Nov 26, 2012

How To Stop Struggling With Your Unique Selling Proposition

If you are in business, you will have heard people drone on about the need to have a unique selling proposition. That you need to understand what makes your business unique and stand out from the pack.

Taglines, punch lines and brand development people all start by focusing on your uniqueness. And to be perfectly blunt... this quest for identifying your "uniqueness" is actually the greatest block most businesses face when trying to market their business.

Let's start by defining the problem with the word "unique". Ask the average person on the street what the word means and you will get answers like "one of a kind", "nothing else like it" and "incomparable". So far so good.

Now ask them to think of one unique business - one that is a "one of a kind" with "nothing else like it" or "incomparable" and the conversation rapidly dries up. They stutter and stammer. They start half saying something and then trail away when you ask, "Is that really unique?"

Then ask them what makes them unique as a person, and you will find you get blank looks, the odd platitude and sudden excuses to hurry away.

No Business is 100% Unique

Realistically there is no one business that is 100% original. If we go back to ancient texts, you will find the saying "there is nothing new under the sun", so this has been a problem that has been around for a few thousand years.

Asking businesses to identify their uniqueness sets up a mental paralysis for people. Their minds go into a loop with no conclusions being drawn. Or, it creates a situation where people grab platitude answers while trying to settle their minds (just look at any dating site to see how people deal with being asked to describe themselves). Neither of these solutions really helps the situation.

This is not to say that the quest to find out what makes you different is a fool's quest and needs to be abandoned. People do want to know what makes your business different from the rest and the reason why they should buy from you.

Questions to help you work out your difference

So perhaps better questions to help you tease out your difference or essence are:

What are your strengths?
What do you do differently to other people?
How precisely do you do what you do?
What do people value about you?
What do people regularly say about you on feedback forms or testimonials?
If you asked your favourite clients to describe your business and what it does, what do they say?
What value do you add to other businesses?
What do businesses or people feel after they have worked with you?
Do they get the same feeling and value from all parts of your business, or do different parts create different results?

These gentler questions prompt thought and answers, rather than paralysis.

Try to consider both your view of the world as well as your client's viewpoint. Often a person from the outside looking in will highlight blind spots or hidden gems that you were not aware of.

The bottom line is the word "unique" is a rocky shoal upon which many marketing efforts have floundered. Stop trying to be unique and find your difference or essence instead. These are calmer and easier waters in which to sail.

Ingrid Cliff is a Brisbane copywriter and the Chief Word Wizard of Heart Harmony - her writing services studio that helps put your business into words. Visit her website for a free copy of " Copywriting Secrets: Seven Secrets of Compelling Copy and Powerful Words".

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