What’s your USP? Here’s an insider secret; you don’t have one.
So often when I follow other marketing blogs and download ebooks – which I do almost daily, with a voracious appetite for learning more and building my own skills, so that I can offer more to my own customers – one of the things I see repeated over and over, and which seems to have become grail in the industry, is that small businesses (particularly service providers) should find a niche.
Many business owners (or bloggers, which has become a business in and of itself where it was once a marketing tool for businesses) are encouraged to box themselves into a specific niche, ticking just one box in the wide world of interests. We are all told to find our Unique Selling Point – our USP – and to focus everything we are and do around that, so that we can become known for that one thing and build a stronger brand identity. To be one very focused kind of something.
I’m here to give you a controversial counterpoint; you have no USP. There is no USP. There are so many industries, markets and sales channels, and limiting yourself to the belief that you can only be one kind of thing to one kind of market cuts you off from other directions and potential for growth and development– and the overwhelming pressure to find a unique angle for what you’re offering in a global market can prevent you from moving forward because you’re so stuck on what that USP might be, you stop promoting yourself, in case you do it ‘wrong’.
Forcing yourself to come up with a USP leads to all kinds of aspirational nonsense jargon, with people talking about how they inspire and strive to achieve and reach for the stars and help customers to thrive – and when you actually read what people are saying, none of it means – or delivers – anything measurable.
And that’s because the people making those statements don’t believe in them either.
The focus to ‘do things the right way’ and follow all the advice means that far too many of us will commit to a mission statement and announce a USP which doesn’t translate to our audience – and we need to remember what it is we came into running a business to achieve, and who it was we initially wanted to do it for.
Rather than trying to dig a USP out of the dream, go back to the passion you began with. When you speak to people about your passion, you engage them – you light up, come alive and animated, you feel enthused and excited – those late night conversations with your best friend as you laid out the hopes and dreams you had for your future, that’s what you’re selling.
That feeling that you do this because you love it is your message – and the way you tell that story is what makes people buy into you – and buy from you.
Obviously I wouldn't advise you not to niche to some degree - you cannot be all things to all people, nor can you deliver with skills or products outside of your knowledge or skillset - but if you cut that down too far and only offer me thing, you might find yourself left with just one person who'll buy it.
For me, the passion is all about people. I’ve worked on marketing and copywriting campaigns for everything from linear actuators to neuroscience, from learning and development to local government studies on bin schedules. Some of the projects I’ve been involved with have been hugely exciting – others have been...well, local government studies about bin schedules…the topic or product itself is rarely exciting, and for many of you the product or service you’re offering is likely to be somewhere in the middle of the table; it’s not going to blow minds or change the world, but people definitely want it, as long as they know where to go.
So stop trying to convince people (and yourself) that you’ve discovered or created something pure, unique and specialised, something they absolutely can’t get from anywhere else – and come back to the passion and love; stop trying to sell what you do, and start selling yourself and the way that you do that thing.
Be your brand.
I say it all over my website and branding – and I will shout it from the rooftops every time I see people being advised to niche and find a USP; the only thing that’s unique about what you’re offering (unless you really are something really unique and specialist, in which case feel free to ignore some of this…) is you.
You are why people engage with your business. You are the relationship which connects your products or services to the people buying them. You build that relationship, you speak to the customers, your face is the one they associate with your business – so take a step back, then step up into the spotlight.
You are what you’re selling now.
And that’s about as unique as you can get.
For more advice along these lines (and more content on this same topic!) pop to my shop to buy my ebook "The A-Z of Marketing" and take a look at my brand consultation page to find out more about the most popular of my services, where I take a good hard look at what you're doing and the messages you share, and guide you through the process of identifying your brand messages and build your audience to make more sales. Contact me now to book an introductory call, and receive a free copy of the book.