I remember when we were looking for funding to expand Conchango, we talked to a private equity firm (who are, after all, also in professional services). The terms they offered us were worse than if we'd gone to the bank for a loan. So in their pitch meeting to us, I asked what was special about working with them, why we'd want to take those terms when we were actually already in a financially stable and strong position.
After looking at his colleagues for inspiration, The managing partner earnestly leaned over the table and said "I think you'll find when you work with us that we're a really passionate company!".
Now there's a USP straight out of an episode of The Office.
Don't be that managing partner.
If you've ever been involved in product selection, you'll have witnessed a 23 year-old pre-sales guy genuinely believing that the latest feature he's showing you in their software is something that no other product has. And you'll have seen the feature, often done better, elsewhere.
Don't be that spotty 23 year-old.
Your clients can, and will, call BS if you claim uniqueness when really, it's not that unique. They will usually know your competition's claims better than you, as they'll have been at the receiving end of them.
Don't try to shoehorn uniqueness into your consultancy. Spend all that time and energy instead on building relationships and being really, really bloody good!
And make your quest for uniqueness be about how you can deliver something unique for your client and how you can build a unique relationship with them.
It's not about you. It's about them.
This article was written as a direct response to a question from a reader of this blog. I went to look at his website. Although it didn't explicitly articulate it, looking at their offerings, language and case studies I saw something that in my mind did make for a strong USP. Or at least a near USP that looked strong enough to lead with.
If I was right, (which I probably wasn't, as I wrote to him and haven't heard back) and if that was a true reflection of his consultancy, then I'd absolutely use it in his case. It would not only articulate something strong, but would probably also help attract clients who are aligned with their way of thinking, and create a strong niche.