USP Unusuals

“There are only so many ways you can overcome a challenge . . . I don’t believe in unique selling points; it’s often about unusual selling points. All you’ve got to do is have multiple unusual things that you do that not everyone’s doing. So that’s mainly what we were doing: we didn’t look externally for answers; we looked at all the tools we had, we got the best people in the room to think about how we could do it.”

The above paragraph [from behind London's Times paywall] shares the experience of someone co-founding a (now digital) marketing agency back in 2005. Recently diluting their ownership until no longer involved, as growth sees 38 sites with 2,200 staff.

Regardless of the backstory, is there anything in this angle?

I recall once in New York asking a team of highly remunerated tech-based solution salespeople what they thought their USP was. Not a single one knew what those three letters meant.

Perhaps nowadays, recognition would be even less. Given the rise in POD (Point of Difference) slants.

Nevertheless, the 'U' is the key. Unique.

And I would argue, it is mistakenly dismissed by the above citation.

Having something genuinely unique, that is the cornerstone of what the potential buyer wants, sets you apart like nothing else.

I deigned to ask Google on the difference;

Unique means “the only one;” “nothing else like it”.
Unusual just means “not often occurring”.
You can't say “this is more unique than that,” because, by definition, uniqueness can't be compared.

What's intriguing here for me (beyond questioning the latter sentence above), is acceptance of when not necessarily having a sole, nailed on, overtly evident unique.

You could have a unique indeed hallowed as one of a kind, exclusive to you, sui generis to get fancy. Yet one not directly appreciated, let alone expressed as desired, by the prospect. (In which case, why are you bidding?)

You could have a unique which competing interests claim they do too. This is nearly always a misdirection on their part. Smokes and mirrors to basically say a deflecting 'yes' to everything to win the signature.

You could have a unique that's acknowledged as such but under-valued by the purchaser. The premium that you expect this to command fails to match their judgement of the impact. This is rarer, and requires (revisiting) proper solution selling to justify the difference.

Experience suggests that in order to prevail, a unique outguns any unusual.

So maybe it is more prevalent when such singular 'selling point' is absent. Then you can still compete, and win, by stacking multiple 'unusuals'.

I can kind of see how in the digital marketing world (the withering classic Hunter S Thompson quote, shifted from music industry to internet marketers, uncomfortably springs to mind) true uniques may well be trickier to pin down.

In such sphere, from where does true differentiation emerge?

If everyone uses the same tools, can offer the same glow of testimonial pleasure, and speaks of their super-special (dare I say, UX) culture, then what else may exist?

In which case, a list of unusuals may indeed come into play.

In fact, the mere framing of them as such can perhaps be a unique in itself.

Especially with someone weary of hearing indistinguishable pitches, recognising that a crowded space rewards the different approach, or simply keen to partnering with the appeal of being able to maybe learn from more than beyond the mere act of delivery.

'Everyone says they're unique in this pursuit. Fair enough. Yet we strive to keep being unusual. And here's how...'

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