What would your customers say about your business if asked? Is that exactly what you’d want them to say? Do your customers think your business is special? Business has always been difficult. But with increasing competition in virtually every industry and lower barriers to entry due to technology and the internet, client acquisition has never been more difficult. Several years ago I was studying sales and marketing and I read a book by the marketing guru Jay Abraham where he talked about the importance of developing a Unique Selling Proposition. Jay talked about the USP being critical in sales and marketing materials and how great businesses often get an edge by effectively developing and promoting their USP. Iconic and memorable sayings like “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight!” and “Pizza Delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free!” were cutting edge back in the day and are still great examples of what happens when a USP is effectively promoted by a business. Today, competition in every industry has become so fierce that you must separate yourself in some unique way or you’ll simply get lost amongst your competitors. And just as important, instantly expressing how you’re different in all your communications is vital—whether in person, on your website or in your marketing materials.

Effective Differentiation is Key

Prospects don’t typically come into your business consciously looking for your USP. But they do ask themselves “Why should I use you versus someone else?” If someone was considering your products or services and asked: “Why should I use you?”—would you have an intriguing, compelling and memorable differentiating answer? Most businesses don’t and that’s a problem. Because without the ability to separate yourself quickly in the mind of a potential customer, you lose both the customer and the future referrals they could provide. Additionally, many businesses make the mistake of answering the “uniqueness question” with platitudes like “we’re great at service” or “we provide high customer satisfaction.” These answers aren’t unique, they are simply common expectations customers have for all businesses.

Super-successful businesses always have something special about them, something that separates them from the competition, something that is riddled throughout the culture, something that everyone in the organization knows they stand for, something that you can recruit to, something that is referable, something that retains talent, something that creates organizational pride and something everyone defends. That something is what makes them unique. It’s the essence of leadership and it’s the responsibility of the business leader to identify and drive it deep both within their organization and their customer base.

Find Your Competitive Advantage

Developing your USP begins by deciding where your business is superior. Then you decide you’re going to get even better in that area. To develop your personal USP, begin by answering three questions: What problem do you solve? What’s your solution? How does your solution work? In one sentence, your unique selling proposition would look like this: “Do you know how (problem)? Well, what we do is (solution) by (how you do it).” Here’s an example of a USP I recently developed for our company www.refermeiq.com “Do you know how businesses and salespeople need new customers but hate to spend tons of money on advertising? Well, what we do is automate unlimited referrals without the awkwardness of face-to-face requests with ReferMeIQ.com.”

Being unique, special and different creates loyalty from your current customer base and helps you get referrals on an ongoing basis–assuming you are regularly asking with a referral system. Moreover, having an effective USP becomes the glue that holds your business together–something that employees rally around and believe in. Here is an exercise: Start paying attention to businesses and looking for what makes them unique. Is it obvious? Do you see it in their marketing materials? If you were to ask their customers or anyone in the organization what makes them unique could they answer in an intriguing and compelling way that makes you want to do business with them? If the answer is yes, they are likely getting tons of referrals and new business. That’s where you want to be. To your success!

Post author: Mike Rowan