I’ve touched on the concept of developing a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) before when I wrote about how everyone is a consultant even when they think they are not. Developing your USP is part of developing your personal brand and this article will focus on defining your USP.

Whether you are selling your organisation’s services or your own, you must stand out. It is a crowded world and with the barriers to entry so low, you need to let your prospects or potential employers know what it is you can do for them, and why they should choose you, over your competitors.

As a start, think about who this will be directed at. Is it potential employers? Or prospects that you hope to convert into paying customers.

Next, you should be thinking about what it is that you can do better than everyone else. Think about the skills that you have grown over a career. The skills that have served you well when you have moved from job to job or project to project. This can be difficult and many people will immediately suggest that others are better at the things they are good at. This might be true, and you should, therefore, think about what combination of skills will give you that edge. So for example, I consider myself knowledgeable when it comes to strategy and business operations, but I know some are much better at this than me. However, when I add my information technology, data, and people skills, I now begin to build a very compelling proposition. To get you started on this, it would be worth asking your previous (and current) clients or employer, “Why did you hire me?”. This will often give you some surprising insight.

Once you have done this, describe these skills in more detail so that it is clear what it is you can and what problems you can solve. Also, write down what the benefit to a potential client or employer will be if they choose you. Describe how you would do this. You’ll most likely come up with quite a bit of detail and your next challenge is to condense this into a summarised version that you could easily describe in around 90 seconds. This is referred to as your elevator pitch, being able to describe your USP in the time it takes for an elevator ride.

Very importantly, this summarised version needs to be understandable by anyone. Even your grandmother. Don’t use any jargon. Don’t use any technical terms. Don’t use any acronyms. Practice this and be prepared to deliver it smoothly, when asked, what is it that you do?

You should now have a clearly defined USP, that you can describe at the drop of a hat, to a potential client or employer. But wait, you are not done yet! You need to constantly refine this message and make sure it is relevant, well understood, and gets you that progress that you want.