Finding your USP

Last post: Dec 12, 2022

What do you or your company stand for? Easy question - difficult to answer.

Whilst working with large multinationals we found that they devoted quite a bit of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears in trying to distil this down and come up with their 'essence' - what they stand for as well as what they offer. In many cases we were involved in helping companies identify their vision, mission and corporate values. However since working with SMEs via Bucks Business First (BBF) we have found that the same principles apply to small, medium and start up businesses, only the amount of time spent trying to find these intangible elements differs - owner/managers of SMEs have a day job - running the business!

When helping businesses with their strategy the single most crucial element, in my opinion, is that of finding your Corporate USP. Now what do we mean by a Corporate USP? Your Unique Selling Proposition can be thought of in other ways - it is your Core Differentiator, or Source of Competitive Advantage - it is that element that makes you different from your competitors and makes you stand out. Without a USP businesses tend to converge on competing on price - and then it is a race in only one direction - DOWN!

At a global level UK Plc is trying to understand what makes it stand out in a post industrial economy? There is no way that UK can compete on cost alone. I have worked in India and the Far East and I have seen how mass production can be done at such a low cost that it would be impossible for western nations to compete. So how can UK Plc survive? By finding out what it can do that other nations and economies can't. It should leverage the best universities in then world and the innovative businesses and entrepreneurs that we have - that's what makes us stand out.

At a local level a SME needs to think about what makes it different. Surprisingly in many cases we find it is not the service provided or the product sold which contains the differentiating factor but the way in which they are provided. We have seen many cases when a business asks their customer "Why do you do business with us?" the answer comes back as "you're great at answering the phone" or "your T&Cs are better than anyone else" or "I never have any problems with your billing or accounts compared with others"!

So take the festive break to really think about what makes your business different or stand out from your competitors. You might find that it's not what you initially think and it may not be that product or service you have devoted so much time and effort in developing. Once you have that USP and have confirmed it then you need to make sure it is part and parcel of everything you say and do. This is the family silver - this is the true value of your business!

Merry Christmas!

Simon Derry
Bosun Consulting Group Ltd