Here’s An Alternative Way Of Thinking About USP
Have you ever heard of the Common Basilisk lizard?
It’s a lizard that lives in rainforests, most commonly spotted from southern Mexico to Panama.
And like most lizards, pregnant female basilisk lizards can lay up to 20 eggs per batch.
And yeah, that’s not surprising for a lizard. Most species do the same, so what’s so special about them then?
They can run on water.
What makes this lizard special is the anatomy of their hind legs.
In the presence of danger, this critter can run towards any body of water and slap their feet quickly against the surface.
This rapid churning of their legs help create little pockets of water that keeps the Basilisk from sinking as they run.
Did I mention they can run over 20 meters (or 66 feet) before having to swim away?
If I were to ask you what’s unique about this lizard, you would probably say it’s this crazy ability it has. I mean, it’s called the Jesus Christ lizard for heaven’s sake!
And traditionally, we would say that this was the animal’s USP. Or Unique Selling Proposition.
But there’s this weird thing that happens when we approach thinking this way. Especially when trying to pin a USP for our own products and services.
And that is we go straight into facts.
And that makes sense. When we’re asked “what’s special about your product?”, our brain has a tendency to think about what sticks out the most.
And sometimes, that isn’t obvious, or there aren’t big differences (yet, at least).
Especially when we have competition.
For example, a common Basilisk lizard is spectacularly unique…
When compared to a group of normal lizards.
But what about if compared to big group of other Basilisk Lizards?
What if everybody in the group can already run on water?
That’s where the USP challenge begins.
The problem with finding uniqueness based off of facts
Here’s a brain teaser.
What’s special about Bill Gates?
According to Google (or well, Business Insider)…
Ah, we went back to facts, haven’t we?
Okay, here’s the new question:
What was special about Bill Gates before all that? Before Microsoft?
Ah, now that’s a little harder.
When things stop becoming obvious, that’s where we need to get a bit more creative.
Because that’s the issue with finding uniqueness through facts.
We tend to look at the people at the top (or the obvious cases) and use that as our map in finding our uniqueness.
But that doesn’t tend to work as well when we’re starting businesses at the bottom or in the middle.
So the question lies…
How do you find your uniqueness without relying on facts?
The way I see it, there’s 2 ways.
And they both have to do with changing the way we ask the question.
The first one is:
What is specific about you that’s different from the group?
What is something specific about you that helps you stand out?
It’s ALMOST the same question as “What’s special about you”, but there’s a difference.
First, it removes all the pressure from asking about something special.
We’re not asking for extraordinary here. We’re asking for different. And that’s the difference.
For example (and this is going to totally sound like I’m boasting), I’m bilingual. I lived 8 years in the U.S and 13 in Argentina.
If you put me in the middle of Florida where all the Latinos are, I wouldn’t really stand out. (In fact, I might just blend in)
But put me in a place where not a lot of bilinguals hang out, (maybe great britain?) and I might stand out to a fault.
That’s why facts by themselves might not do the trick. But the right fact in the right context can make finding a USP a cinch.
The second one is:
What do you promise you will do?
Promises have power.
They convey trust.
They imply you’re willing to put your reputation on the line.
Careers can be made based on your promises.
- “If you don’t make your money back, I won’t charge you.”
- “Our employees always put our customers first.”
- “Wind, hail or rain, you’ll always get your packages on time.”
But this is also a lot harder than the first option.
But it also packs 10x the impact.
Because you have to show your promise through action. Words are not enough here.
“30 minutes or it’s free” is a hell of a promise. That’s not coming from a fact. You’re MAKING the fact.
Would your competitors be willing to do the same?
That’s how you stand out. And that’s how you make your USP.
And remember to show it in everything you do. Always.
In your marketing.
In your stories.
In your stores.
With your clients.
In your words.
And in your actions.
That’s what makes you unique.
You can make your uniqueness.
Because it’s not always going to be there at the start, but you sure as hell can make sure you have it in the end.
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My name is Mauro [Maw-ro] and I’m the guy who wrote this article. I have a newsletter where once a week I send an insightful idea on how to improve landing pages for your marketing campaigns. If you’re interested, you can sign up to get them in your email here.