In business, there is no greater virtue than uniqueness.
In offices across the world, salespeople talk about their USP (Unique Sales Proposition) or UVP (Unique Value Proposition). In creating a positioning statement, you identify what you do better and differently than your competition.
And if you want to raise investment dollars for your new startup, you’ll need to be able to extol your “differentiator” before the elevator discharges its passengers at the next floor.
The USP dates back at least to Rosser Reeves, one of the lions of Madison Avenue advertising, and an executive at the famous Ted Bates agency. The notion was a strong one in the advertising of the time, and no ad would pass muster if it didn’t somehow communicate the USP. And while it may not have been spoken of in exactly these terms, great merchants like John Wanamaker innately understood that they needed to stand out amongst their competitors.
It isn’t necessary to be unique across the entire world, unless you plan on being a global business. If you are the only podiatrist in Kingston, NY that offers special services for marathon runners, then you can pretty much own that market in Kingston, NY.
There are plenty of businesses that aren’t that unique and that blend in with other businesses like them. The gas stations in my area are forever 1-upping one another with a penny per gallon difference, or by selling potato chips, but really, I’m not that fussy in my choices. There are countless attorneys per square-foot in our neighborhood, but the only differentiator I’ll be using is that one gets recommended by a friend.
So, before developing our business uniqueness, we do need to understand in what market we wish to be unique, and that brings us back that primary foundational concept, our vision. Vision, in turn, originates with our values. Truly, there is no business without values.
Values become vision, which in turn is the motivation for uniqueness. Because without uniqueness we stand elbow to elbow with the other people selling the same thing in the same way – and there is no great change. Vision isn’t required to stay the same – you just have to look out the window to see what’s already there. To see what isn’t there, you have to look within.