Discovering your unique selling proposition

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performance indicatorIn some respects Unique Selling Propositions are easy to develop.  A good  USP need not require a significant financial investment or additional resources to develop.  As well, it can encompass virtually any aspect of your business and its relationship with current and potential clients.

However, this simplicity belies the more complex challenges underneath the surface because your USP, to be successful, will depend on qualities which could transcend the obvious.  So the examples I’m giving here are only clues — you need to find out what works best for you.

Geographical focus

This can be finely tuned and works especially well for very small businesses or ones which cover a defined sector.  I’m sure you can guess the USP of Ottawa Construction News, certainly the only publication and website serving the Ottawa, Canada region.  While Ottawa isn’t a huge city by international standards, the building permit activity here is around $2 billion a year — so I suppose the market is large enough to support a regional publication.

If you are a plumber, electrician or drywaller and you are absolutely focused on a specific market area, your USP can certainly be geographical.

Specialization focus

The more specialized you are, the wider the geography you can cover.  Specialization can be a sub-set of an established discipline.  If you focus only on plumbing for restaurants and food service establishments and truly are an expert in these areas, go for it.

Service focus

Please, no “great customer service” lines.  But, “we’ll be there in 20 minutes or less, 24/7″ is a valid USP if you can deliver.

Price focus

This one is usually deadly.  “We have the lowest prices, and mean it” might work, but I wouldn’t want to be in that business unless I have a way to keep the cost structures so low that the next question arises, if we simply charged a little more, wouldn’t our margins be a whole lot better.

Passion focus

This is a harder one to pin down but could be highly effective if your passions and interests match a distinguishable market.  As an example, I’m passionate abut great journalism.  This may seem a hard sell when it comes to marketing advertising for regional construction publications, but the message certainly gets through to some key influencers who see how our journalistic standards can get the attention of political and community leaders.  And these relationships lead to profitable business.

USPs by their very nature are unique.  You can have more than one and you can have different sets for different market segments (but be careful about spreading yourself too thin).  You can combine things to create a catchy phrase or market jingle, but that isn’t the core of a great USP — it is the substance and heart behind the quality and your ability to communicate it to your market, both existing and potential clients.

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