You may be all about the next idea.  

You’re consumed with the next widget, gizmo, or product that will fly off the shelf.  If so, good for you. I’m currently working with a few guys who have warehouses, far-east connections, and the ability to fabricate almost anything at ultra-low costs with surprisingly high levels of quality.  We’re in the process of building online stores to sell products in certain niches. Some will be temporary, short-lived successes much like beanie babies, or, more recently, fidget spinners. Some will hopefully be ongoing.

However, this might not be you.  You might be all about building a lasting, enduring, profitable company.  You may be all about building a powerful brand locally, regionally, or nationally that spins off cash and is a lot of fun to manage.  Sure, the next idea or innovation is important to you, but not as important as protecting and advancing the brand for the long haul.

I spend most of my time working with entrepreneurs who are building lasting companies.   I love the process of building online brands. Regardless of whether you’re building an enduring company or simply riding the wave of a hot product until it fizzles, the two concepts we’ll discuss in this article will directly benefit you.

There are really two sides to any company: the Inside Reality and the Outside Perception.  

The Inside Reality is who you are as a company, it’s your products, your process, your people, it’s ultimately what makes your company great (or not so great).  The Outside Perceptions is what the market thinks about you. It’s what a prospect in your market might say if asked what they think about your company.

What I’ve found with most of my consulting clients is that the two rarely match up.  Rarely does the Outside Perception mirror the Inside Reality. Who’s to blame for this?  Well, primarily you, the businesses owner. And the problems stems from a lack of understanding of two key concepts –the UVP and the USP.  Or the Unique Value Proposition and the Unique Selling Proposition. I’ve heard some describe these two concepts interchangeably, but I disagree.  There’s an important distinction between the two. When you understand that distinction, good things can happen in your business.

UVP –  Unique Value Proposition

Who you are

Your UVP is simply who you are as a company.  This is your Inside Reality.  It’s your personality.  Your identity. Your strengths.  A UVP tells you and your team what you are all about.  It’s what will guide you into the future through changes, challenges, and opportunities.  Your UVP also serves as a great basis for making decisions. If you know ultimately who you are as a company, then making decisions becomes much easier.  Should you buy the new software program? Update your office? Hire more staff? Fire staff? If you know who you are and have a clear UVP, then it’s much easier to answer these questions.

Take for example, Pixar, creator of the hit movies Toy Story, Cars, Finding Nemo, A Bugs Life, Zootopia and others.  Pixar has yet to produce a dud. All of their movies have turned a profit. Actually, most of their movies have been HUGE successes.  How is that possible? How can you only produce winners? Partially because of a powerful UVP.

While I’ve never heard Pixar formally express this as their UVP, I think it’s pretty clear, observing the way they operate and viewing their product.  Also if you’ve ever watched the documentary The Pixar Story, this is a theme throughout the film (I highly recommend this movie to any business owner).  I would argue that Pixar’s UVP is “We tell great stories.” Not average stories. Not stories that will do just enough to produce an acceptable profit. Great stories.  Their ability to tell great stories is what fuels Pixar’s phenomenal success. It’s not the technology. Sure the technology is cool…super cool. But their movies and the company would go flat if the stories weren’t good.

Do you see how the UVP of “we tell great stories” could help Pixar with almost any decision they make?  When faced with a decision or opportunity, they can ask, “Will this help us tell great stories?” The an

swer to that question alone will help guide them.

So what about you?  Who are you as a company?  What is your Unique Value Proposition? Once you know, then it’s time to move on to the USP.

USP – Your Unique Selling Proposition

Why the market should care

Basically a good USP takes a solid UVP and puts it into language that speaks to your target market.  If a UVP describes who you are, then a USP tells your market why they should care. It expresses what’s in it for them.  A great USP comes from a deep understanding of who your customer is, what they want, and what makes them tick.

A good USP should cause your prospects to crave your product or service.  It should cause them to see almost instantly that they would be silly not to check out your company and your product.   Likely you’ll have a different USP For each product or service you offer.

Here are some great examples of successful USPs:

  • Work out in exactly 4 minutes – this USP is attached to the amazing, crazy-looking, and wildly expensive ROM workout machine that will set you back close to $15,000 to own.  However, it boasts the ability to pack the body-building benefits of an hour long work out into just 4 minutes.  That’s a pretty unique selling proposition.
  • When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight – this is the USP that launched Fedex.  It created confidence in Fedex and created subtle doubt about any alternative to Fedex.  It was implied that if you don’t use Fedex, you’re gambling on delivery.
  • Look 10 years younger in just 10 minutes – I’ve seen this ad used by medical clinics to sell BOTOX injections.  In just 10 minutes you can lose those unwanted wrinkles and look 10 years younger.  Who over the age of 40 (or so) wouldn’t want to look 10 years younger, especially if it only takes 10 minutes?
  • Packs the power of 5 tomatoes into one little pill – this line helped sell a pill that provides all the health and nutrition benefits of 5 tomatoes in one easy-to-swallow pill.  Would you rather try and choke down 5 tomatoes to simply take a pill?

A good USP puts your UVP into language that immediately resonates with your target market.  It pulls them in and makes them say, “I want that!” And ideally makes them say, “I want that, NOW!”

Here’s an example of how a good UVP and a good USP can work together.  

A good friend and former business partner of mine, Don Harkey with People Centric Consulting Group does a lot of strategic planning work with mid-sized companies.  His focus or his UVP is “helping business owners live with passion and do what they love.”  That’s the guiding force behind his business. This is a great UVP, but there’s just one problem.  It doesn’t sell. So, Don has crafted this USP that he uses to get in front of clients and make the sale “we can help fix your people problems.”   People problems are a major hot button for a lot of companies. Managers and business owners everywhere are desperate to find an answer to eliminating employee turnover, getting employees motivated, handling problem employees, etc.  This USP has some real power behind it and it’s getting Don in front of a lot of great clients. In the process Don helps his clients do what they are passionate about. But, it’s the promise of fixing people problems that gets Don in the door.

When you truly understand who you are and what your customer wants, you can become an unstoppable force.  This is true whether you are building a lasting brand that you can pass on to the next generation, and it’s also true if you are just looking for the next winning product to sell for as long as it’s hot.

This one-two punch of a UVP and USP can really help set you apart from the pack and make you a winner.


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