Ah, the famous USP.
For the uninitiated (are there any out there?), a USP is what makes you different. Or so many people believe.
But you could be different just because you’re not very good.
No, being different implies that you are better.
I’ve lost count of the number of business people that stand up and claim they’re different just because they care about their customers, because they’re professional and good at what they do or because they have some gimmick or other.
Any old mug can say they’re different. It’s a meaningless phrase.
Being different isn’t enough.
One of the most famous and most quoted USPs in recent years is Domino’s Pizza.
The food market seems to be awash with some pretty lame USPs. You’ll hear things like “The Best Selection In Town” or “Service with a Smile”. All so 1970s.
But Domino’s identified a target market of young, hungry (and poor) students that wanted their pizza warm and were in a hurry. They promised them “Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less – or it’s free!”
It’s clear and unambiguous promise aimed at a specific target market: people who want fresh, hot pizza and to want it now.
Another oft-quoted method is to identify something that people hate about your industry and go against it.
Plumbers advertise that they will turn up on time and clean up after themselves because what do people hate about plumbers? That’s it; they’re unreliable and dirty.
I’m less sure about Less Accounting’s former USP, “All accounting software sucks, we just suck less”. If it works for them…
Do you see where we’re going here?
A USP is why people buy from you.
The better businesses are those that have identified unfulfilled or poorly fulfilled performance gaps in their markets.
Your USP is not the same as strapline – usually just a catchphrase that doesn’t mean anything.
Unless you’re Apple or any business like them, no-one will remember you because of your catchy streamline.
They will remember you because you delivered your pizza fresh and within 30 minutes or you turned up to fix the central heating on time and kept the house clean.
Your USP is the answer to that big question, remember, so saying something like “Acme Accountants… We care about you” isn’t a USP.
So, why should I buy from you?