At the heart of your professional brand – whether business or personal – is your unique selling point. It is what sets you apart from the rest of the pack, giving you roaming rights and ownership of your target audience.
Far too many businesses are blind to the necessity of the USP, often promoting themselves with a “quality, professional, friendly, fast” mentality that screams “me too”. If this sounds familiar then it’s probably a case for a deep analysis of who you are vs. who your competitors are.
And don’t be fooled thinking that you don’t have a competitor. Even if you’re trying to brand yourself for a better career opportunity you have a competitor.
Your USP is something that:
- Sets you apart from others like you – it makes you different from competitors
- It tells your target audience or customer exactly what you intend to offer
- Clearly states to your audience or customer why you are better than your competitor
If you’re using the “me too” approach to highlight “quality, professional, friendly, etc.” then you’re saying the same thing everyone else is saying. If you’re a web developer & marketer and your pitch is that you can get the phones ringing..and that’s it… then you’re a “me too” without a USP to snuggle.
Business Branding: Price as a USP
Only one business in a particular market can have the lowest price available. If you’re considering this approach then ask yourself if “Low cost” and “low profit per sale” sounds good when interchanged. It’s an unhealthy USP because not everyone buys the cheapest thing available – many are turned off by the concept. Think about it – how often do you buy solely based on the price?
Embracing a Better USP for your Professional Brand
You should work hard to put out a message that doesn’t sound like the guy next door. If you’re both screaming “Fresh Fish!” there’s no incentive to choose you over the other guy. But if he is screaming “Fresh Fish!” and you’re shouting “Widest Variety of Fresh Fish Available for 30 miles!” then you will grab more attention hands down.
People can relate to a more targeted USP that makes you stand out
Finding your USP
The trick is to identify why someone would buy from you rather than from a competitor. If you have an established target audience, you could poll them directly and ask them what they find your strengths to be – why they choose you, why you stand out, etc.
Likewise, you can also use an alternative approach by listing everything you offer or bring to the table. Next to those offerings you need to qualify it with “which means that”. This converts your offering into a USP. If you can create multiple USP for a specific offering, even better.
If you want to push ahead, do the same for your competitors. See what truly sets you apart and you’ll see your USP. You may even uncover their weaknesses which gives you another opportunity to improve on your own brand image.