What makes you stand out from the crowd? Why should we hire you? If you were in a job interview and were asked these questions, how would you answer? This concept is your USP or Unique Selling Proposition. The precise definition is “The real or perceived benefit of a product or service that differentiates it from the competing brands and gives its buyer a logical reason to prefer it over other brands.”
How would you describe your USP? Be it for you as an individual, or for your company’s product or service, there should be 3 core elements:
1. Benefit: If the employer hires you or a client uses your product, then the benefit (real or perceived) that they will get is xyz. For example, Scooters Pizza says “We deliver. Hot. Tasty. Fast. Delivery in 39 minutes. If it’s late, it’s free.” So if you buy from Scooters, you get delicious hot pizza delivered to your door in 39 minutes or less.
2. Unique: It must be something that your competition either cannot or does not offer. So continuing on the same example, lots of other pizza brands sell delicious hot pizza like Scooters. But what makes Scooters unique is if they don’t get it to you in 39 minutes, the pizza is free. So they guarantee your takeaway pizza will still be hot when they deliver it. Their competition doesn’t do this.
3. Compelling: the proposition you’re making must be so strong and valued that your target audience will use (and pay for) your product or service. After all, it’s worthless having a great product or service if you cannot make someone buy it. Based on the 39 minute promise, if you had to choose between 2 pizza brands, would you choose Scooters? This comes down to delivery: do they consistently keep their 39 minute promise?
From a personal branding perspective, how do you define your personal USP? You need to have a strong grasp of your strengths and weaknesses. To help you identify these on a personal level, a useful exercise provided by personal branding expert Louise Mowbray is to ask 20-30 of your peers (work colleagues, mentors, clients, etc.) what they consider to be your strengths and growth areas. Because of the lack of anonymity, they may not be that honest about the growth areas. But at least it will give you a starting point. By collating the responses, you’ll be able to spot common trends.
Once you know your Unique Selling Proposition and can crystallise it into a sentence or two, you’ll be much more effective at selling yourself in job interviews, client proposals and any negotiating situation.