Just off the coast of Cancun, Mexico sunk deep beneath the water sits a man, perfectly still, watching television with a plate of burger and fries on his knee.
Sculpted from coral-friendly pH-neutral marine concrete, the idea of underwater sculptures that encourage habitation and growth of corals and marine life is certainly unique.
Unsurprisingly, the sculptor Jascon deCaires Taylor has attracted a lot of attention and success from his “unique selling point”
Except that his unique selling point isn’t really unique, it’s simply a combination of less unique things including:
- Set design
And it relies on one other thing an end-user (customer) interest in environmental awareness and protection.
Goodbye Product Revolution
One of the biggest marketing instructions you’ll ever hear is:
Define Your Unique Selling Proposition
But if you’re a web design company, photographer, life coach or marketing consultant it can be difficult to figure out how you’re “unique” compared to all those other people offering the same services as you.
Product revolution isn’t as common place as it used to be. Today we see incremental change rather than “overnight” landscape-changing inventions like television or even a one all-purpose flour (little reference for you Bluegrass fans out there).
As a result, finding a USP is incredibly diffictult.
But that’s not the only challenge.
Sometimes, having a USP can kill sales.
How The USP Killed White Whisky Sales
If you’re struggling to come up with your own “underwater” sculpture concept to blow everyone out of the water, you could find yourself in danger of forcing yourself to create some obscure USP just to “stand out”.
But just because no-one else is doing it, doesn’t mean you should.
In 1971, Brown-Forman Distillers launched the first ever “white whisky” called “Frost 8/80”
No-one else was doing this. It was unique. The company enjoyed much back-slapping over the concept and competitors were worried.
Because there was no desire from the customers for it.
To the consumer, it wasn’t even “unique” (they already had a number of clear spirits such as vodka or gin that happily suited their needs).
The USP alone just wasn’t enough.
So how do you create a unique position that does appeal to your customers?
Well, first you need to understand…
Customers Do Not Buy A USP
Customers don’t buy just because something is different.
They buy because of the story surrounding it.
In 1970, the U.S Postal Service launched the “Mailgram.” The first electronic mail which allowed you to call a number, transcribe a message and have it delivered to a post-office near your recipient the next day.
It was a unique service, but again, being unique wasn’t enough. to market the product, they decided to create content that told a unique story to customer.
Over 13 weeks, they tested 2 unique story angles positioning Mailgram as:
- The High-Speed Letter
- The Low-Cost Telegram
In short, the “Low-Cost Telegram” story outperformed the “High-Speed Letter” story in sales.
Two different stories.
The story matters
The Unique STORY Proposition
Did you know that there are only 7 basic story structures that exist in the world?
Yet consider how many millions of films, books, plays and creative narratives have been made. Think how many vivid memories of different individual stories you hold in your head.
They all appear distinct and yet lay on top of a framework of just a handful of basic plots.
And this is the secret to standing out.
You don’t have to do things differently, you just have to communicate them differently.
Finding Your Unique Story Proposition
One mistake personality entrepreneurs make is because individually, we’re all unique, if we just “be ourselves” we’ll attract the right customers.
That’s not enough.
Your USP can’t come from you alone because you have to be telling a story people want to listen to.
To create your unique story you need to base it on:
- Something your customer is interested in
- Something you’re interested in
Let’s take spooky sea sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor.
There’s nothing he loves more than creating a statue, and sinking it to help the eco-systems. And fortunately for him, the government funding the work, loves helping the ecosystem and having something unusual that attracts tourist attention.
For Jason, this is a unique story that works.
But how do you come up with yours?
Get out a pen and paper my friend because we are going to b