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Using a USP to Quickly Connect With Prospects

By: Maria Marsala

Maria Marsala is a trained Business & Life Coach and graduate of Coach University. Prior to forming Maria's Place for Holistic Evolution, she was a trader and manager on Wall Street and a director at a non-profit company in NY. Maria is also an Internet writer, hosts a monthly OnLine column for the Seattle New Times, and is the Business Calendar Manager for the Kitsap Business Journal. She maintains her own websie which is located at www.coachmaria.com.


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The acronym USP (Unique Selling Proposition) was created by Rosser Reeves, marketing expert in the 1960's. Over time, his concept has been used by others, called different names by different individuals and pretty much has taken on a life of its own. You might know about this concept, but call it a Unique Selling Advantage (USA), Competitive Advantage, Elevator Speech or 30-Second Commercial. Dennis S. Vogel, Internet author, says, "The biggest words for each of them is UNIQUE!" One thing that seems to be consistent is that USPs work best when they're short and get your point across - fast! During a recent teleclass I attended, held by Jay Conrad Levinson, author of The Guerilla Marketing Handbook, mentioned creating a 7 word USP.

Have you ever had someone introduce themselves, using their title, and then you tuned out the rest of their introduction? Have you ever introduced yourself to someone and watched an invisible wall come up between the two of you?

When we tell people "what we are" instead of how our services can benefit them or "who" we are, walls often pop up. So how can you get and possibly keep someone's attention? Learn to introduce your business credentials, without using your title. Create a few business and personal USPs.

For example: If you're at a networking meeting, you'll first shake the other person's hand and then state your name. Other things you might add to your USP are:
  1. What makes the work you do unique as compared to others in similar careers.

  2. Something special about your business and how it can benefit your new acquaintance.

  3. An open ended question such as "tell me about your business so that I can tell others about you", "how long have you been in business and/or lived in this area?" etc.

  4. State your title somewhere in between what you say, vs. saying it at the beginning.

  5. Say something "daring" like "I'm in the happiness business, is there an area in your life you'd like to make happier"

  6. If you have something new you're promoting, don't be afraid to change your USP to include it.
Once you've written what you want to say, ask your clients questions about what makes your business stand out, what you offer that is of the highest quality, etc. Why? You want to state the benefits of doing business with you from the clients' perspective, not yours-and I can tell you that what you see as a benefit of doing business with you may not be what your clients feel.

Creating a few different business and personal USPs, then practicing them, can make the difference between connecting with people and not connecting. So practice your new introduction on everyone you know until the words feel comfortable to you... Practice in the mirror... and tell everyone you know you'd like to borrow them to practice, too.

Additional information on USPs can be found on the Internet at:


© 2002 Maria Marsala, Business & Life Coach, All Rights Reserved

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