What Is a Unique Selling Proposition

What is a Unique Selling PropositionWhat is a Unique Selling Proposition?

I'll tell you a secret: most people get this wrong.

They think it's about themselves.

Or even worse, they think it's about price.

Throw that thinking out right now. Neither your thinking nor your price should be in your USP.

What Is a Unique Selling Proposition: Not What You Think

Huh? I can hear you asking. But how are we supposed to be different?

Therein lies the rub. Your USP isn't about what you think or value. It's about what your market, your prospects and your customers, believe and value. What is a Unique Selling Proposition is what they value.

I'll give you an example.

I once worked for an IT firm. And that company is owned by a man who has solid IT experience. His name is Tom. Tom and the team are competent. And they focus on database-driven custom applications for colleges--student record management, course delivery, that sort of thing. But that is NOT why many of his postsecondary customers bought and continue to buy.

At that job I learned something of interest: the secular colleges in North America (and it's probably true elsewhere, but I don't know for certain) were typically founded with a religious core. The Deans and senior staff of these central colleges are often deeply religious...and there is frequently a religous studies school in the midst of the university.

The secret: prior to switching to business and IT, Tom had studied--and still studies--the holy orders. He was quite close to becoming a priest-academic himself.

So whether he makes a point of it or not, theology-talk is almost certainly going to come up with the decision makers at these colleges. They are going to find out about it.

The senior college staff immediately regard Tom as One of Us.

Answering the Question of What Is a Unique Selling Proposition for You

Now THAT is a "killer USP." How many theologically-trained IT pros do you know? Whether Tom chooses to make use of this fact or not, it does allow him easier entree to these college projects than other equally competent IT firms are permitted.

So again, note it's not what Tom values that makes up his USP. It's what his market values.

Now how do you answer the question of What is a Unique Selling Proposition? Your USP does not have to be earth-shattering. It doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't even have to be particularly unique! But it does have to make you perceived as at least slightly different in your prospect's eyes: something that makes you stand out just a little bit or a whole lot more. This is how you get the conversation. This is how you get rid of the price objection.

How do you find out what this is?

Go to your past customers. Do it in person or over the phone--email is too easily ignored. Ask them to think back to when they first chose to work with you: what was it that made them decide you were the one they wanted?

You should see answers that match up. They will tell you what is a Unique Selling Proposition...to them.

If you don't have customers yet, it's going to be tougher. Even calling some representatives of your market and asking isn't likely to get to the truth--because they may not even be consciously aware of where their preferences sit, or that whatever makes you special in their eyes is even an option. But careful study of your market should reveal an answer. Tom's USP isn't so crazy you could never come up with it. If you found out about the religous center of secular universities, and matched that up with Tom's theological background, it wouldn't take an Einstein to figure out what to do next.

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