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How To Find Your USP

Carl Reader explains how to maintain your competitive edge in the modern business world How To Find Your USP

There’s a viral image that proclaims you can have something cheap, you can have something done fast and you can have it done well - but you can’t have all three.

Quite frankly, that’s rubbish. If anyone believes that, they haven’t got a clue about today’s modern world.

Just look at Google. It’s not just cheap, it’s free of charge. It’s not just fast, it’s pretty much instant. And no one can dispute it does its job incredibly well.


Things are changing in the business world and as business owners we need to understand what our customers desire nowadays. Expectations have moved on a long way. It’s phenomenal to compare what consumers want today with what they expected 10 years ago. We’ve got enough stuff. What customers seek now is time, experience, novelty and health.

How can a business stand out? Armed with this knowledge, it needs to focus on at least one of these key areas to raise it above its competition.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of cost leadership versus product differentiation. Let’s dismiss cost leadership to start with, as unless you’re massively capitalised you’re not going to be a cost leader because the Tescos of this world are going to do it before you, quicker than you and, ultimately, far better than you. So the main thing is to look at how you can differentiate yourself.

Let’s apply this practically by taking painters and decorators as an example. They’re a classic example of a business you can see no direct correlation between the time, experience, novelty and health factors I mentioned before, but there’s still action that can be taken.

Many of us have experienced a bad painter or decorator. So the first thing this business can do to differentiate itself is to give a no-mess guarantee or your money back. Who isn’t going to take that?

Maybe it can look at boosting the customer experience by providing a designed image of what the job will look like afterwards. They can take a photo, use Photoshop to change the colour and show you exactly how it will look without putting paint on the walls.

Taking that one step further, while the technology probably isn’t quite cheap enough yet to do it, perhaps the use of virtual reality, so that you can really experience what it’s like to have magnolia walls rather than the current brown ones, will help set it apart.


These methodologies can be applied to any business. We’re all in crowded marketplaces and if we’re just a ‘me too’ business, no one will have any reason to come to us over anybody else.

Just having a website isn’t enough for people to come and find your business. You need to make sure your business stands out in some way and that you shout about whatever it is that you do differently - your unique selling point.

Whatever your USP is, own it, focus on it and do it well.

About the author

Carl Reader is author of The Start Up Coach and co-owner of To hear more from Carl, follow him on Twitter @carlreader or join The Startup Coach group on Facebook. Read more like this

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