📄 The why of USP research before anything else


Last year I released SIBG, a mini-training on the different stages of business growth, the ingredients that go with each of them, and which ingredients to use... or indeed, to leave alone for the time being.

Fun fact: it's pretty safe to say, that every one of the ingredients are best left alone, until you've figured out the most important ingredient: Your USP.

Fail to understand your USP (which is the answer to "Why do, or should people buy from you, and not someone else"), and it's very easy to make fatally costly mistakes, especially if you start trying growth or scale tactics.

For instance, it can be an attractive option to try lead-generation by running automated outreach campaigns, using LinkedIn or email marketing.

The problem with that is not that it doesn't get you leads - the problem is that it does.

But wait, we're in business, we want sales, and for that we need leads - right?

Yes. But there's quality leads, and there's leads that are a complete waste of your time, for a number of reasons (no budget, no time, no urgency, no personality fit, etc etc).

So if you invest a few thousand dollars in advertising, and you drum up 20 leads a week, and you have to have a meeting with each of them... you'd better be damn sure that the majority of those people are actually qualified.

And this is where people often go wrong:

They focus so hard on generating leads in quantity, that they forget that efficiency comes from engaging with qualified leads - which, in the context of USP, are people who would prefer you over others, if only you'd be able to communicate why you're different from others, in a way that clicks with them.

The result is usually frustration, wasted time, lost money, and a whole bunch of sales conversations that aren't ever going to go anywhere.

Put differently:

Don't look to scale up your efforts or your lead generation, until you've figured out your goto market strategy with predictable reliability, which necessarily means knowing with precision why people choose you, and not somebody else.

And for that predictability and reliability to develop, you need to do things that don't scale, especially if you want to discover your USP. Meaning: instead of driving lead generation at scale, start a research campaign, and learn your people first.

Because that way you'll be so hands-on, that you get direct, live feedback on how well your targeting and messaging are working.

So if you're not 100% clear on your USP, schedule meetings with people, and ask them about their problems.

Not only will a USP research campaign give you the data you need to target leads with efficiency and precisions, it can also get you potential buyers that you can make an offer to.


By ending your USP research questions with:

"Once I conclude my research and develop a programme to address the issue you've told me about, would you like me to let you know?"

Not everyone will say yes - but if you interview 20 people, it's likely that 10 will give you permission to follow up, and it's likely that one or two of those turn into a client.

And no, that doesn't scale.

But when you land those clients, you'll have verified exactly which type of buyer will pay for your work, and that means you'll be able to seek out exclusively the kind of buyer who's exactly like them.

Here's more info on how to conduct this kind of customer research, and how to figure out exactly what is your USP.

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