No matter what products or services your company offers, you have competition. Even if you’re the first to market with, say, a unicorn that helps out with household chores, you’re bound to see other companies offering a similar product soon (let’s not get too caught up in the logistics of the unicorn business analogy). The only way to survive is to show that you are different and can deliver something to your customers that others cannot.
This is your unique selling proposition (USP), and it should clearly explain how you set yourself apart from your competition.
So what makes for a really, really good USP? Rather than trying to nail down a magic formula (there isn’t one), I’m going to share 4 examples of businesses that I think do a great job of connecting with customers on the basis of their USP. And, since Leverage is an Austin-based business, I’ve chosen to highlight 4 other companies headquartered in the Lone Star state.
Most vacation rental and hotel groups tend to focus on their properties’ modern amenities and nearby attractions. However, the Austin-based Bunkhouse Group has taken the opposite approach with their El Cosmico vacation rentals—they emphasize the lack of modern technology and nearby metro areas—and it’s working.
El Cosmico is a collection of tents, tepees, yurts, and trailers in sparse West Texas, near Marfa. Most rental units don’t have their own kitchens, but there is a communal cookhouse. Showers are outdoors. Cell phone reception is spotty. And somehow, Bunkhouse makes this seem amazing by tapping into a desire that many of us have to temporarily disconnect from the modern world. Check out their ‘Mananifesto’ to see how they really sell this concept.
Sometimes it pays to take the opposite approach of others in your industry. Tweet: Show how something that might be perceived as a weakness actually make you stronger and sets you apart.
Perform a Google search for ‘cloud faxing’ and you’ll find that there’s actually a pretty crowded field. Scrypt is one of many, but they manage to stand out by targeting a specific demographic: healthcare and insurance providers.
Scrypt’s cloud faxing system is HIPAA-compliant, meaning it adheres to strict regulations that have been established to keep patients’ personal healthcare information private. The average small business owner or freelancer might not need such a high level of security for their faxed documents, and as a result they probably won’t turn to Scrypt. However, Scrypt’s HIPAA-compliance standards are ideal for customers in healthcare—which is a $2.9 trillion dollar industry. Scrypt certainly isn’t hurting for having targeted its unique selling proposition to one vertical.
Don’t try to be all things to all people. Tweet: Hone in on a selling point that will appeal to a specific demographic whose needs aren’t being met by your competitors.
Fueld Films specializes in turnkey video production (meaning that if you need to film a commercial production, they’ll source an entire production team and make it happen) and currently has offices in Austin, Denver, and Salt Lake City. There are plenty of other companies that have the resources and connections necessary to put together a production crew, but Fueld Films positions themselves as the company that really connects with their clients and understands creative industries. Here’s an excerpt from their ‘About Us’ page:
Our production team gets to know you, your client and your creative idiosyncrasies. We’re the best friend you can call in the middle of the night and we’ll show up with booze, or ice cream, or that extra camera no one thought you could afford.
I’m not currently planning a large-scale video production, so I haven’t tested Fueld on their middle-of-the-night promise, but I like that they take a friendly, offbeat approach to describing their services rather than simply saying something clichéd like “We go the extra mile”. They’re able to show off their dedication in a way that is likely to appeal to clients working in creative industries.
Tweet: Don’t be afraid to sound like a real person when sharing your unique selling proposition. You’re selling to humans, so connect with them by showing the human side of your company.
Eggs may not be the easiest product to make unique, but Vital Farms has found their niche. They started as a single farm just outside of Austin, with 50 egg-laying hens roaming around plenty of open pasture space. The business now consists of about 90 family farms which collectively produce 1.5 million eggs every week. As the company has scaled, they have remained true to their original vision: they take a humane and ethical approach to chicken farming that yields high-quality eggs.
Vital Farms’ eggs aren’t cheap—a dozen typically costs between $4.99 and $8.99 at grocery stores. To be able to sell their product at such a high price point, Vital Farms has to work hard to show that the cost is worth it. Their website is full of valuable information about the benefits of pasture-raised eggs, and each carton of eggs comes with a mini-newspaper (The Vital Times) that cover topics related to sustainable agriculture and the hens raised by Vital Farms. Their significant growth in the past couple of years shows that the approach is working.
Know of any other unique businesses in Texas, or anywhere else in the US? Let me know about them in the comments!
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