Why your business needs a USP yesterday

Vanessa Green
January 21, 2021

As of late, my favourite question to ask on client onboarding calls is: 'What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)*?'

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I'm pretty shocked by the number of business owners that answer either:

"I don't know."


"We don't have one."

Of course, neither of those answers is acceptable.

The modern capitalist hellscape we live in is ruthless and cutthroat, full of aggressive competitors constantly trying to undercut you and steal your customers.

OK, maybe I’m being a bit theatrical.  

But seriously, no matter what industry you're in - whether you're selling products or services, whether you're a one-man-band or a monolithic mega-corp, you absolutely must have a solid, identifiable answer to the question:

What makes you better than your competitors?

It's not low prices

Your USP is never about having the lowest prices. Or it shouldn't be. Anyone can sell what you are selling for less. And you devalue your brand by simply focusing on the cost of what you are selling.

What your USP needs to focus on is value. What value are you providing to your customers?

What if I really don't know what my USP is?

I'm going to be rude AF right now, but I would respond with:

“Then why are you in business?”

If your customers can get what you're selling literally anywhere else and there would be no discernible difference in their experience or the service they receive, then what could possibly be motivating you to keep doing what you are doing every day?

OK, that was rude. I don't want to play anymore.

OK, sorry. Time out. *HUGS*

But it is a legitimate question. Think about why you love doing what you do. Is it because you love creating connections with your customers and clients? Is it because you are passionate about the industry you're in? Is it because you love making money? (Alright, probably don't use that last one).  

Think really really hard about it. Then think harder.

Words are just words are just words

Alright, so you think you've got a USP. That is wonderful. High fives, all around.

Now, prove it.

Talk is cheap, and words are words are words (and I’m saying that as someone who writes for a living). If you really want to make an impact with your brand positioning, show - don't tell -  your audience how you live and breathe your USP.

Here’s an example.

While working on website copy for a client who runs a transportation company, I asked him the USP question.

He said that their company was obsessed with managing every single part of their client's transportation projects from start to finish.

I said, 'OK, and how do you do that better than your competitors?'

He said that while their competitors outsource the administrative side of these projects, their company manages everything in-house. They want the best quality results, and they want more control over the work being done, so they never use third parties.

They have in-house experts for permitting, customs and cargo storage. It's a cost to the company, and it would be easier to get clients to do this work themselves, but they are committed to providing a premium level of service that they can’t get anywhere else.

Money, meet mouth.

You can't sell yourself if you don't know why you're selling

From a marketing perspective, it's almost impossible to write about a company if it doesn't have a USP. I might as well write, 'We sell a thing. Money, please.'

If you are a passionate and motivated business owner, you will have a key differentiator; it might just be hidden away.

Perhaps it hasn't been effectively pulled from your brainbox yet. If that's the case, I can help. I've run content strategy brainstorming sessions where I work with clients who can't answer this million-dollar question themselves.

I ask thousands of questions to really get to the core of your business and pull out these key nuggets of wisdom.

This is what one of my clients had to say about the session:

'Wow, there is a lot to chew over here. We are working through your recommendations and have taken your document into our global strategy sessions for 2021. It's really useful and goes in so many directions. Thanks again for the session.'

Once you have that brand positioning down, it's like a waterfall of content opportunities. Every single piece of content will tie back to that simple point of difference.

And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

*replace with competitive advantage, point of difference, etc. Whatever floats your boat.

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