In the winning zone VS risky business? How different to the competition are you, really?

Whether pitching for new business or tidying up your social media profiles, a crisp, unique selling proposition (or USP) can make all the difference. But if, like many other agents, you use ‘passion’ and ‘trust’ as your significant differentiators, is it all that unique?

When a potential client asks, “Why should I use you?” have you ever found yourself saying any of the below?

  • We are a long-established firm
  • We have the most experienced team 
  • I’m a trusted professional
  • We use the latest technology
  • I’m passionate about real estate.

Many folks in the industry declare these statements as what’s unique about them – but unfortunately, when everyone says the same things, it’s not unique at all.

Why is USP important?

In the absence of any differentiation that is noticeable or valued, the decision will usually come down to price – and that is the slippery slope where discounting and fee erosion occur.

Perry Marshall defines USP as, “Why should I buy from you right now, instead of buying anything else from anybody else next week?”

He says if you have a great answer to that question, you can charge more money, have better margins, put more money into marketing and so on.

“If you have a lousy answer to that question, you’re in trouble before you even start….”

And I couldn’t agree more.

If a USP is well-crafted, it can help you win more business:

  • It’s makes marketing easier by being able to articulate a problem you solve for a specific group of people
  • It empowers you to confidently share why someone should work with you over someone else
  • It allows you to deftly handle objections when it comes to a listing presentation or sales pitch.

The elevator pitch

You might have heard the term ‘elevator pitch’ – that is a pretty useful thing to help you articulate a unique value proposition or selling point quickly.

Here is a simple four-step formula that can help you create yours:

  • What do you do (the problem you solve, the job you get done, the experience you deliver)? 
  • Who is your ideal client?
  • What does your service result in?

And lastly, this is the one not many people use but is worth bonus points as far as the consumer is concerned. And that is:

  • Make me a negative promise; what won’t I have to deal with if I list with you? What bad outcome will you avoid? What unpleasant, risky or time-consuming thing will I not have to deal with as a result of working with you?

Here are some examples of crisply worded elevator pitches:

  • Dominos – We will deliver you a fresh, hot pizza in 20 minutes, or it’s free.
  • Elite Agent – We provide real estate agents with the best and brightest in the real estate industry without the bad news, scaremongering, and clickbait you generally see in other media outlets.

Unique value propositions

Some people also call what we’re talking about here a unique value proposition (UVP), but it’s actually quite different to a USP. While a USP is about your services, features or benefits, a UVP is all about value, your processes and/or a higher purpose.

For example:

  • A UVP could be a particular process (or way of doing things) that differentiates you from your competition that the customer sees value in because it saves time and/or lowers risk.
  • It could be a lighthouse of values or a higher purpose that your customers care about and your employees can be proud of (e.g. Virgin is a great example of this).

How do you win?

In a world where competition is high and it’s getting harder to differentiate, you might need several UVPs, and here is where you should regularly ask yourself a series of questions to figure out what you can deliver that, literally, no one else can. 

So let’s assess your services by looking at them through three separate lenses: 

  • What you or your brand do well
  • What your competition does well
  • What the consumer cares about (saving time, lowering risk, making money).

Note: If you’ve been doing things the same way for a while now without review, what you thought was your USP might now be outdated; it’s actually good practice to look at your USP regularly.

The winning zone: 

The clear intersection of what the consumer wants and what your brand does well. Emphasise this in your marketing and face-to-face meetings through an educational approach and you have a winning value proposition.

The losing zone:

The intersection of what the customer wants and what your competitors do well. You’ll need to focus on something else (do you have a unique process that provides the wow factor?) or a different part of your service where you can win.

The “who cares” zone:

This one is more common than you might think – it’s the intersection of what your brand does well and what your competitor does well… but it is not something the customer actually cares about.

So much time gets wasted here articulating features and benefits of stuff you might be providing that doesn’t speak to the customer’s core issues of saving time, increasing return or lowering personal risk.

Time to focus on the important stuff: It’s worth doing a personal audit and asking yourself whether the customer really cares about that aspect of your service.

Or, are you still doing something because you’ve always done it this way?

The “risky business” zone:

I actually love this one because this is where some great marketing can occur.

The “risky business” zone is the intersection of what your brand does well, what the consumer wants and what your competitors also do well. 

But you can STILL win if you are clever.

So the secret sauce here is looking at your processes, articulating the benefits well and even going so far as to give it a unique name. 

Then articulate and educate the customer on the benefits of your process rather than focusing on the traditional sales pitch.  

Because at the end of the day, the ‘how’ will always be way more powerful than the ‘what’.

USP 21 question checklist

Here are some questions to brainstorm in your next team meeting to help you find your own uniqueness vs the competition.

  1. Can you advertise that your service has been uniquely crafted for a particular demographic, occupation or investor profile? 
  2. Is there a specific problem you solve that others don’t? 
  3. Can you emphasise something unique or special about yourself and your experience? 
  4. Can you emphasise that you have a ‘system’ that’s consistent, reliable, thorough, foolproof, or unusually effective? 
  5. Is there anything special about your service?
  6. Do you have a higher purpose or company values that would appeal to your demographic?
  7. Is there something unique about your track record or that of your service? 
  8. Is there something unique about the environment or surroundings you provide for your customers? 
  9. Do you have a unique method/mechanism for getting your result that your competitors don’t, or makes for a story worth telling? 
  10. Can you give your sales or property management process a unique brand name or Trademark of its own? 
  11. Is the quality of your product or service demonstratively better than your competitors?
  12. Can you create a higher-end version of your product or service?
  13. Do you offer a lower grade or less elaborate product or service than your competitors, making it more accessible to more people? 
  14. Is your product or service customised for your customer in a way your competitors are not? 
  15. Can you create a customised service for your customer? 
  16. Do you offer a complete done-for-you (DFY) version or service that your competitors do not? 
  17. Do you offer a do-it-yourself (DIY) version or service that your competitors do not? 
  18. Do you offer a done-with-you (DWY) version or service that combines DIY and DFY elements? 
  19. Is there something unique about the overall experience of doing business with you?
  20. Do you combine and bundle your service with your other services or products in a way that your competitors do not?
  21. Is there something unique or special about your price or pricing model?

Can you truly differentiate in your business?

Learn more about starting the process of truly differentiating and becoming more profitable at Elite Retreat in August. 

Download a program here.

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Samantha McLean

Samantha McLean is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Elite Agent and Host of the Elevate Podcast.