One of the most important questions you should ask when starting a business is: what makes you unique? Why should anyone choose you over other people?
No matter the type of business you want to build, chances are, there are already thousands of people doing the same thing. How do you stand out from the crowd and become the top choice?
Just doing good work won’t cut it. You have to start by deciding what your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is. USP is just marketing lingo for the secret sauce that makes you different (and better) than your competitors.
Your USP is what will make people want to buy from you and not from your competitors. Deciding on the right USP will make it easy for you to spread the word about your business and allow you to sell more.
Now, the question is, how do you do that?
How do you decide on a USP that will make your customers adore you and want to tell all their friends about you?
The Difference Between a Patek Phillipe and a Casio
I want to start by sharing a bit of watch psychology with you.
Why do you think people buy Patek Phillipe watches? Patek Philipe watches are mechanical and constantly need rewinding. Why would anyone want to go through the trouble of doing that when they could just get a Casio which doesn’t need any rewinding?
It’s simple: Just like luxury cars, wearing a Patek Philipe watch makes you look powerful.
People who want to look powerful don’t buy Casios.
So who buys Casios?
People who want a reliable and inexpensive watch.
Although they are both watchmakers, Patek Philipe and Casio have very different USPs.
While Patek Philipe appeals to people who want to show how powerful they are, Casios appeal to people who want a practical watch.
Although both make quality watches, their USPs are so different that Patek Philipe is rarely seen as Casio’s direct competitor.
And this is what happens when you decide on a USP that allows you to stand out in the crowd: you don’t to compete with everyone – only people who are serving the same people as you are.
But what do you decide to be unique about?
Well, great, you think. Now you know how a USP can help you but how do you even start? What should you decide to be unique about?
There are so many ways you can be unique: how do you make a choice?
Although there are many ways you can determine your USP, here are some questions you can ask yourself to find out.
1. Who are your competitors? What are they selling and how are they selling it?
Knowing who your competitors are makes it easier for you to know where you stand and if you have the right resources to beat them at their game.
Say today you find out that your competitor is a big bank. It would probably be very difficult for you to compete with them in areas where they are well-funded and having a lot of money gives them an edge.
In other words, it would be difficult for you to decide on a USP in an area where you lack the resources.
But say you find a market that the bank has neglected. You probably won’t require as much money and will be able to decide on a USP that will make you competitive.
2. Can you offer similar services in a better way?
USP doesn’t always have to be related to your technical skills. It can be offering the same thing but faster or with better customer service.
For example, Zappos is known for its great customer service. In fact, Zappos is a billion dollar company today because of the way its founder, Tony Hsieh, changed the way customer service is like.
Zappos’ USP isn’t that it sells shoes online but that they’re willing to help you every step of the way in making your purchase online. They make buying fun and risk-free.
For Dominos pizza, its USP is that they can send you a pizza within 30 minutes or you get the pizza for free! Who does this serve? Dominos serves hungry people who want to pay for the convenience of pizza delivered to their home with the guarantee that they can get it within a fixed amount of time.
Dominos probably doesn’t have the best pizza in the world but for someone who wants pizza delivered quickly to their homes, they are doing a great job.
3. Is there an unmet need?
Other than focusing on what’s already available, pay close attention to the things that are not immediately apparent. These are areas where there are severe unmet needs but nobody is doing anything about it because they don’t see it.
Look for gaps in the market in your industry. What are you hearing a lot of people complain about that a solution is not yet available in the market? Or if the solution is already available, isn’t very good?
By focusing on needs in the market you will find many opportunities to serve the unserved. Most of the time you will find that serving these unmet needs will bring you better rewards than getting on the same bandwagon as everyone else.
Remember, you don’t have to be the best in the world
Zappos doesn’t have the best and most expensive shoes. Dominos doesn’t have the best pizzas. But they are both serving their customers very well and doing great business-wise.
You don’t have to be perfect to be unique. Perfection isn’t compulsory. However, you must strive to serve your customers best.
What does this mean?
This means you must understand how they are currently served and how you can serve them better. What do they like and don’t like about their current service provider? Can you do more of what they like and change the things they don’t like?
By deeply understanding their pains, your solutions become truly unique to their problems – something they can find nowhere else and from no one else.
After Deciding Your USP: Let your customers know (branding, marketing)
Once you have decided on your USP, it’s important to let everyone know what it is.
Remember, it’s not useful for you to decide on your USP but not tell anyone about it.
Make your USP a highlight on any branding materials you have. Talk to everyone about it. Repeating your message over and over again helps the message to stick in your customer’s heads. It also makes it easy for them to tell their friends about your business.
By making your USP clear and messaging it to the customers often, they will be able to share it with everyone they meet – helping with your marketing efforts.
If you are thinking about building a new business, it’s worth your time to think about your USP. Your USP will be the difference between building a business that attracts loyal fans and building a business nobody cares about.
Though there are many ways to decide on your USP, it’s worth to think about who your competitors are and how they are providing services to the customers you want to serve. Better yet, look at unserved markets and unserved needs. What are pains many people are experiencing but nobody is spending enough time building solutions for?
USP is not only about being able to offer better services technically. It can also be about how you package and deliver these services to your customers. By knowing how you can uniquely solve your customers problems, you can easily set yourself apart from the noise.
Once you have decided on your USP, you must make the message loud, clear and present in your customers’ lives. This will make your marketing efforts much more seamless.