by John Eberhard

In marketing, whether with website marketing or offline marketing, it is important to develop what is called a “unique selling proposition,” or USP, for your business. This is defined as a way of presenting or selling your business that makes it unique or makes it stand out from the competition.

Decades ago, marketers discovered that as more and more competing companies came into the marketplace, that it did not work well to try to be all things to all people. If every company did this, then how could the customer decide which one to choose?

Marketers discovered that it worked better to find a way to differentiate themselves, to say that their company was unique in some way, to put themselves into a certain niche.

You see this a lot with big companies today. Car manufacturers have nearly all defined themselves as manufacturing a certain type of car, i.e. luxury cars, rugged cars or trucks, economy cars, etc. BMW is “the ultimate driving machine.” Audi is “progressive luxury.” Lexus is the “pursuit of excellence.” The VW Jetta is an inexpensive car with lots of safety innovations. The Ford F150 is the best selling truck in America for X number of years.

Beer companies have been using USPs for a long time. Coors is brewed with Rocky Mountain water. The Bud Light Playbook positions them as the beer you drink while you’re watching football. Heineken is the premium imported beer. Corona is apparently the beer you drink while on the beach, with a twist of lime of course.

We’ve all seen these examples and I’m sure you can think of many more. But what about your small or medium sized business? Does it have a unique selling proposition? Do you have a way of making your business stand out from the crowd? Or does your business fade into the landscape?

The more competition there is in your type of business, the more vital it is to develop a USP. I’ve worked with a few dentists over the years and there is an awesome amount of competition among dentists. And the problem is that most dentists do not develop any kind of USP. They are the “friendly, caring” dentist. But so are the other 45 dentists advertising in their small city. So with a dental practice it is important to develop some kind of USP. With a practice based just on referrals, it doesn’t matter as much. But as soon as you start to advertise, you have to find a way to stand out, to make your advertising effective.

Real estate is another area where there is a ton of competition and where most agents or brokers have no USP.

With home improvement companies, I think it is easier to develop a USP because most home improvement companies tend to specialize in one or more aspects of their particular trade. You have the company that does copper repiping, or the company that specializes in home foundation repair, or the company that is expert in chimney repair and cleaning. Or among landscape companies, you have one that does high end design, another that does installation and maintenance, or another that works mainly with commercial properties.

However you do it, to the degree that you separate your company out from the competition, you will be more successful.