How Do I Find My Unique Selling Point?

I am told that I need a decent “elevator pitch” but I am struggling to find my personal USP – please help. 

Dear perplexed,

Thank you for your question.  My long answer could fill volumes but I try and keep things short and practical so here are some things to think about: 

What do your clients or colleagues think – it is really difficult to see yourself as others do so try asking the others.  Why do they instruct you/give you business?  Don’t worry if they say something like “because I like you” not “because you are the best at what you do” – likable is good you can work with that and few professionals can claim to be the absolute best at what they do.  Most of us aim to rise above an acceptable level of competence and after that what keeps us going is almost always to do with the way we do business not the specific technical expertise we process.  People buy from people in professional services they trust so why do your clients and colleagues trust you?  

Best better only – ask yourself what are you best at, better than (most) of your competition at, the only professional to do.  Again think more widely than professional competence.   

Distinctive is more achievable than different –  don’t worry too much about being totally different from everyone else, the important thing is that clients understand what it is you can do for them.  This kiss of death is to be vague.  Or to try and cover too many bases. What is really important?  In my world it has frequently turned out to be a really detailed understanding of the sectors I work in (which have frequently been somewhat opaque to the casual observer).   This is particularly important when most of the people that give you business don’t actually do what you do so aren’t necessarily in a position to tell if you are any good at it. They are in a position to know if you seem to understand their business and the sector they work in however. 

Don’t forget the visuals – does your personal presentation match your elevator pitch/personal brand? As I write this I am in covid lockdown but my work wardrobe is still intact – not for me the half packet fleece and hair tied back.  I’m in my 50s so I zoom in makeup with my hair brushed and my ear-rings in.  I can’t tell other people how to market themselves and their business if I don’t practice what I preach.  I know someone who wears something orange at all times – it’s his creative agency’s brand colour and he wants to be seen walking the walk. It works.

Practise it out load – like all presentations, things sounds much less coherent often when you say them out loud then when they are in your head. Try it out on your family/flatmates – if they laugh too hard you probably haven’t cracked it yet.

I hope that helps. And that your family don’t laugh at your too much.

Related: How to Take Your Digital Marketing From Naïve to Native