Developing Your Unique Selling Proposition

April 17th, 2015   •   no comments   

Unique photo

Courtesy of Branketing.com

What is your Unique Selling Proposition? How do you create a dent in the Universe?

Many of us are familiar with the concept of the Unique Selling Proposition or USP. According to Entrepreneur magazine, the USP is defined as…

The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.

In the world of business, a USP can be anything from being the cheapest “big box” retailer around (Wal-Mart), most customer friendly online store (Zappos), or having the coolest and best designed digital devices (Apple).

What about you? Have you considered what your unique and invaluable gift to the world is?

If you’re not sure – like many of us are – consider this 3-step process to creating your personal USP.

1) Conduct a Personal Brand Audit

The first thing you need to do is to distill the essence of your personal brand. What are the building blocks which make up the brand known as YOU?

Here, there are several ways to do so:

Google Your Name

Yes, I know that we all love to do that. But instead of just “Oohing” and “Aahing” over how famous you are, critically examine where your name appear.

Is that association which you have a positive one or a negative one? Would you like a future employer or business employer to see those photos of you?

Ask Family and Friends

Do a personal brand audit with your close friends and family members. Choose folks who are likely to speak the hard truth in love.

If it is difficult for them to be critical, ask them a series of questions (either in person or via email) via a peer evaluation questionnaire. Tools like Survey Monkey would come in useful for this.

Evaluate Your Life’s Work

Conduct a self study. Spend a couple of minutes looking through your resume, educational certificates, and other “hard evidence” of achievement.

Pore through your testimonial letters. Read through your published work (if any).

Consider where your greatest sources of pride and joy had been over the years, and where you felt like a fish out of water.

Do a Personal SWOT

Nope, I’m not kidding.

Just as you would do a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis for your organisation or project, you should also do likewise with your own personal brand.

What are you most strong in? Where is your Achilles Heel?

Looking ahead, which area should you focus on and which career minefields should you avoid?

2) Determine Where Your Value Lies

Now that you’ve understood who you are, and where opportunities could arise, you need to put your ear on the ground.

Read All About It

With the power of Google at your fingertips, there really is no excuse not to know what’s happening in your preferred field.

Look at what’s trending in terms of jobs, areas of specialisation, and market demand. If you’re predisposed towards entrepreneurship, study where the growth sectors and industries relevant to where your USP is likely to be.

Talk To Industry Insiders

If you can, find a way to get under the skin of veterans in the business.

Request for a time to interview them. Learn as much as you can about the dynamics of the trade: the skills needed, challenges, power relationships, and other key considerations in the business.

Poll Your Prospects

Now this can be tricky, but it pays dividends if you pull it off well. Regardless of whether you are looking for a job or starting a business, it is always good to ask your customers what they want.

Polling your prospects could be as bold as asking the HR Director of your desired firm on the qualities that they look for in a candidate. Wanna-preneurs should also do a market survey to determine the potential of a new niche.

3) Carve Out a Razor Sharp Niche

OK. You’ve got your SWOT worked out, and you know now where value lies. The next important step is to focus relentlessly on providing pure and concentrated value.

Figure Out Your Game Plan

The most successful people in the world have a game plan at the back of their heads.

They don’t just shoot randomly at any target which flies by. Rather, they are precise and measured in what they do.

The best way to achieve this is to have a game plan, storyboard or script. If you achieve clarity of thought, pen it down and stick it somewhere obvious. Look at it daily as a reminder of the value that you provide.

Avoid Competitive Red Oceans

What should you do if there are numerous suitors waiting to grab that plum position, or serve that huge mass market?

Get out of it!

Don’t try to swim with the sharks if you are a goldfish! Instead, locate a “long tail” yet profitable niche market for your talent or your business. Shape your USP in a sustainable fashion in a unique arena where you can best thrive.

Test Your USP in the Market

Once you’ve selected your targeted arena, find a way to roll out your USP to test the market.

Are there ways for you to intern at your employer of choice? If you are starting a business, consider how you can build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and adopt the principles of Lean Startup to roll it out.

Swim Long and Hard

Finally, go the whole nine yards (and longer) once you’re in your zone.

Don’t hold back. Put your full self into what you do. This requires not just physical and mental dedication, but emotional and spiritual investment in your craft.

Be one with your craft. Immerse yourself so fully that it becomes an intangible part of your personal identity and brand.

Have you started developing your USP? I’d love to hear your experience.

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