Monday, February 26, 2007

How Important is 'USP' in the Relationship Economy?

Twice in the last fortnight I have been asked by people how they get across their 'Unique Selling Proposition' to people they meet at networking events.

We have been told by marketing experts for many years how important it is to have a 'USP'. What is it that makes us different from our competitors? Why should people choose us and not someone else?

There is no doubt that it remains important for businesses to have a clear understanding of what their strengths are and where they stand out from the crowd. I am not so sure, however, quite how relevant this is in a networking environment. After all, we are also continually reminded that 'people buy people'.

At a networking event, or as part of a networking group, you will benefit much more by getting to know people and building a relationship that you ever will by creating the perfect marketing message that highlights your USP. More importantly than people buying people, people refer people they know, like and trust.

Yes, once people know, like and trust you, you want to build their understanding of your business so that they are in a better position to refer you. At that point a strong knowledge of your strengths in the market place are important. You can also use your USP to help you focus people on who you want to speak to, in other words, who in particular needs what you are best placed to provide?

In other words, as the relationship develops you can educate people about your USPs. However, the relationship must come first.

Yesterday I was talking about the first person to raise this question with me. Try as I might, I couldn't remember her USP. But I remember her.

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