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What Makes You Different? Hone Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or Perish

Jul 3, 2008
My office sells mortgages. It's not very exciting, and there are a ton of other loan officers around the country who we have to compete with. So, what do we do to be successful?

Success comes from marketing your product and service much better than your competition. Set yourself apart through your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). In our case, it's not just about selling mortgages - instead, provide a specialized loan product within the mortgage industry to insure that you can provide a service that none of your competitors can provide.

Be unique. In the mortgage industry, most of the competition will try to survive by selling low interest rates and fees. Good luck to them. Unfortunately for them, though, they don't stand out among the crowds of other loan officers who are offering the same exact thing.

Specifically, in the example of a mortgage office, you could provide a niche product such as an owner builder construction loan. Owner builders are individuals who want to build a home without a licensed general contractor. As you can imagine, this specialty product sets you apart from the standard mortgage. Simply providing construction loans is a niche within the mortgage industry. But, owner builder construction loans are an even better niche. Eliminate 99.999% of your competition by working within a very specific niche.

Then, within that specific niche, set up your USP by offering services that none of your competitors will offer. Be unique in your overall industry. And, be unique even within your niche.

But, it doesn't matter if you are selling owner builder construction loans or if you are selling pizza. You need a strong USP to help you stand out.

Two years ago, we hosted a room full of loan officers at a mortgage marketing boot camp. During that weekend I got to talk to a lot of interesting people and hear a lot about their businesses.

Something I like to do when I'm at an event like this is conduct my own "undercover market research" - which means I ask a lot of people the same question to see what the most common answers are.

One question I asked often was, "What makes YOU different from your competition?"

Or, using proper marketing mumbo jumbo, "What's your Unique Selling Proposition?"

Here were the most common answers I got:

1. "I am new to the business so I haven't got one [a USP] yet."

How can you start in any business and not have a USP? Seriously, before you even start developing or selling a product line, or building your website, or writing a single advertisement, you must be able to clearly articulate what the heck makes you different from your competition!

Having the owner builder construction loan niche is essential to my office's long term success. Having a niche in your industry will be just as essential to you.

Look around at who is doing well out there. I am willing to bet you they all have some kind of niche they work in.

2. "I have the lowest prices!" - or - "I have the best service!"

Let me blunt: neither of those USPs work.

After a number of people at the boot camp told me their USP was about price or quality, those very same people told me they wouldn't believe other loan officers who claimed those USPs! Do you think your prospects believe you?

The fact is you don't have the lowest rates or the best service. The fact is that anyone can under price you in two seconds flat if they are willing to work for nothing.

The fact is that the "best service" is a very subjective thing, and anyone can claim to have the best.

Trying to compete on rates alone immediately establishes your product or service as a commodity - something that is meant to be shopped. You'll quote your rate and the customer will immediately hang up in order to call the next guy in the phone book to get his lowest price. Then, if you are lucky, he will call you back and get you to cut some more.

Lowest rates or best service is not a USP.

If you want to be really successful, you need to stand out from the crowd by offering a USP that's truly different... something your competition just can't claim. Become the expert at a niche for your market.

Then, price shoppers go away. Rate cutting goes away. And what you are left with is a line of people seeking you out.

So, step one: get a niche.

Step two: get a real USP!

There are plenty of niches to choose from. Then, you must let the world know what makes you different from your competitors -- in ten words or less. Being an expert in a niche and having a strong USP gives your customers a powerful, compelling reason to do business with you.

That is exactly why you should want to be different!
About the Author
Chris Esposito provides owner-builder construction financing nationwide through his Owner Builder 101 program. Visit www.OwnerBuilder101.com to get all the information you need to be a successful owner-builder, saving tens of thousands on your next home. Or call Owner Builder 101 at (877) 876-3688.
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