Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is that distinct, appealing idea that sets your business apart from every other “me too” competitor.

Building your marketing around your USP is an important step on the road to winning long-term, profitable clients. It’s also a key foundation of margin improvement and growth.

The USP that you choose may touch any part of the marketing spectrum; price, service, process, quality or exclusivity.

And there are many, many, USP possibilities that you can choose from. Having said that, it’s best to adopt a proposition that addresses a gap in the market that your company can fill. And you should be able to fill your chosen gap extremely well, or better than most other businesses can.

Some examples of USPs include:

  • Having the best selection; Here the USP is “The widest choice”
  • Low price; You may offer a limited selection of products. USP here is “at the lowest prices in the market”
  • Quality or exclusivity can be a USP
  • High levels of service can be a USP
  • Superior installation times can be a USP
  • Product quality can be a USP

 You must be able to deliver on your promise

It’s counterproductive to adopt and market around a USP if you cannot fulfill the promise you promote. In fact, doing that will damage your business rather than build it.

The reason for focusing on the USP, is that it should be an integral driver of the content produced by your business. What’s the alternative? What if you don’t market from this position?

 What does your business stand for?

“When you ask a business owner to articulate clearly and concisely in one paragraph or less, his or her USP, most business owners have no answer. Why? Because they have never thought through or offered a Unique Selling Proposition. Most only have a “a me too” rudderless business that feeds solely on the momentum of the marketplace.”

Jay Abraham, Marketing Thought Leader

A harsh view? Maybe, but Jay Abraham really knows his stuff when it comes to marketing and to creating value in businesses large and small.

The reason he is so strong on this aspect of marketing, is because without it, a supplier can easily be perceived and viewed as a commodity provider, offering products or services that can be purchased for low cost and in most cases, at a low margin.

This is the opposite of being perceived as a valuing-adding partner with expertise that benefits the company buying the product or service.

Unfortunately, many contracting businesses often find themselves pigeon-holed in the commodity category. That’s not a good place to be long-term. Profit margins get eroded while your overheads stay the same or even increase.

The danger of winning event work that is not in your sweet spot

When a firm works outside of its core capability or skill set, it can find itself:

  • Working harder (achieving more turnover) than it ever has done before
  • Making less profit than it did previously

Effectively, a firm in this situation is on a treadmill, doing lots and lots of jobs that add to turnover but yield very little in the way of margin.

How do you get off the diminishing returns merry go round?

The first thing is to do is look at your margins and see where your business actually makes the best return on the work that it does. You need to be doing more of this work and much less and eventually none of, the lower margin, unprofitable work that you have been taking on.

It’s easy to say this but much harder to do, especially when you are already on the treadmill. But, if you want to get off, this is what you are going to have to do.

Many companies when they undertake this exercise are shocked at what they learn. Jobs thought to be high value based on revenue, turn out to be much less profitable then assumed they would be. More damaging, they are draining to the overall business, and can impact on the areas actually making the best profits. Usually, this is because they require skills and expertise that are not core strengths of the business.

The second thing to do: Move away from “Me Too” marketing tactics

The ideal trading position for most businesses is:
  • To have a stable client base
  • Where clients purchase products or services at profitable rates
  • Where clients purchase on a frequent or predictable basis (exhibitions offer this advantage)
  • Where the profile of the client base actively works in attracting other clients of a similar purchasing profile

You can achieve this happy situation when as a business, you market and promote your unique qualities to exhibitors that are most likely to require and value them.*

Don’t market your business without having first:
  • Examined and identified what your unique selling points are
  • Fixed clearly who it is you are best suited to serve and at which price points
  • Articulating the pressure that you relieve or the problems that you solve for your target client base

If you don’t do this, the likelihood of winning clients who value what is you do or offer and buy from you because of this, is extremely low. The good news is that by using your USP as the foundation for your marketing, you can improve margins and retain “good” clients.
And the improvements can be felt quickly once you decide to set this different course.

If you are feeling frustrated because profits aren’t growing despite doing more work than ever, take the time to evaluate who your business is really is best suited to help. Then market from that position.

*If you are getting frustrated reading this, because it sounds like an easy or trite thing to say, I apologise but I’ve been in the treadmill position myself as have some of my clients.

David O’Beirne
The Exhibition Agency Ltd
63 Vera Avenue, London N21 1RJ  
T. 0203 633 4665
M. 07858 374 051

Exhibitors Only



The views and opinions expressed in these blogs are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ESSA, its members, board or staff. Our members represent a broad range of views within the event industry, and we have provided this section of the website for their opinions to be openly heard and discussed.

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