Does your practice have a unique selling point (USP)? This is something that makes you stand out in the market – it’s what makes you distinctive to your clients and differentiates you from your competition. It gives you that je ne sais quoi, and it’s a quality that should be highlighted in your firm from your brand positioning through to the services you offer. A
USP is crucial for businesses, and is an essential strategy for accountancy and bookkeeping firms. These days, people tend to do most of their research online, and a solid USP can make you stand head and shoulders above competitors in what is a very crowded market.
Identifying your USP
A USP could be a wide variety of things. Many see it as a specialism in an industry such as construction or the non-profit sector; for others it is a less tangible concept like exceptional customer service. Whatever your USP, you should be able to look at your firm and identify the differentiator in every aspect of your business. To define your unique selling point, ask yourself this critical question: Why would prospective clients choose me over my competition? Why should they?The answers to these questions can vary from “I’m the only accounting firm that specialises in construction in my region” to “I specialise in Asian entrepreneurial business ventures and understand the cultural business nuances for this segment.” They could also be very definite like “I provide the most exceptional customer service experience to my clients through my online portal.”
Is your USP integral throughout every part of your practice?
Your USP is a key component of your brand; and your brand should echo in every segment of your practice. This basically means:
- The services you provide to your clients are aligned with your USP
- The way in which you deliver your services is aligned with your USP
- The way in which you market your services exploits your USP
Manchester-based Tree Accountancy recognised their USP by understanding that not only were they able to provide specialist services to the creative and digital industries in the North West, but also they understood that their clients were increasing interacting digitally, and were looking for the same kind of interaction across the financial side of their businesses.
Tree developed their online management services in keeping with their clients’ needs, and are now specialists in this service. Client Manager Aaron Cullen told us: “The industry has adjusted, so we have adapted to give the client the direction they need. Our aim is to be the client’s financial controller and be part of their team. By using online services we are able to do this, and provide the same service as we would if we were located within their office.”
Integrating your USP into your services
If you have identified that your USP is your ability to provide custom dashboards that update dynamically to provide Key Performance Indicators (KPI), but only 10% of your client base uses these dashboards, your USP isn’t resonating as it should be. You either need to re-evaluate your USP, or look to build that exposure in your client base and encourage people to make the most of this tool.
How you deliver your services
Something else to consider when identifying your USP is not just how it integrates with the services you offer, but how it effects delivering those services. For example, if your USP is specialising in a particular industry, but you don’t speak the language or understand the terms of that industry, how can you be an expert? You need to make sure that the ways in which you interact with your customers reflect your USP, because all elements need to work together to reiterate to current clients – and future prospects – why they did, or should, choose you as their accountant.
How to convey your USP
It goes without saying; your USP needs to be at the forefront of all your marketing messages, as it is a brand principle for your firm. If your brand is the essence of your business, think of your USP as the lifeblood. Where one exists, so must the other.Branding doesn’t just consist of marketing messages, literature and logos. See your brand as your definition, and your differentiator is the exclamation point of that sentence. To maximise your USP, it must be consistently conveyed and consistently present everywhere.
- Should be easy to understand from the homepage of your website
- Should be compelling enough to entice people; make them want to find out more about you
- Should be something you are passionate about
- Should be something that you can clearly articulate
- Should be obvious in the services you offer your clients
- Should be obvious in the way you conduct your business
- Should be emphasised in all company communications, social media and literature
- Should align with the values of your target market
- Should be included on your business cards (visually or in written form)
Getting across what your USP is should be easy if it is visible on all your means of contact. Identify keywords that not only draw attention to it, but also clearly express the benefits of your firm’s niche service to clients. These keywords and messages should be part of your brand’s foundation. Just as you wouldn’t produce marketing materials that physically don’t resemble your brand’s logo and colours, you wouldn’t produce materials that don’t utilise your USP and the elements involved in effectively communicating it.
Your USP is the reason why clients choose you. It’s the thing that resonates with them and why they gravitate towards your business over your competition. It’s what you do best, and hopefully, better than anyone else. A solid USP can even bring you increased revenues, client growth, and more satisfied clients overall. Telling people what makes you special isn’t bragging – it’s taking ownership of your strengths. When you find the right way to position these strengths and to make sure the entire culture of your firm supports those assets, you will be well and truly on the path to true brand meaning.