If everyone has the same USP it's not unique!

If everyone has the same USP it’s not unique!

May 2016

There’s a reason why you struggle to communicate your USP – it doesn’t exist!

The concept of the Unique Selling Point (USP) is believed to originate in the US as far back as 1940. That’s over 75 years ago, and yet the concept continues to survive and to this day it is still spouted by marketing departments, academic institutions and bad sales trainers.

It’s an outdated concept. Sure, back in the 1940s new product and service development was considerably slower so when you brought out your new product you were probably the only one offering it. Today, with the pace of change, innovation and development that no longer stands true. It’s nothing more than a piece of lazy terminology. Let’s break it down. Unique. Selling. Point.

To be ‘unique’ it must be truly that. The reality is however there is little or nothing that you do that cannot be duplicated, replicated or substituted by somebody else. It’s like all the newspapers on the news stand this morning that carry that ‘exclusive’ story. They all have the same exclusive…. which by its very definition is not an exclusive. Of course, I usually hear ‘but our people our unique’. Everybody’s people are unique.

To be a USP anything that you do that you consider to be ‘unique’ also has to be a ‘selling point’. In other words it has to be a compelling reason why someone would buy the products or services that you offer. A compelling reason – one that makes up their mind and prompts them to take an action. Not simply a nice to have but a must have.

It’s much better to think of those things that make you or your product or service offering ‘different and better’. If you discuss your USPs and the prospect recognises that someone else also offers the same USP then you lose credibility instantly. You will almost always have a credible argument that you offer something different than your competitors and a better offering at that.

To do this you have to understand the criteria on which you prospect is going to make their buying decision. When you understand that then you have a focus for your ‘different and better’ pitch – sometimes referred to as a ‘positioning statement’ (more buzz lingo!). You must demonstrate that you meet their buying criteria in a way that is both different and better than your competitors and at a price that represents value for the customer.

I have discussed this in hundreds of workshops to thousands of sales and marketing professionals and challenged each of them to give me a genuinely unique selling point. In all my days I have had only one response where I have had to concede defeat. The oldest pub in Ireland. There can be only one oldest pub (it is therefore unique) and it is indeed a reason why people travel to go there. Every other pub in Ireland has to offer something different and better.