Your USP Is BS

Your USP Is BS

We engaged with some third-party promotional support recently and, in the kickoff meeting, our account lead asked me: “So, what’s your unique selling point (USP)?” Rather than scrape around for a succinct, polished elevator pitch, I simply said: “It depends who we are talking to. Our USP to one person will not be the USP to another.”

Confused and dumbfounded, the young gent sensibly opted to quash his curiosity to pull on the thread. Instead, he just nodded and moved on. But his innocent little question struck a chord with me. This encounter got me thinking. It dawned on me that I was this guy 10 years ago. “What is your USP?” is a stock question for any type of business consultant, and if you work in B2B sales, marketing or any type of commercial role, you’ve probably been asked many times.

Back in the day, when I asked prospects and clients what their USP was, a customer would typically reel off 10 different supposed competitive differentiates — expertise, product, quality, people, culture — the usual suspects which are all valid but not tantamount to a single defining USP.

In the modern B2B world, choosing one partner over another is never down to just one thing. Sourcing and selecting a vendor for a high-value, technical service, for example, requires the consideration of a complex mix of criteria. A decision will ultimately come down to what is most meaningful and of high perceived value to your customer. Your supposed “USP” might be 10th on the list in the mind of the client, so if you go OTT (over the top) about it, guess what? The prospect is likely to go elsewhere.

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