Compared to your competition, your product or service may be quite different and significantly better. Just being different isn’t enough anymore. You must be unique to be noticed and remembered. It’s that “unique advantage” that must be promoted and leveraged in order to be rewarded. Whether you call it your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or your Unique Value Proposition (UVP); it’s what sets you apart from the competition. It is also something that clients perceive they can only obtain from you and your firm.
As an example, Apple’s USP extends beyond their products and marketing campaigns. The organization’s USP is as much, or perhaps more, about the vision and culture that Steve Jobs created and modeled for the company. In similar fashion Google promotes the creative thinking of their staff by encouraging them to spend 20% of their work week focusing on their own projects, a practice that’s delivered 50% of Google offerings, including Gmail. The USP of using non-work time to create new and innovative products has been a catalyst for the company’s innovation and growth and has attracted employees that want to work in that type of environment.
What unique advantage do you offer your clients? Is it your company’s reputation for service, your technical abilities, research facilities, collaborative approach, innovation, or the way you live your firm’s mission and core values? Whatever it is, no other company can duplicate it exactly. They may try to imitate you but they can’t be you. At first glance some competitors may appear the same but upon closer inspection they simply don’t deliver or offer what you do. If competitors are perceived to be similar, but don’t offer the quality products, service or experience you do, it’s your job to educate the market about the differences that set you apart. The difference should be important enough for your client to prefer, or even demand, your product and service over that of the competition – often at a higher price.
USP’s and UVP’s are not something you stumble upon or throw together in monthly management meetings. It requires introspection, honesty and hard work to discover and define them; a cursory glance probably won’t reveal anything of significance. Powerful and appealing USP’s are created when you study your own products or services and compare them to your competitor’s offerings and then define your value in terms of quantitative and qualitative metrics that can be parlayed into exclusive and unique selling and positioning points. Bringing in an objective third party to facilitate the process can be very helpful. Too often we can’t see the “forest for the trees” because we’ve lost our objectivity; become too personally attached to what we’re doing (because it was our idea) or simply too lazy to do the work required to change things up.
Can you provide a compelling and inspiring answer to the question “why should I deal with you?” If you can’t then you have some serious work to do. Today’s market place is not rewarding sameness. It wants innovation and originality. The process of defining your USP may take some time – but it’s worth it. When you can proclaim that you offer an important advantage and benefit that clients cannot get anywhere else, you have effectively differentiated yourself from the competition. Be bold. No one gets rewarded for taking half-steps anymore.