Everyone who has ever read a book or blog about sales and marketing, tried to break into a new industry, or really heard anything about the best way to run a business will have heard about the importance of USPs.
USP stands for Unique Selling Point and essentially means that every business needs SOMETHING to make them stand out against the crowd.
If I asked you, right now, “What makes your business different?”, what would be your answer?
It can be a difficult question and something that is often hard to put into words. But most people will be able to list a few USPs and also the areas where they’ve had the most success.
But are these actual differences – are you really THAT different from your competitors?
The most illuminating way to find out, to me anyway, is to ask your customers why they decided to go with you rather than your nearest competitor. Find out what they think makes you different. Trust me, it can be eye opening.
For example, if Burger King asked you what made them different to McDonalds, what would you say?
You might prefer one to the other, but at the end of the day, both serve fast food…specialising in burgers.
Speaking of McDonalds, one of the things that really stayed with me from the Ray Kroc’s account of his involvement with McDonald’s growth is when he was asked what his business did.
As you might expect, he said that they server burgers. But his investment coach corrected him and said that he was actually a property developer!
At the time McDonald’s were (and remain) one of the largest real estate owners in the US.
And this just introduces another element in the USP question.
What do you think makes you different? What do your customers think are your differences? And now we can add: what differences matter in business?
These are questions that the big brands ask themselves all the time.
Going back to Burger King, they might say that their main USP revolves around the way they make and prepare their burgers. Their customers will say that it comes down to the ability to customise their order. But in business terms, their main USP could be a lower threshold for franchise investment. (I just made that up for this article…please don’t sue me.)
You can see that there is no “single” USP that makes my fictious Burger King example special. The things that make them unique are all about who is asking the question.
And this goes for everyone
Here at OpenCRM, we are, at a high level, “just “another hosted CRM product…you have no idea how difficult it is to say that, but at one level it is true.
For some businesses, our most attractive feature is that we have a solution that can help mid-market businesses better manage the whole customer journey. So, the difference is the breadth of application and therefore its functionality in helping business achieve efficiency.
For others, it all comes down to location and personality. We are a modest sized UK business and therefore we understand the pressures of UK businesses. We’re also a nice bunch of guys and gals that you as a customer can get to know, establishing a closer relationship. And that’s a big USP for us when we come up against our larger overseas based competitors.
So, when someone asks me “tell me what makes you different” I always pause for thought.
Not because I don’t know but because I need to understand what the question means to the asker…what they’re really asking me.
So how do you know what ALL of your USPs are?
For starters, you’ll already know a lot of them. You will know WHY you wanted to start a business (or join a particular company). You’ll have a good idea where you sit within the market and how you compare to your competitors.
When it comes to discovering those “other” selling points, the best place to go (in my opinion) is direct to your customers. Through conversations, surveys, and online reviews, you will start to narrow down why they’ve decided to build a relationship with you. And stay with you.
Use this information to build on your existing marketing strategies and your business will grow…and then you’ll have even more opportunity to find out why your customers chose you.
It’s a never ending cycle.