Say cheese,” says the person behind the camera.
And you say cheese. Your facial muscles are frozen. You have a dumb, goofy look. And under your breath you're muttering, “C'mon Take the picture, take the picture, c'monnnn!”
Click! You blink. The picture's been taken.
And then the photographer runs across to you, all excited to show the nice digital photo. You take a look, you roll your eyes. You cringe. Because you just detest the photo.
It looks artificial. It looks posed. It's not you. It looks like all those ‘cheesy' pictures you've seen before.
It's not unique.
How can it be unique? You weren't yourself!
And that's the whole problem with uniqueness. You've tried too hard. In your business you've tried to your darndest to get your own uniqueness. And you've failed miserably. Because you froze.
And the uniqueness you sought to find, looked like the cheesy picture in the third paragraph.
When asked about your uniqueness, you mumble something like ‘service or quality,' which means nothing to most people.
The funny thing is that Sarah had the same problem
You see, Sarah has a yoga class. And a yoga class is a yoga class, right? Sarah twisted her brain like a pretzel, but she just couldn't come up with a form of uniqueness.
So she did what all the experts recommended.
She asked her clients. And some of them shrugged. Some of them gave her mixed answers. And that left Sarah more confused than ever before.
Then she did what most businesses do. She gave up. She figured her business would just remain a commodity. To hell with the uniqueness. Trying to find what was unique was too hard.
You see Sarah was asking the wrong question
She was trying to look inward. Because the question isn't: What's unique about my business? But rather “What do I *want to do* in my business that's different from everyone else?”
Let me explain.
I asked Sarah what she'd want to achieve for her students most of all? Her response was lightning quick and I backed up two steps at the speed and ferocity of the answer.
“Injury,” she said. “You can really hurt yourself in a yoga class if you're doing the wrong thing. I want every student to have Injury-Free Yoga.”
Tum..dee..dum. Can you see it? Sarah couldn't see it. Her uniqueness was *Injury-Free Yoga.* Plain and simple.
What do I *want to do* in my business that's different from every one else? What do you want to do that's different in your business? What's your dream for your customer?
Ask Tom Monaghan, founder Dominos Pizza
Today you take quick pizza delivery for granted. But if you zapped your way back to the swinging, hey-groovy seventies, you'd grow old just waiting for a pizza.
You'd call a pizza place. You'd ask, “Can you deliver?” And about seventy-nine hours later, you'd be still tapping your fingers waiting for the pizza guy to arrive.
Tom Monaghan did what Sarah did. He couldn't find anything unique about his business, so he invented his uniqueness.
He worked out how to get a pizza to his customer in 30 minutes or less. And then he came up with Dominos now historic slogan. Dominos Pizza. In 30 Minutes or It's Free!
Yup, the pizza man invented his uniqueness.
Are you getting the point?
You can't find uniqueness. It's easier trying to touch your tongue to your nose (Don't try that! I know you will. :))
The uniqueness has to be invented. Here's how you do it. You look at your business like you were a monarch surveying his kingdom.
And then make this big, warm wish for your royal subjects. If you could, what would you do differently?
Then do it. And once you've got the swing of things, announce your uniqueness to the world.
Ah, but hang in there a second…
Once you've decided what you want to do better than anyone else, survey the neighbourhood. Does any other competitor do the same? And does your competition stress their uniqueness?
If the answer to both those questions is No, then go right ahead and proclaim this uniqueness to your customers. It doesn't matter if your competitor does the same thing. If you're the first one to announce it, you own it.
If you don't believe me, ask Cindy Russell
Cindy Russell runs 9 seconds-A search engine optimisation firm in Tampa, Florida. So what's sooooo different about a search engine optimisation company?
Simple. Cindy invented her uniqueness.
Her proposition is simple. If you're a real estate agent in Milwaukee, she won't work with another real estate agent in Milwaukee. She'll work with a real estate agent in New York — that's ok. But she won't have two real estate agents scrapping it out for top search engine rankings in one geographical area.
Now that makes Cindy different. Her customers know their privileged information stays privileged with Cindy. They realise the advantage of working with someone who has the integrity to pass up instant income for client secrecy. And they're willing to pay more to get Cindy's enhanced service.
Cindy's onto a good thing with her self-created uniqueness.
Oh, oh hang on…Having a point of uniqueness isn't enough
Once you do get your uniqueness going, you've gotta blah, blah, blah it to the rest of the world. Keeping it hidden on page six, paragraph seventy three, isn't going to help you one little bit.
Most businesses know their uniqueness. They'll even tell you their point of difference in a conversation. Yet, you won't find it on the front page of their web site. It's swept under the carpet in their brochures and newsletters. When they stand up to speak, they forget to make it an important part of the spiel.
If you look at the bottom of our newsletter, you'll find the uniqueness. It says: A real newsletter – Not a disguised ad.
That's what we decided to achieve. It's our own invention.
