Build your Business: What’s your Unique Selling Proposition?

Here’s how to identify it.

One of the greatest marketing challenges facing rental centers is standing out in the crowd of rental options customers have. In marketing speak, this is known as the unique selling proposition, or USP.

Corbett Barr, CEO at Fizzle, a company that’s committed to offering business and marketing advice to start-ups and established companies, shares how companies can identify their USP and capitalize on it. 

“Deciding on a USP is possibly the most important decision you can make about your business,” Barr says. “If you make your business stand apart from the crowd, everything you do will be easier. Customers will be easier to come by. Adoring fans will gladly spread the word about what you do because they love it. 

“On the other hand, if you don’t develop an effective USP, building an audience or getting any customers to pay attention to you will be a constant struggle,” he says.

What is a Unique Selling Proposition?
Also known as a unique market proposition, it’s not about selling; it is about differentiation. “Your unique selling proposition is what makes your business stand out. It’s what makes you different and earns you a special place in the minds of your potential customers.

“I like to think of your overall USP as your reason for being. Think about it from your customer’s point of view. With tens or hundreds of potential options out there, you have to answer the question, “Why should I buy from you?” If you don’t answer that question quickly, your potential customers will move on,” he says.

Having a great product is probably not enough of a difference to make your business stand out. In most markets, having a great product is just the price of admission.

“When you’re small, it’s hard to compete on product or content quality alone. You need to change the conversation. Instead of screaming ‘Hey, look at me, I have great stuff too,’ you want to confidently say, ‘Hey, I’m all about X, we do things differently. If you’re into X, we’re the only place you can get it.’”

That’s the power of a unique selling proposition. You want to be the best at something, but you can make it far easier if you define your competitors yourself.

How to find your Unique Selling Proposition
There are many approaches to identifying your USP. “Your USP might end up being a combination of things. There’s no one right answer and depending on what business you’re in, even a small amount of differentiation could lead to a much greater shot at success,” he says. Think about these ideas that can help establish your USP:

Use your personality. If you’re running a very small business or the primary owner of your business, sometimes your personality alone can be a powerful difference. “But you need a personality that resonates to pull this off. By putting your personal stamp on many aspects of your business, you create something no one can directly compete with; there is only one you, after all.”

Explore the intersection of ideas. Interesting things happen at the intersection of ideas and plenty of ideas haven’t been combined before. “Think about the topic your business is about, and what you could add to the mix to make it more interesting and unique. It doesn’t require inventing something new, just combine two things you already know about,” Barr says.

Narrow your target audience. Another technique that is easy to pull off is choosing a narrow target audience who has never had a business like yours cater specifically to it. 

“Think about this from the customer’s standpoint. If you were a dentist and needed help with online marketing, wouldn’t you be inclined to choose the business that specializes in dentists?”

Specializing in a narrow market segment makes promotion easier. “You know which conferences dentists go to and where they hang out online, which makes it easier to target them,” Barr says. For example, construction contractors tend to belong to professional associations, such as Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) or Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and often are members of local or regional chambers of commerce.

Narrow your scope. You may also consider narrowing your scope, specializing in one particular aspect of rental and sales. “As an example, instead of being an auto mechanic, become an auto mechanic who specializes in American-made electric vehicles.”

When creating a USP, managers might be concerned that a tighter focus could leave out some potential customers. “It’s a natural tendency to want to please everybody. But when you try to please everybody, you end up pleasing no one. The goal of your USP will be to connect more strongly with some people, and not so much with others. This is what you want because when you connect strongly with a smaller audience, your influence can spread much more quickly,” Barr says.

Branding, design and messaging
Once you’ve developed a unique selling proposition, your job is to communicate it clearly and often. That’s the role of branding, design and messaging. A great name, tagline and design can tie the concept of uniqueness together.

“Developing a USP isn’t a one-time decision. You have to constantly remind people of what you stand for. Tell them in no uncertain terms on a regular basis why your business is different.”

Being unique is an important marketing strategy, but beware of being unique for its own sake. “Your unique selling proposition only works when you’re addressing some demand. 

“Being unique also requires clarity. If the unique selling proposition you come up with takes someone minutes or hours to understand, it probably won’t be effective,” he says. 

This article appeared in the November-December 2017 issue of Pro Contractor Rentals magazine. Copyrighted--all rights reserved.