As a photographer, you need something that separates you from the pack of other similar photographers. Sure, you might produce photo’s of similar quality and style to 20 other photographers in your area, but if you’ve got a Unique selling point (USP), then you will become the clear favorite, and capture the majority of jobs… making your business much more successful, and yourself, much more wealthy!
What is a Unique Selling Point?
A unique selling point, also know as a unique selling position, or proposition…commonly called a USP for brevity’s sake in marketing, is creating something that makes your different to your competitors. If they’re all offering a portrait shoot for $1,000 and you come along and offer a portrait shoot for $1,000 plus guarantee they’ll have the photos within 3 days then that’s your USP. It’s a little something extra to make you stand out.
There’s a story that’s commonly told in the marketing community to display the power of a great USP that goes something like this…
There were two college friends, struggling to make enough money to pay for tuition, food, rent, and all the other bills that come with the college lifestyle, so they pooled all the money they had and bought a small pizza shop near their college campus. They thought they’d work there and use the profits to pay their way until graduation. One friend worked the day shift, and one worked at night… but the pizza shop wasn’t making enough money, they were working like crazy and barely breaking even…
So one day, one of the friends decided to call it quit’s and sold his half of the business to the other friend, and the payment was his beat up, old VW Beetle.
Pretty soon after this, the now sole owner of the pizza shop came up with a USP “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.” He realized that most of the people in that area were college students, who didn’t care about fancy toppings or traditional Italian style homemade tomato paste… they simply wanted it to be delivered quickly while it’s still hot.
The business immediately exploded with business and made ridiculous profits in it’s first year, and kept getting bigger and bigger, and was pretty soon all over the world because of this USP.
The name of the business is Domino’s Pizza, and they don’t even use the USP anymore because they’re so well known and successful, that they don’t need to worry about making promises.
I’m pretty sure the guy who sold it for a crappy VW Beetle would be kicking himself for bailing a little too early!
Quick Idea’s of a Few USP’s
You are the only one who can come up with a great USP because you know your business and your clients better than anyone. I recommend you spend quite a lot of time thinking about this before you settle on something. Brainstorm and write down a tonne of ideas over the period of a few weeks… then ask friends, family and most importantly CLIENTS which one they would prefer.
Here’s a few idea’s of mine to get your started…
- Guaranteed re-touching and editing times (there are lots of horror stories among clients about photographers taking over 6 months to deliver the final product)
- A free ‘pre-wedding’ or ‘pre-event’ photo shoot, including X number of edited photos
- An unheard of guarantee, like “Your friends jaws will drop when they see your photos, or your money back”
- A guarantee of the perfect photo “Using my unique methods, I’ll have you son or daughter looking like an angel in every photo, or you don’t pay a dime”
- Using ‘Social Proof’… “I’ve photographed 1,347 homes in the last 5 years, and real estate agents say my photo’s add an average of $5,000 to the sale price!”
- Personalized service… “I’m available from 8am til’ midnight, 7 days a week to answer all your questions!” (Only use if you work with high paying larger jobs)
These are just a few that I came up with quickly, and can be tailored to your businesses.
Wrapping It Up
Having a really great USP is supposed to make you so different from your competition that you prospects can’t even compare you with them. It’s a bit like comparing apples to oranges. For example, if there a prospect has called 10 different photographers and each has simply given an estimated price, while you’ve explained that your photos have been responsible for increasing house selling prices by over $5,000, it makes it impossible to compare doesn’t it? 9 of them say a quote between $1,000 and $2,000, while you explain that you boost prices by $5,000! Who would you choose if you were the prospect?
Create your USP in the coming weeks, but don’t rush it too much. Make sure it’s about 1 sentence long, and start using it in all your advertising materials!
BEWARE: If your USP works really well, others are going to copy it eventually. The whole idea of a USP is that it’s UNIQUE, so once it become common, it’s ruined. Move on to something new and different while everyone else is copying each other, and you’ll always have the lions share of business!
In the comments below, let me know if you’re already using a USP, and how well it’s worked out for you.