Unique Selling Propositions and Distinctive Products

Ideally every business should have a Unique Selling Proposition, which is something where it has an absolute advantage over competitors which they are unable to copy. Owning a valuable patent is one good way of establishing a USP, although a patent will expire at some point, and the patent holder may be required to license it out to competitors. In general, possession of know-how and secret processes are good ways to have a USP.

For many businesses, this is just a counsel of perfection which is pointless. What every business might try to do is to have a distinctive product. This is something which stands out from the crowd, and something which competitors may not be inclined to copy. The DP might just be a distinctive colour or other distinctive branding protected by trade marks and design registrations. The DP could be just a commitment to good customer service.

Better still would be to have a mix of USPs and DPs. Our USP might be weak or trivial, but if we combine it with a DP then our competitors can get confused and will struggle to emulate us. It’s one to think about.

In the case of David Porthouse & Co, our USP is simply all the technology we use. The DP can be found in the accounts and VAT reports which we prepare, which are customised for the client. We also e-mail colour-coded notices when a tax is due. These are prepared on a spreadsheet and use a bit of Visual Basic programming. This puts them slightly beyond the capability of most of our competitors, but only slightly. If we do this and have other irons in the fire as well, then we get synergy.