Oh, So You Think You’re Special, Huh?

So I debated on several titles for today’s blog post, but the overwhelming amount of eye-rolling that would’ve likely ensued as a result from me using any of these runner-ups, would’ve been staggering.
“How to crush your competition.”
“How to rise up above the noise.”
“How to be compete in an oversaturated market.”
I mean, they all say basically say the same thing, but to be quite honest – these headlines are nothing new.
If you’ve been studying sales & marketing for any amount of time, or even if you’ve seen sales & marketing ads for your niche, you’ve probably seen some variations of the examples I’ve just shared with you.
At the end of the day, the main ideas are still the same:
What makes you so different and special?
Why should the customer choose you, over your competitors?
Why are you “worth it”?
The phrase that we’re looking for here, is your Unique Selling Proposition.
In the world of sales & marketing, your Unique Selling Proposition is the feature or characteristic of your product/service that sets you apart from your competitors. You need to understand that your prospects are overwhelmed with options, and they’ll want to quickly understand what makes your brand different from another. Knowing how to position yourself (aka your brand positioning) can mean the difference between standing out and blending in.
At its core, your USP should answer your prospects most immediate question when they first encounter your brand.
Does this product solve my problem?
followed by:
Does this product solve my problem better than anyone/anything else?
A compelling USP should be specific, memorable, and communicated effectively to your target audience.  It needs to be assertive, but defensible. You can’t simply tell your prospects that you’re “the best” at what you do; you’ll need to back that claim up with testimonials, case studies, and work samples to prove your case (etc, etc).
A great USP will also focus on what your target audience values. “Unique” is not a good USP, unless your target audience is indeed looking for something different, or something they’ve never seen. But even then, the term “unique” is simply too broad. If you believe you’re indeed different from everyone else – don’t simply say it, show it. Show ’em how you’re different, then proceed to knock their socks off :).
Your USP will also be more than just a slogan, or a headline. While it’s one way that your USP will be communicated, it’s got to be embodied in other areas of your business, from your email communications, to your blog copy, and even how you handle your social media. If you’re trying to market to a “light & airy” couple who’s looking for editorial vibes, and you claim that’s what you do – but you’re showing “dark & moody” photos in your portfolio and giving off emo vibes, there’s a disconnect there between your USP and what you’re actually trying to sell.

Here are some good examples of USPs for wedding photographers:

  • Fun, carefree, laugh-out-loud photography for couples who just want to have a great time, and remember this celebration for generations to come.
  • Mom & pop vibes, offering personal attention, lightning-fast response times, and non-cookie-cutter photos that represent YOU.
  • Planning your wedding day can be complex, but finding the perfect wedding photographer doesn’t need to be complicated.

Here are some terrible examples of USPs for wedding photographers:

  • Free engagement sessions with every booking!
  • Let us tell your story!
  • We capture memories, so you can relive these moments forever.
  • Unlimited coverage on your wedding day!
  • Great quality at low prices!
  • Excellence in quality & service!
  • We can customize a package that will suit your needs!
Having a weak or ineffective USP can cause potential customers to question the value of your product/service and choose your competitor instead. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to take your time to craft a compelling USP that accurately reflects the unique benefits of your business.

Here are some tips to help get you started on your USP:

  1. Research your target audience and your competitors – this will help you understand the needs and desires of your target audience and identify the solutions that are already available in the market. Remember, it’s not enough to simply be better; you’ll find more success by being different.
  2. Identify your unique advantage – Ask yourself what sets your business apart from the competition, in terms of features, benefits, and/or value proposition. If you’re ever unsure, simply ask your past customers – I can assure you that it’s got very little to do with quality or price!
  3. Craft your USP – just make sure it’s concise, memorable, defensible, and it’s consistent across your brand, from your emails, to your blogs, and even how you communicate with your customers. As I mentioned in this week’s video – it’s okay to brainstorm ideas, even the shitty ones. Somewhere in your 20 ideas is something you can use to attract your dream clients and crush your competition.
  4. Live, work, breathe your USP – put it in everything that you do, in the same way my 12 year old puts sriracha on everything. From your marketing/advertising efforts, to your copywriting, and everything that you do. It’ll help you reinforce your brand identity, and differentiate yourself from your competition.

If you’ve ever found yourself losing a customer to a cheaper competitor, or if you struggle with getting traffic or attention in the marketplace, there’s a good chance that you might have a problem with your Unique Selling Proposition. When you look at all your successful colleagues, you can rest assured that they’re seldom the loudest, quickest, most-skilled, nor the cheapest. But what they likely do exceptionally well is connect with their target audience in a meaningful way, and provide a unique solution that permeates throughout everything they do in their business and for their clients.

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