Developing A USP For Your Tech or Specialized Service

October 5, 2015 | Branding, Positioning

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Unique Value PropositionA Unique Selling Proposition (USP), Unique Value Proposition (UVP) and an Elevator Speech are all succinct ways of explaining:

  • What your product or service does
  • The benefits of using the product or service
  • How you’re different or better than your competitors

Each is slightly different and has different uses. They are sometimes confused with one another and there is not one singular, universal definition of each.

What is an Elevator Speech?

Your elevator speech or elevator pitch is how you would summarize your business in the brief amount of time it takes to ride an elevator. This is a 10-second introduction aimed at an audience that you know little about.

Think about how you answer that inevitable cocktail party question, “What do you do?”

Unique value Proposition (UVP) and Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The UVP and USP are both brief statements that describe your product or service. They also explain how you solve your customer’s needs, and what makes you different and better than your competitors.

Compared to an elevator speech, it’s likely that you know more about your audience when you deliver your UVP or USP. It may be that you’re talking to someone who knows little or nothing about your field, and you’ll address them much like you’d start the elevator speech. On the other hand you’ll use your UVP and USP in sales presentations, on your web site and other times when someone clearly has a lot more background information to start with.

From my own research and in hearing people use these terms, there is agreement that one is more internal focused and one is more external, yet there are contradictory opinions: some people feel the USP is more promotional/external and others feel the UVP holds that role.

I’m not here to dissect that argument, rather to shed light on the fact that when you are trying to get others to understand the value of your offerings, you need to start by distilling what you do into understandable language. It’s important that a USP or UVP not be all about you; it has to also tell a prospect about what’s in it for them. Rather than just describing what you offer and its features, you also describe the benefits of the product or service.

creating a USP or UVP for a tech or specialized business

When you’re in a highly specialized business, your UVP or USP needs special focus and possible adjustment.

While you may read advice suggesting that your USP or UVP focus almost exclusively on customer benefits, this can backfire in niche markets.

If you are in a highly specialized, or high-tech field, you may need to take a step back and learn to succinctly explain what your product or service does and why it matters. Using less jargon, high-level thinking and perhaps some analogy or story telling, you should be able to get nearly anyone to care about your business.

[bctt tweet=”Avoid jargon and use story telling to get nearly anyone to care about your business.”]

Let me demonstrate why creating a USP for a niche market is different.

Imagine that you own a pizza restaurant, you don’t need to explain what pizza is. Instead, you need to focus on what makes your pizza restaurant better than others: crispy crust, the freshest tomatoes in the sauce, or a very convenient location, are examples.

By contrast, if you skip over details explaining how your technical or specialized product works, you often end up with a USP that is either confusing or just too vague.

For example, I’ve seen a lot of specialized consulting firms brag that they make their client’s businesses more successful. Their USP is: “We help our clients succeed.” There is nothing unique about that proposition. Many consultants help their clients succeed.

You need to give more background about the specifics of your niche. Provide details about the field you specialize in, and the type of clients you serve.

For example let’s look at a mythical consulting firm that specializes in managing big data projects for financial services companies.

USP that’s too vague: BD Corp. leverages big data to make better business decisions.

USP with too much jargon: BD Corp integrates sensor data, larger big data sources and data mining to discover operational inefficiencies and create predictive modeling and forecasting that provides value that is well beyond the sum of its parts.

USP that’s just right: BD Corp works as your in-house technical team to review your business goals, to evaluate options for gathering and analyzing big data, and to recommend the right tools and team members to help financial services firms make better business decisions.

Tailor your value proposition to your audience

Elevator speeches are, by their nature, what you say when you have little or no background on the person you are talking with. USPs and UVPs, by contrast, are generally used in situations where you have more information about your audience.

A successful USP or UVP for a technical business should be adjusted to take into account who you are talking with.

Again, with a pizza parlor, you never have to spend any effort explaining what you do, you cut right to what’s unique and why customers love your product.

However, with a specialized business, how you describe your value proposition to someone in your field may be dramatically different to someone outside of the field. Think about how you explain what you do at a cocktail party compared to when you’re talking to a potential customer or vendor.

Don’t assume too much

It’s always better to step further back and add clarity to what you do before you move on to why you do it better than anyone else.

Too many hi-tech firms make the mistake of talking over people’s heads with too much jargon or other industry-specific language. Then, when they try and strip that jargon out of their USP they are left with empty statements filled with vague generalities.

Think of the goldilocks principle: not too vague, not too detailed, but just right. It can take skill and practice to learn to distill the important details in a way that keeps it brief (let’s not bore anyone), but still informs.

Once you have a core statement, you can add in more details for peers in the field, and pull back using more general, understandable language for other audiences.

Keep it understandable

Just because you add in details, doesn’t mean it should ever be full of jargon. Too many acronyms and buzz words can fail to demonstrate your real value in human terms. People usually want to know whether your product or service, on a gut level, will help them:

  • make more money (through increased revenues, decreased costs or efficiency),
  • make them happier (often by removing frustration), and/or
  • make the world a better place.

What is your USP or UVP?

Share it in the comments and myself and other readers will be happy to give you feedback.

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