No Unique Selling Proposition (USP), Can Branding Help?

September 30, 2013 | Branding

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Being unique is not always possible.

Many marketers or business coaches will tell you that having a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is key to differentiating your company, business or product in the marketplace. It’s hard to say that you’re the “best” at anything when there is nothing to distinguish you or your services.

Yet, many businesses suffer from not having a USP. Professional services businesses such as CPAs, lawyers, consultants and financial planners often struggle the most.

I frequently hear: “There is nothing unique about my business.”

These are fields where clients are looking for someone who follows the rules. Rarely are people looking for a tax preparer that stands out and does things tremendously different than anyone else. In your city or town there are probably many other people who do essentially the same thing. So how does someone in a business like this position and market themselves?

Personal branding in professional services

Many of these business rely on what we used to refer to as “reputation” and is often now called the “personal brand” of the owners and partners. Lawyers, CPAs, financial planners and consultants often get the majority of new work from referrals and in-person networking. It is their primary way to find new clients. Therefore, your Unique Selling Proposition becomes your specific experience and qualifications you bring to the table.

You do not need to convince people your work is completely different (ie unique) from anyone else in the field. You only have to convince them that you are a great choice for the prospect.

While you may be relying on personal referrals to generate leads, many of those potential clients will check out your web site. Your web site needs to act as an affirmation that they are making a good choice. Make sure that your headshot (professional photo) is taken by a high-quality photographer and your bio is well-written. Your web site can be simple, but it needs to be professional looking.

Going beyond personal branding

As I just suggested, more and more people go online to check out a company before committing to working with them. Sometimes the web site is the hurdle that stops someone from deciding to reach out with a phone call or email.

Many service professional make the mistake of not investing in a professional and memorable brand identity. Logos and marketing materials can seem like fluff. Without a unique logo or well-designed web site, it is difficult for prospects to remember and connect with your brand.

Repeatedly connecting your brand with a potential customer helps people to come to recognize and trust you, especially in businesses with long sales cycles. So creating and executing a memorable brand identity is probably more of an important investment than it initially seems.

2 comments

  1. Dan Knauf | October 16, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Great points. I’ve seen a lot of brands try too hard to express their unique selling proposition in their logo and visual brand identity which isn’t always easy or appropriate. Having a unique logo is still important, but it’s more to reinforce that “intangible” USP than to communicate it directly. Good stuff!

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