Get your uniqueness where it can be seen on a consistent basis. Not hidden under a bushel.
In Conclusion: You too can create your own uniqueness
If you've been frozen so far, un-freeze that cheesy slogan. Be who you want to be. You're different. You know it. Now let the world know about your point of difference too.
Examples of Unique Selling Propositions
(All invented by the way)
a) Subway – Subs with under 6 grams of fat.
b) Federal Express – When it Absolutely, Positively Has To Be There Overnight®
c) Dominos Pizza – 30 Minutes or it's FREE!
d) Real Estate Agent- Specialises in Just 250 Homes in the Milford Area.
e) 9 Seconds.com – Search Engine Positioning without geographical conflict of interest.
f) Video Easy – Get it first, or get it free. (Note: They're talking about getting videos when you walk into the store.)
g) Biz Tactics.com – Marketing Books you can read in 30 Minutes or less.
h) Hardware Store – Only 3% Markup on wholesale prices
i) Law Firm – House Conveyancing for a flat fee of $1000. No hidden costs.
j) Indian Restaurant – 100 Dishes to choose from if you don't fancy butter chicken.
k) Herbal Smoke Away – Money back if you don't give up smoking in just 7 days.
Akash Sharma says
Again a great sub with great delivery, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on USPs and I think P should be for propositions instead of points in the universal definition as well.
There are certain products and services about which people think that they will remain as they are and its very difficult to site the unique spot.
But I think form sales to customer service there a lot of factors involved no matter what business you are into and any of these can be revitalized to make them remarkable.
As someone who has struggled to define the USP of my I.T startup (you will find my attempts on quite a few threads at 5000bc), I find that this article expands on what I first found in the revised version of Brain Audit.
Thanks, once again, for all the knowledge that you share.
If there is anyone new to Psychotactics reading this article, all I can say is that this nugget of wisdom about USP being what you ‘want to do’ for customers that’s different from others is worth thousands, if not millions of dollars in business.
And, no, I am not exaggerating or paid by Sean to sing his praises.
Kevin In Nova Scotia says
Sean, I’ve noticed you use humour including several silly photos of yourself as part of your brand … am I correct? Can’t this hinder a Consultant being taken seriously even in a field where ‘Creativity’ is suposedly valued? Can this alone be a USP?
I’ve read your Picasso references on intuitive idea people etc but how does one sell that..I use a few different photos too but have wondeed if it is severing me as well as I hope but I do stand out..amongst my vanilla peers….esp. on serious networking sites andalso with clients ho suspect creativty and expression as too ‘out there’ for them.
Many thanks from Canada.
Your off the wall and grounded thoughts would be appreciated.
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Darren Lunn says
Interesting insights in the reference stories. I was also reading some insight recently on not just the things that you “do” that make you unique, but also the things that you “don’t do”.
I guess that comes under your heading of looking at your competition. But, I’ve also read that you can derive uniqueness from the things that you don’t do, which your competition also currently does not do?
Do you have a view on that Sean? Or should we stick to the things that we do do (if you get my meaning..)
Sean D'Souza says
That’s an angle I haven’t thought of, darren
Sean D'Souza says
Everything you do is a matter of perception. e.g. If you’re a superhero, do you have to wear underpants on the outside? No you don’t. Though you’ll struggle to find any superheroes (in the comics) who don’t wear underpants, it’s possible to be a superhero without them.
The humour and the “silly” photos become part of the brand on my site, but they’re nestled amongst rock-solid articles. In that case, the quirkiness becomes acceptable. If the content was just quirky and the photos quirky, then it wouldn’t work at all.
The uniqueness comes from the tone, but also needs to be backed up with solid content. You can put on any quirks you like, if you deliver the goods. Quirkiness alone will make you stand out and it’s a good idea. But you need to also be respected for your information, otherwise you’ll just be disregarded as quirky.
e.g. In our book, The Brain Audit, which is a marketing book, we have Chicken curry recipes and 99 cartoons. That makes is quirky.When was the last time you saw a chicken curry recipe in a marketing book? But the content is solid. And that’s what matters. And then from the hundreds of books you read, you’ll remember The Brain Audit because it stands out for its quirks and content.
Laura Roeder says
Excellent post, I may finally have a tagline for my sadly tagline-less website!
Another huge mistake I see lots of people making lately is choosing a totally arbitrary USP. I wish I could tell you some of the crazier ones I’ve seen but I don’t want to name any names! Basically they are stuff like “I used to like the carwash when I was a kid so I’m going to call myself The Carwash CPA! And use carwash analogies for all my services!”
Sean D'Souza says
There are nuts everywhere 😉
Sean D'Souza says
Laura: let us know what it is. 😉
Darren, I guess if you derive uniqueness from the things that you don’t do it will be OK if you cautch attention of your customers using PROBLEM. Just avoid “NOTs”…
Am I right, Sean. Did I understand your idea in Brain Audit correctly?
Sean D'Souza says
Yup thats right.