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  • Writer's picturePeter McKenzie

Do you have a "Unique Selling Point"? If not, here is how to find it...

Last week I read an article by Ali Parandeh explaining in detail how entrepreneurs should highlight their USP or Unique Selling Point by comparing this to their competitor’s strengths. It is a brilliant article on how to position a new venture in the tough start-up market (here it is).

It made me think about how this same concept can be applied to individuals. You and I live and work in competitive environments. We also need to stand out from the crowd to be successful. We need to identify our own personal unique selling point.

In my experience, this is not something that comes naturally. Over the course of my career, I have hired hundreds of people and given thousands of interviews. A stock question I ask is:

“Why should we hire you?”

It is so obvious that everyone should have prepared an answer for it. The disappointing thing is that most people churn out stock answers such as:

“I am a hard worker”

“I am a people person”

“I get the job done”

“I love to learn new things...”


Whilst all of these answers may seem to be valid, they are not unique and they certainly don´t sell.

Steve Jobs had a motto:

“Be Unique, Be different”

Even though most people don´t think about it, we are all unique in some way.

So how do you find your “USP”?

Here is the method to follow:

- Start by writing down your target market

What are you looking for? A job in what industry? A promotion in your current company? A new position in a club you are a member of? Perhaps you are looking for a new partner? Think about the standard requisites for that role. This gives you a definition of the baseline competition that you are up against.

- Now list all of the things that you have done in your life

Just brain dump all of the things that you can think of, your jobs, the places you have lived, the hobbies you have had, skills acquired, lessons learned, achievements, adventures, obstacles overcome. List it all out

- Next list out your positive characteristics and core values

Examples of characteristics are resilience, humor, dependability, strength, empathy, humor, adaptability, persistence, optimism…

Examples of core values are Honesty, fairness, loyalty, transparency, courage…

- Finally, review everything you have written and circle the things that stand out to you

What are you proud of? What would you include in your elevator pitch? What would make it into your autobiography? What would entertain people if you told them it at a party? What combinations of the words on the page look unusual – something that stands out and at the same time defines who you are?

In summary, define your market, identify your standard competition, identify your unique stand-out experience, characteristics, and values and you have identified your USP. The final piece of the process is not just to tell people what your USP is but also to show them how it is of value and fits what they need.

Here is an example:

Suppose I want to get a new job as a CFO. I can tell my potential employer that I have 25 years of experience in the field of Finance. I can add that I have worked in Banking and Real Estate across several European Countries. Not just that, I am disciplined, hard-working and a results getter.

Convincing? Or am I just the same as the rest of the candidates?

What happens if I add that apart from being a CFO, I am also an active communications coach, public speaker, and executive coach, all demonstrating skills I have that I believe are vital to being an effective leader and CFO. Perhaps now that creates more interest?

What if I also say that I have run 22 half marathons and 4 full marathons, demonstrating my values of resilience and persistence which I carry into all fields of my personal and professional life.

Then I can add that have tried my hand at being an amateur comedian on stage, demonstrating that I am not the archetypical grey accountant, that humor is important to me in management and life (and additionally I am not at all ego-centrical, willing to risk looking quite stupid!)

I think you get the idea…

Now don´t be too humble! You are selling yourself, so you need to bring out all of the things that set you apart from the competition.

That is how you build and sell your USP. Go try it for yourself and you will see the difference it makes.

If you need help defining your USP, reach out to me. I will be glad to help!

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