Unique Selling Proposition (USP) gets tossed around a lot in marketing. It’s also the thing that gets so many people stumped.
You can’t just look around you to find your USP. You can’t use canned copy to talk about your USP – how unique can you be when you sound like everybody else?
You know you want to stand out… but how?
Before I reveal two deceptively simple ways to help you stand out and get more clients by tapping into what you didn’t want to be in high school… (being a misfit geek)
… a little fun factoid on “Unique Selling Proposition” – turns out I’ve been living with “it” for over 10 years.
My husband has a little antique chair he has since childhood. The daughter of the dude who invented the term Unique Selling Proposition gave it to him.
Kind of interesting now that I do a lot of work with my clients on defining and owning their unique positioning! Maybe it’s osmosis.
Now another piece of throwback:
I had kind of a split identity thing in high school.
I was in the “cool girl” crew, yet there was always an inner geek in me that never completely fit in.
I cared more than I wanted to let on. I remembered everything about everyone but in order to look “cool,” like “I’ve so many friends how do you expect me to remember what you did last week?” I learned not to show it.
There was always a streak of anger in me that got riled up and wanted to sit at the corner, sulk and rant. But I was too busy putting up a façade to allow the anger to run its course and articulate my opinion.
Twenty some odd years later, that inner geek is still here. Turns out letting it out of the bottle has been good for business:
1. Channel Your Geek for Client Care & Acquisition
The cool ones pretend they don’t care. They pretend they’ve so many friends that they don’t give a crap about anyone.
The geek remembers everything and brings you exactly what you said you want for your birthday. Even if he had to do the uncool thing like, visiting 5 stores to track it down.
If you’re here, I bet you’re selling something more than “commodity.” You probably provide services, such as coaching, healing or consulting, of a highly personal nature. (Or maybe you’re selling physical products, but something that embody a message beyond the “stuff.”)
Your clients feel vulnerable in such relationships. They need to TRUST you enough to open up and work with you.
TRUST happens between one human being
and another human being.
Trust cannot be automated.
Trust doesn’t happen when you isolate yourself on a pedestal and hoping this autoresponder or that funnel will get you a premium private client without lifting a finger.
Someone who purchases a $17 ebook can very well turn into a $5,000 client, if you continue the conversation and build the relationship.
Pay attention to people, faces and names across your mailing list, social media and customer list. E.g. Make your peeps feel warm and fuzzy by mentioning something they post on Facebook when you send them a personal note to check in.
Say hello to customers who purchased your digital products. Send them a personal email to see if they have question about your product and whether you can help with anything.
(Yeah, like, you actually copy and paste the email address, type something and hit send. People can tell automated email from personal email. Most appreciate a personal touch in this age of impersonal automation.)
Check in with potential clients you had conversations with in the past and mention specifics about those interactions. See how they’ve progressed since, and what you can do to help.
Keep tab on your correspondences. Take notes and GIVE A SHIT.
Some relationships are “slow cook.” There’re peeps whom I talked to a while back came back to work with me 1:1 when it’s the right time. Not all interactions need to end with a sale right away.
It’s people, not easy-bake oven.
Interact like a human being, not a drone clone sales funnel.
There’s no need to pretend you’re making 10,000 sales a month (if you aren’t) and you’re so damn busy that you can’t check in with your peeps like a human being (at least with a strategically selected handful.)
I’m a total geek, old school.
I reply all my emails personally, like, right away (don’t believe it? Try me.)
When your peeps reach out and know that they’re getting a response from the person they want an answer from, you lower the “barrier” erected by virtual interaction.
You build trust and relationship essential for them to further engage with you.
(C’mon, we all keep hitting “0” during those long-ass phone automation system spiels trying to speak to a live person!)
Take note on little things about past clients, potential clients, customers and “random” names on your list. Like all geeks worth her salt.
Mention these details in your correspondences. I use a simple spreadsheet to keep track. I search my email folders to make sure I get the facts straight. I give a shit about my peeps as people, not numbers.
Taking the time to give a crap is what sets YOU apart, not a sparkly sales funnel with a dozen of permutations on up-sell, down-sell and cross-sell.
2. Channel Your Angry Misfit for Unique Positioning
We often regurgitate what other people are already saying in our industry to make sure we’re not being offensive or controversial. That’s human instinct to blend in; to make sure we don’t get kicked out by our caveman tribe.
This isn’t good for marketing. You sound like everyone else and why would people want to buy your stuff or work with you?
Blending in doesn’t make economic sense. The more you sound like everyone else, the more you’d be treated as a “commodity” and the less price elasticity you can get.
How unfun is it to compete on price and price alone?
(Irony – people often come to me saying they want to stop trading hours for dollars… yet they’re regurgitating the term “hours for dollars” without really thinking how they can get out of that mode… certainly NOT by regurgitating buzzwords and phrases!)
You can’t define your positioning by just doing research either. Your positioning is uniquely YOU, and how can you define YOU just by looking at data – aka, other people’s world view?
I’ve seen people trying to define their positioning by drawing lines and plotting dots in quadrants, finding a gap and backing/squeezing themselves into it. Sounds very passive and reactive to me – what do you think?
Staying “straight and narrow” so you don’t stick out, or blending in with the cool crowd so you don’t get picked on can be good for high school survival.
But let’s get rid of that fear of being criticized now that we’ve our big boy/girl panties on.
When I help my clients who’ve struggled for years to nail their unique positioning, staying “level headed” often doesn’t work.
Really good shit comes out of their mouth when I get them super riled up. (Yeah, I can be so persistent about finding their Truth that they get annoyed and emotional. But they always thank me later ;))
When they throw caution into the wind and just tell me what piss them off – without worrying about putting what they say into marketing-kosher materials, we find the gems that define who they are and why they’re different.
Here’s ONE simple exercise to find your unique positioning without doing boring research or journaling till you turn blue.
Note down answers for these questions – don’t think too much, don’t censor. Let it all out like an angry teenage punk:
- What riles you up about your industry?
- Why are those who work with your competition aren’t getting results?
- What frustrate your peeps most about your industry and competition?
- What do you do differently that create results and avoid the frustrations?
(Some people are better at getting riled up when they speak. If that’s you, record your rant and then come back to it for the gems.)
Write down 5 – 10 titles for blog posts you’d write based on the stuff that came out of the brain dump… no fear, no doubt, no compromise.
Write them down as statements. Like they’re the truest truth for you.
Somewhere in there, somewhere, are your unique POVs.
Map those POVs back to the problem you solve and your ideal clients’ desired outcome… you get your unique positioning.
Truth – when I write this stuff I intellectualize what I do. Totally different from the magic moment when I give my clients the two paragraphs that sum up their life’s work. I can hear heart pounding and energy moving at the other end of the line. Bring your Kleenex.
Ling is an Intuitive Brainiac. Through her unique blend of Business + Marketing coaching with a Mindset + Psychic Twist, she helps the multi-talented and multi-passionate maverick solo-entrepreneurs distill ALL their big ideas into ONE cohesive Message, nail the WORDS that sell and design a Plan to cut the busywork and do what matters, through her intuitive yet rigorous iterative process born out of her Harvard Design School training and 10 years of experience in the online marketing industry.
Ling helps her clients optimize the space between individuality + originality vs. “tried-and-true” marketing so they can express their WHY unapologetically and profitably without reinventing the wheel.
Find Ling and grab her free “How to Find YOUR Winning Formula” Training Series here.