Find What Distinguishes You From Your Competitors

    September 9, 2005

U.S.P., in marketing, is the acronym for unique selling proposition. This is asking, “What distinguishes you from similar products or services, even businesses as a whole?”

After using the USP method to uncover the uniqueness of my products and services, I continued to find them difficult to name. Because of this, I developed a list of 50 easy-to- answer questions to help me get through the process quickly. [Please allow product and service to mean the same thing for simplicity sake in this article.

First, select an equal playing competitor. If not equal, choose one that is as closely matched as possible. Even if you are selling apples, be careful on the choice of characteristics. A Granny Smith apple is different from a Winesap apple. Both are consumed by similar markets but they have much different uses in cooking. Be mindfully open, somewhere there is a similar apple — guaranteed.

Second, gather all their product information. Lay the material before you, make a list of the features and benefits. Read and compared line-by-line if needed. I like to use the abbreviation!/s S and D (similar/different). If you didn!/t come up with anything or your list is small, that is okay, this happens to me a lot. Your mind isn!/t seeing them. The questions below will build on your list and expand your view.

If you offer a new service, match target markets, and select one that is less than two years ahead of your success. If their product is too far ahead, you will suffer from “measurement stress”. This will please your inner critic but test your passion and sabotage your commitment.

After you have completed whatever list you could do, use these questions to continue expanding:

1. Make a list of their product benefits?

2. What are the benefits your product offers?

3. Identify the features they have that you don’t have?

4. Identify the features that you have? Compare.

5. What features are better in their product.

6. What features are better in yours?

7. Why are they better (from a buyers perspective)?

8. What is their price?

9. What is your price?

10. Why is your price different?

11. What emotional needs/desires does your product meet?

12. What physical needs/desires does your product meet?

13. Does your product sell better at different times of the year? And if so, why?

14. Are any of your competitors local? If so, where are they?

15. What is the size of your competitor!/s business?

16. Where is this competitor marketing? Find their ads, always keep them in your file.

17. What age and gender are they marketing to? Is the same as yours?

18. What income level are they marketing to? What are you marketing to?

19. What type of customer care do they offer? Research and find out.

20. What type of customer care are you going to offer? What!/s different about your customer care or how can it be?

21. Do you offer a special type of advice that they don’t? If so, what?

22. If you offer confidentiality, in what ways do you offer this?

23. How is your confidentiality different than your competitors? Or is it the same?

24. How fast does your competitor fulfill orders?

25. What type of answers do they have for their product? Do they offer a FAQ (frequently asked question page)?

26. How fast do they answer questions? Submit one and find out.

27. Do they offer a range of payment methods or are they limited? What will be yours?

28. What is their customer service policy? Write yours and know the difference.

29. How many ways can people contact them?

30. What are their “availability” hours?

31. Do they offer product discounts? What are their break points?

32. How do they ship? Is it fr*ee or discounted in some way?

33. Do they offer value-added incentives? This could be in the form of complimentary documentation or time, newsletters, or other items. What can you offer that is better?

34. Do they offer gifts? Are they special or common? What do customers have to purchase to get them?

35. Create a list of unique, customer valued gifts, that you might use make theirs eat dust?

36. What special skills do their employees offer? What are yours?

37. Does their staff have some special type of training? Do you or can you get?

38. What makes you excited about selling this product?

39. How long have they been in business? Where are they on the product maturity line? Where are you?

40. If you haven’t been in business as long, can you explain your quick success?

41. What do customers say about them? What do yours say? Similar is good but unique statements help more.

42. What statistics do you have on your product that you can use to show your uniqueness?

43. Do they have any celebrity endorsements? You can you get that is already known by your customers?

44. How many ways does the product change people life styles or mindset?

45. How long does their product last by the customer? And yours?

46. Where is the product in the trend line with customers?

47. How frequently does your competitor introduce something new in order to stay on the cutting edge? And you?

48. How fast can they get their product to their customers? Can you do better?

49. Were they the first in developing this product? How long ago was that? Do you have newness as an advantage?

50. Location can be a key. Where is your office or distribution house located? Can you create more than one location? Do they have other locations?

Always remember, everyone wants to eat at restaurants that have the most cars in the parking lot? Customers trust that if other people are eating there, they must have good food and service. Your answers to these questions will help keep your parking lot full.

Catherine is a veteran entrepreneur and communications
master coach. Additional articles, newsletters, workshops,
and other information is available at: