Many service-based businesses struggle to create an offer that stands out and resonates with their ideal client. They either end up creating a “me too” product that closely resembles their competitors’ offer or they waste valuable resources developing something nobody needs or cares about. 

So how do you create an exceptional service offering that is distinct and also speaks to the needs and wants of your prospects?

Developing such an offer starts by determining your unique selling proposition (USP). A USP refers to the unique benefits that your service or product offers that both differentiates you from your competition while also addressing the needs, desires and goals of your ideal clients.

5 Steps to Identifying Your USP

1. Conduct client/customer research and analysis 

In order to provide a service that solves your clients’ problems, you must first know what those problems are. Additionally, you should be able to identify your clients’ buying behaviors, communication preferences, lifestyle, and other psychographic details.

Without a good understanding of your clients, you will have a difficult time not only creating a service that aligns with their needs and challenges, you will also struggle to engage with them in a meaningful way. To find out how to research your target market, check out this article: 5 Sure Ways to Uncover Your Clients’ Deepest Desires.

2. Conduct competitor research

Besides having a good understanding of your ideal clients, it’s also crucial to gather intelligence on your competitors. I recommend choosing at least five direct competitors and two indirect competitors to research. 

Your direct competitors are organizations that sell similar products and services to your target market. An example is two companies that sell adjustable dumbbells. The dumbbells may have different features and designs, but both are similar solutions sold to similar customers – people who work out at home. 

Indirect competitors are organizations that offer your target market alternative solutions to the problems you solve. Continuing with the example just mentioned, a company that sells resistance bands does not sell the same type of product as the dumbbell company, but they do sell a similar solution to the same customers who may choose one option over the other to get the same result.

When conducting research on your competitors, here are some questions you should answer about each one:

  • What services do they offer? 
  • How do they present and organize their services into an offer? 
  • What is their pricing structure? 
  • What is their brand personality, and how is it presented in their communication’s voice and tone? 
  • What communication channels and social platforms do they use? 
  • How do they frame the solution to their clients’ problems?

You can find answers to these questions by analyzing each competitor’s website, social channels, advertising campaigns, and email campaigns (I recommend signing up for your competitors’ email newsletters). Additionally, you may want to look through review sights to gain some insights on what your competitors’ clients and customers are saying. This will offer details on where they are missing the mark, what they are doing well, and what expectations your prospects have. 

3. Conduct a gap analysis 

After you’ve completed your competitor research, it’s time to start the analyzation process to determine any unmet needs or opportunities within your niche or industry. This is called a gap analysis. Take some time to really think through the pain points and challenges of your ideal clients. How are your competitors meeting these needs and what are they missing? Also, consider your prospects’ communication style and personalities. Are your competitors engaging in a way that is relatable and appealing to their audience or is there a better approach building strong connections? 

Don’t overanalyze at this point. Just write down everything you can think of that you feel is missing from your competitors’ offer. The next two steps are where you will start putting it all together and forming your own USP.

4. Identify what you do best and how that fits within the gaps

Once you have finished writing down the unmet needs and opportunities within your niche, review your list and identify the items that you are best suited to address. Consider your brand persona and archetype, your expertise, and your capabilities based on experience, financial resources and staffing requirements. 

Pinpoint where you are uniquely qualified to satisfy these unmet needs in areas where your competitors are unable or unwilling to address. In order to preserve authenticity, be sure the gaps you choose to fill align with your brand and support your mission and values.

5. Determine how your offer can add value or enhance the experience of your ideal client

Now that you have narrowed down your list of opportunities and differentiators that are most relevant to your capabilities and brand identity, it’s time to use one more set of filters to produce an even more effective and laser-focused offer.

For each item in your list, ask how your idea will add value, solve a problem, or enhance an experience for the client. Does it offer more personalized attention, create more relevance, better address desires and goals, or satisfy expectations? If you are unable to provide a customer-centric rationale for your idea, then you should reconsider including it as part of your offer.

Here is an example I see all the time that ends up being a turn-off rather than an appeal. (Sorry if this steps on any toes, but it needs to be said). Some coaches and consultants love bragging about their success and income – and promising the same for their clients – thinking that it will prove the effectiveness of their course or program. In reality, it comes off as arrogant bluster. 

Considering it is a well-known fact that many of these ridiculous claims are flat-out lies, these boasting tactics only produce skepticism and disgust rather than trust and likability. This positioning method is not only inauthentic, it also offers no value, solution, or enhanced experience for the client.

Rather than droning on about your own success, address the concerns and offer solutions for your prospects. It’s about them, not you.

Download the USP Template to help develop your brand’s unique selling proposition. The fillable PDF template will help you determine what you uniquely offer based on your capabilities and the needs of your clients. It’s also a great reference for your content creation team to ensure your USP is always clearly communicated.

Unique Selling Proposition Template

Areas of Differentiation

There are a number of areas where you can differentiate your offer from your competitors while addressing the needs, desires and goals of your ideal client. The following is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place to start. Here are some areas you can choose to put your own unique spin on to create an offer that stands out in your niche: 

  • Pricing structure 
  • Elements within the offer – Example: One-on-one consulting along with a program rather than an online course 
  • Framing of the offer – How it solves different problems or problems in a different/unique way
  • Meeting an unmet need
  • Meeting a need to a new or overlooked market 
  • Your personal experience – What you bring to the table that is different from everyone else
  • Your brand personality 
  • Your methodology – Your unique approach and solutions to problems. This is especially effective if you have a trademarked name to your solution or a proprietary process.

Going through this process should allow you to develop a unique offer that resonates with your ideal client and stands out from the competition. If you struggle to come up with something truly unique or can’t find any gaps in your market, perhaps you should consider refining your niche, whether that be your service offerings, your target market, or a combination of both.

As always, if you are still in need of some help, I would love to discuss how our program can assist you in clarifying your identity, establishing your position in the market, and creating messaging that helps to engage with your clients.

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