Dare to be... similar?

It’s Marketing 101, taught to business start-ups everywhere, often by business consultants who are - ironically - all quite similar themselves: “You need a differentiator,” they say within minutes of meeting you. “What’s your Unique Selling Proposition?

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We’ll be honest. The USP approach, FWIW, is a bit of BS - although we’ve been on both sides (client and agency) so maybe we know too much about how the sausage is made.

Yes, absolutely: in order to succeed in business, you should be original in your branding, and excellent in your customer service and execution.

But beyond that, these business consultants are not necessarily practicing what they preach. There are only so many ways to be a marketing agency; a computer company; an ice cream shop; and even a business consultant - if one more of them tells us to read “Zero to One” or “Blue Ocean Strategy”...

If every one of these businesses tried to define their USP before opening up their doors, they’d never get started.

Much better advice? Be unique enough to be able to say how it is that you’re different from Microsoft or Baskin-Robbins. But then, just sell great laptops and ice cream cones. Dare to be similar enough so you don’t need to re-invent the wheel; don’t get paralyzed by trying to define your USP.

The rest will take care of itself.

Jeff Funnekotter