My Marketing Thing

What makes you so special, eh?

Plumber with USP cartoon

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about the VERY CORE of marketing.

Sure, I’ve gestured towards it…flirted with it even (namely in 3 things people forget about a new business name). But I can’t wait any longer. It is now it’s time to ‘go there’. It is time to talk about your….


Unique Selling Proposition

God, what an awful, boring term. It’s almost as rigor mortis-inspiring as ‘corporate image’ and ‘corporate identity’. It even has a boring acronym: USP.

Okay. It may be hard to believe, but your ‘unique selling proposition (USP)’ is what makes you really exciting to other people. It is what makes you special.

For remotely effective marketing, it is absolutely vital for you to know – in one line – what your unique selling proposition is. Why? Because if you don’t know what makes you special, why should anyone else care?

But nailing your USP can be tricky…


There are two questions to ask yourself:

  1. What do you do that’s different from everyone else?
  2. Why should I care?


Question # 1: What do you do that is different from everyone else? 

If you say “But I don’t care about what anyone else is doing”, I say “You’re a ning-nong who deserves to fail in business.”

Sound harsh? Being spiritual (and loving all of God’s creatures) doesn’t mean you exist in a bubble. Embrace your environment and understand what’s going on around you.


Finding out what makes you different from the rest:

  1. Define what you do as best you can (e.g. plumbing).
  2. Define the people you want to do it for (e.g. people in Bondi, Australia).
  3. Google those answers (e.g. plumbing, Bondi, Australia) to find out how others like you are promoting themselves (i.e. your competition).
  4. Take notes on the key messages they are promoting
  5. What’s missing from their sites that you know you do?


It could be a particular service you give.

It could be a particular product you sell.

It could be a guarantee you offer.

It could be that you know everyone in Bondi is groovy-savvy and there are no plumbing websites that look remotely groovy-savvy…and you are pretty groovy-savvy yourself (yes, even plumbers can be groovy-savvy).

Is being a ‘groovy-savvy Bondi plumber’ enough to serve as a unique selling proposition? Maybe. This leads us to the next question…


Question #2: Why should I care?

People aren’t as caring as you think. They don’t really care where you were born or what your favourite colour is. These days, chances are, they won’t even care if you are a family business.

But it’s a good idea to get to know these people personally – even if they don’t want to get to know you personally.


Who are these people?

‘These people’ are called your ‘target market’. They are the people you are selling to, your clients or customers. These are your punters – or punters you wish you had.


How would we describe your punters?

Punter descriptions are often called ‘demographics’. Demographics are small boxes we jam complex humans into for the sake of effective marketing.

In other words, sometimes you have to throw the net out and generalise a little. Are your desired punters:

  • women, men or transsexual?
  • high income, low income or low income but want to pretend to have a high income?
  • tertiary graduates, from the School of Hard Knocks or an interesting combination of the two?

Okay, you get the picture.

So let’s look at some possible demographics / characteristics for Bondi punters in need of plumbing repairs for their homes:

  • well-educated women (men are too ashamed to call)
  • reasonably high income (the beach might be free but the rest certainly isn’t)
  • likes groovy things
  • doesn’t tolerate mess well (not even sand…)
  • can still drive a hard bargain (on anything but shoes and soft furnishings)


What do they care about?

Essentially, most people want to know that:

  • you are reliable: fix the problem properly
  • you are responsive: fix the problem when they want it fixed
  • you are worth it: charging at a price that’s fine to them.

So why would a groovy-savvy-looking plumbing website be important to Bondi people?

Well, first you have to ensure they understand you will fix the problem at a price that’s fine to them. And that your availability is good – who wants dodgy plumbing for more than a day? And that you clean up after yourself, because they hate mess, remember?

But maybe all the plumbers advertising in the Bondi area are saying these things.

So THEN, by having the groovy-savvy-looking website you will be saying “AND we are one of you”.


Why is saying ‘we are one of you’ important?

Answer: Trust. Plumbers come into people homes, often when there isn’t another man around. A woman wants to know she can trust the plumber. She’s already feeling that ‘we are alike’ trust from your promotional material by the groovy-savvy-looking design. From your words she knows that you won’t be ripping her off financially either.

But that’s just one example.


The point is…

The point is that your unique selling proposition isn’t just a line of words. It can be conveyed in a multitude of ways. But you need to start with that line of words for your own clarity and go from there.


What do I mean “…and go from there”?

In the next post, you will find out how to use your unique selling proposition in your promotional material….

Note: If you know why you are special, then you are more likely to make your clients feel special.


This post was written by Megan Hills.  Megan is a writer, cartoonist and marketing consultant who thinks you’re special too. Find out more about Megan

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One Comment

  1. Margaret

    Very funny Megan but great insight into like you say a potentially boring topic.
    Thanks again

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