Most of us sell our products or services in a highly competitive market. Which means it’s really important to have a unique selling point (USP) that differentiates you from your competition.
When you’re trying to work out your USP you need to ask: What do I have that my competitors don’t? Whether it be a skill set, an experience base, or you serve a market that others don’t, you need to identify how you provide unique value.
I have recently decided to offer my skills and services primarily to associations.
My USP is that I have more than twenty years experience of helping associations with marketing, communication and social media, therefore I know firsthand that they are constantly challenged and frustrated by how to better recruit, retain and engage with members.
This makes me uniquely placed to help them improve their communication and social media strategy and skills. Some market research has also shown me that few others are working in this space, and even fewer with the marketing qualifications, and the depth and breadth of experience I have.It's important to have a unique selling point (USP) that differentiates you from your competition Click To Tweet
Why is it important to have a USP?
In a crowded market, your USP helps you stand out – like a lighthouse on a foggy night. OK, maybe not the best analogy, but hopefully you get the picture.
Once you’ve worked out your USP, make sure you tell people! Via your website, your pitch, your business proposals, on the packaging of any products, promotional messaging etc.
How do you find your USP?
Unfortunately, most USPs don’t leap out and shout “HERE I AM!!”. The more homogenous the market you work in, the harder it can be to find. I found mine by talking to colleagues who knew my skill set – they helped me identify my point of difference, and the market I should focus on. Questions you should ask are:
- What do I stand for? What is my purpose? What is my why?
- Who is my ideal target market?
- Who else works in this space?
- What differentiates me from my competitors? What do you offer that they don’t? Often it’s helpful to ask your customers why they chose you over a competitor
- What do people say when they talk about my products or services?
- What’s the real reason people buy from you? Hint: it’s rarely based on price
Some examples of brands with strong USPs
One of my favourite businesses right now is Hand Sourced. Yes, it’s run by my beautiful friend Shirley, but that’s not the point. She is extremely clear on her USP which is:
We work for, with and beside Australia’s small, sustainable farmers and producers who excel in the management of endangered, rare and heritage pigs, sheep, cattle, and poultry. We supply only high end, premium and niche market produce sourced from Australia’s own. We place particular emphasis on supporting Australian farmers and growers who have made a commitment to promoting sustainable farming and manufacturing processes.
It’s a bit wordy, but what it boils down to is this: Real food from real farms for real people.
The USP varies slightly for her three target markets – chefs, farmers and home cooks – but the main ethos is if you eat meat, are concerned about where it comes from, and want to buy from someone who respects the whole animal, then you need to go to Hand Sourced. [Please note: Shirley may or may not be giving me some of her spectacular bacon in return for saying that!]
Another brand I love is Sommerlad Poultry (and yes, Shirley introduced them to me, Hand Sourced is the exclusive distributor in Queensland).
Did you know that nearly all Australian free range, organic and pastured chicken producers ‘buy-in’ one of two strains of chickens? Either ‘Ross’, imported from Scotland or ‘Cobb’, imported from America. This means that the sister of your expensive and carefully chosen organic chicken could be the one served up at KFC? No? I didn’t either until recently. An exception to this is the Sommerlad chicken.
My interpretation of their USP is:
Sommerlad birds are the only heritage-breed meat chickens grown in commercial quantities available in Australia. Bred with heritage genetics, traditional free range pasture rearing and whole grain feeding, the flavour of a Sommerlad chicken is unlike any other available in this country.
It is this uniqueness that has Australia’s top chefs clamouring to buy. And I can tell you from experience, once you’ve eaten a Sommerlad bird, it’s hard to go back to the supermarket varieties. And the leftover bones make an incredible stock, perfect for the best chicken soup you will ever eat. SO YUM! But I digress…
Identifying your USP can be hard work and take time. But it’s well worth the effort, as it will definitely help you focus your business offering once you know it.
What’s your USP?