Being Unique

Perhaps it is coincidental, but statistics show that about 80% of businesses fail within 2-5 years, and about 80% of businesses do not have a “Point of Difference” or a unique attribute, or when they do, they fail to show it.

This is a short version of a typical conversation I may have with my client:

  • Coach: ”Can you tell me why I would buy from you, and not from your competitor?”
  • Entrepreneur: “We have a great quality product, great service, we are the best!”
  • Coach: “What would your competitor say if I ask them the same question?”
  • Entrepreneur: “Actually they copy us like crazy!”
  • Coach: “So why would I buy from you and not them?!”
  • Entrepreneur: “I told you we are the best!”

So what?!

This is what your customers will say; what is it for them? Why should they give you their hard-earned money?

The right answer (and there is one) needs to be wholly about the customer benefits and experience, and not how good you are. It is not about the features of your products but about the benefits of these features to the end customer. The correct answer is in what informed business people call Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Some also call it Unique Selling Edge, Unique Selling Advantage, Unique Selling Benefit, Unique Selling Distinction, etc…

An effective USP…

An effective USP should be the raison d’être of your business, because it succinctly describes how customers benefit if they buy your products/services and what assurances, evidence or guarantees you provide for buying from you. In other words, a USP provides a clear and guaranteed solution to a need. Discovering and describing your USP can be challenging and time consuming but the rewards are almost certain.


Here are two current USPs from the Australian airline industry. Which is a more compelling USP and why?

Virgin Blue

Great on-time performance. It’s about time.”

Safe, on-time operations are paramount to our business and we have the figures to prove it.

Qantas Jetstar

“We commit to provide the lowest fares with our Price Beat Guarantee”

At Jetstar, we’re committed to providing you with great, low fares – all day everyday. That’s why, if you find a published internet airfare on another airline that is lower than the lowest available Jetstar fare on the same route at a comparable time on, call us to book with Jetstar and we will beat the other airline’s fare by 10%.

The focus and effort in building an effective USP can be the reason why most business shy away from it, even when shown its great benefits ad nauseam. But this is also a sure reason why most businesses will either barely survive in mediocrity or fail.

 I will discuss how to build a strong USP in a future post.