Do you know what your USP is? Do you know what a USP is?
It's alright if you don't. But from this point on, it's imperative that you do because it's the heart of your business. In fact, your USP is your identity. So knowing your business identity is knowing exactly what you stand for in terms of how you best serve your customers. It's how you stand out from the crowd.
USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition. It's the single most important element of your business.
Every business needs a USP. Why? Because it tells your customers exactly what they're getting. As an appraiser, it's that statement or catch-phrase that differentiates you from other appraisers.
Your USP enables you to stand head and shoulders above your competition.
Your USP has ZERO to do with YOU and EVERYTHING to do with YOUR CUSTOMER.
I'm going to repeat that because it's critical to the growth of your business and to the growth of your bank account...
Your USP has nothing to do with you and everything to do with your customer.
Your USP is 100% customer benefit driven. Meaning, how are you of unique benefit and value to your client? To bring it home, why would someone hire you as opposed to another appraiser? What sets you apart? What do you offer your customers that others don't, or that others don't highlight?
How to Stand Out From the Crowd
Here are some classic examples of USPs that you might be familiar with. These USPs have made each of these companies billions of dollars...
Dominoes Pizza: Fresh hot pizza in 30 minutes or less
Federal Express: When it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight
Apple Ipod: 1000 songs in your pocket
Google: Providing access to the world's information in one click
Now, each of these companies had competition. There were lots of pizza joints, lots of courier services, lots of audio devices, and several search engines. But these 4 companies broke from the pack because they were very specific in their vision and how they chose to serve customers.
Let's take a look at Dominoes Pizza as an example, and how you can use them and their USP as a model for your business.
There were certainly hundreds of other pizza joints and chains that delivered pizza. But Dominoes came up with a UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION that made them stand out from all the rest. When a college student hears they can get a pizza in less than half an hour, you know they're not thinking of any other pizza joint. They want pizza, and they want it NOW! An automatic ready and waiting built in fan base.
When a tired mom needs to feed her 3 hungry and cranky kids NOW, and there's no food in the house, who does she think of? Dominoes became Savior of hungry, budget-starved college students and desperate parents across the country, and they became the Terminator of all other pizza parlors because of this simple, concise, benefit driven USP. Fresh, hot pizza in 30 minutes or less.
The same for Federal Express. Who on earth thought that another upstart courier service could compete with the US Postal Service or UPS? They both had overnight service. For years. But FedEx brilliantly positioned themselves by shining a bright light on this one specific thing...overnight delivery...and guaranteeing it!
FedEx didn't have to create anything, just like Dominoes didn't have to create anything. Both companies simply focused on the most important customer benefits in their market—FAST, TIME SPECIFIC DELIVERY and A GUARANTEE---and made it their brand, their identity. No one else in their market did this. Brilliant.
And you can do the same.
Elements of a Great USP
Notice that there are elements about each of the USPs above, qualities that must be present in order to capture the minds and hearts of your potential customers.
First, a USP is stated in one sentence or phrase. You know immediately and specifically exactly what you're getting. And there's no doubt in your mind what the company is giving you.
Second, your USP must be benefit driven. Completely and totally benefit driven. Ask yourself: "In what way does my business add value to my client's life and needs? How does what I offer solve their problem like no other appraiser can?"
Which leads us to the third element. Your USP must solve a problem. What pain does your USP alleviate? What itch does your service scratch?
Think about your potential clients. Homeowners, attorneys, accountants, bail bondsmen, credit unions, realtors, and more. What do they want? What issues have they had with other appraisers in the past that you can solve? What is your client's biggest 'pain point?'
What problems do your customers have over and over again that isn't being serviced or solved? Once you identify it, incorporate it into your USP.
When you create a USP that includes all these elements, it will be exciting, enticing, and emotionally provocative.
A strong USP will naturally induce strong customer desire. Your client is saying to themselves, "That's it...that's what or who I've been looking for!"
You want your USP to get your potential client to say "Yes!" to you.
And when this happens, you position yourself in the market as an expert and authority.
How To Create a Great USP
Every appraiser is different. Every one. So I want you to think about HOW you're different. This isn't about ego. It's about how your difference is of great benefit and value to your client. What is it about you that's unique, special, wonderful AND can be expressed as a total benefit to your client?
Remember what I said earlier?
A USP is NEVER about YOU.
Here are some things that will help you figure out how you can stand out from the competition. Take your time to answer these questions or fill in the blank.
Who's your ideal target audience? Be specific.
Who's your competition? Be honest. Everyone has competition.
Why should I hire you as opposed to your competition?
List 10 features about your business.
List 10 benefits you offer your clients.
This is just a start. But it will help you hone and shape your message, your USP.
I know what you're saying to yourself. "Sure, I can answer the questions and do what you ask. But so will everyone else. And then we all sound the same."
Newsflash! It won't happen. Maybe 1% or less of all appraisers who read this article will do it. And it ends there. Why? Because that's human behavior.
Want proof? OK. Any pizza company had the opportunity to do what Dominoes did. Same with all the courier services like FedEx, or search engines like Google, or tech companies like Apple.
But they didn't. The competition chose to remain on the same playing field as all the other companies in their market, following the same rules, doing what's always been done, not taking the time to differentiate themselves from the pack and take a bold stance to declare, "This is who we are!"
So the few appraisers who do this exercise, take the time to truly soul search themselves and their business, and then IMPLEMENT it will be the ones who stand out from the crowd.
Here's how I know this is true. I had a thriving 'lender' based business in Southern California, one of the most competitive markets in the country. However, when the HVCC came into play I nearly went out of business because I refused to work for AMC's.
In order to survive, I had to completely rebuild my business. But in order to do that, I had to do something that differentiated my company from all other appraisal companies in terms of how I served my clients. Which I did.
In short, I began marketing myself as 'The Non-Lender Appraisal Specialist' in my area, which also became my USP. Soon after, my target audience was viewing me as being 'uniquely' qualified to handle their non-lender work since that was what I 'specialized' in. No longer was I just another appraiser! As a result, I was back up and running a whole new lucrative and thriving appraisal business within a year.
So many customers are still wallowing in a sea of trouble. Here's your chance to become their lifesaver.
As appraisers, we have a tendency to focus on our own pain while giving no thought to our customer's pain. If you re-focus, and look OUTSIDE yourself, and direct your attention on helping your customers, you'll find their pain, their trouble spots. And that's where the gold is. Find your customer's pain and alleviate it, and you'll find your glittering, shining USP...a USP that helps you to skyrocket your business.