workshop at a specially discounted price!