Over the weekend I was chatting with another freelancer and he was asking my advice regarding the concept of the USP – the Unique Selling Point. Despite reading my other advice on creating a USP for his freelance business, he was stuck. He commented that Everybody else was doing the exact same thing as he was, so where was his USP?
Actually, I explained, if everybody was doing the same as him (which I doubt they are anyway, but I let that pass), the answer was staring him right in the face – do what they won’t.
Regardless of the business type, there are things that we all have to do to make business and money. Most of the time, these are all bolt-on’s to the main service. Now whilst there is good money to be had for charging for these services, if you are really struggling to create a USP, why not make these items part of the service? So ideas may be:
- If others charge travel time, travel expenses (a few pence per mile) and meeting time, include these in your prices
- If others charge for the initial consultation and meeting, include these in your prices
- If others ring fence their service and wont touch certain things (“I don’t do user documentation”), make yours a full service and do the other work
- If others refuse to meet with clients, go to the meetings
- If others don’t like to do handover visits or user training, make the effort and make this your USP
- If others take all the money up front, make yours invoiceable at the end of the project, 30 days net – so time to pay
- If others lock source code, SQL procedures and other products to retain copyright, offer an Intellectual Property Right Transfer
- Where others don’t make the effort, go the extra step, and make this your USP
Careful thought and budget/pricing management is required to get your money for the work, but a USP does not have to be the latest wiz or bang – it can be just doing something that others won’t – and so saves somebody a headache.
Of course, as a small or freelance business gets more customers and so a stronger story, the USP can evolve to be more about your products and skills. But when stuck on the initial USP, the ‘can do’ attitude is a good starting USP point.