I had an article about USPs published recently, (on my birthday, as it happens), in the Summer Issue of Perception, the Cognitive Hypnotherapy E-zine. I thought you might like to see it.
The E-zine is published every quarter and is really easy to subscribe to. I’ve included a link at the bottom of this post. Best of all, it is free.
There’s a full copy of the Summer Issue at the bottom of this post. I suspect you’ll find it really interesting.
Anyway, appetite duly whetted; read on…
What makes you so Special, anyway?
Someone somewhere is always trying to convince you that what they’ve got is so good that you can’t live without it. Whether it’s home insulation, life assurance that comes with a pen, (thanks Michael, that’ll really sway my decision), or even claiming compensation for buying something that turned out not be quite as good as you were led to believe at the time. And we don’t just do this with the things we buy. We do it with people.
We live with a tacit pressure to identify what’s known as a USP, your Unique Selling Proposition. We’re driven to find what it is that’s going to make you, your product, your company or your service not just more appealing than the competition but entirely different from and better than the competition. Given that this concept originated back in the USA in the early 1940s, it’s probably a pressure that owes its roots to living in a capitalist economy where bigger, faster, higher, quicker was the order of the day. In a competitive environment, you need something that makes you stand out, something that makes you different.
A quick Google into USPs, (other good search engines are available), and you find that even the term USP isn’t unique. From the United Steel Products company in Minnesota to the United States Pharmacopeal Convention and even as far afield as the University of the South Pacific, all these claim the epithet USP. Obviously the University of the South Pacific holds most attraction, so I’m off to Tonga to study Geospatial Science at the USP at my earliest opportunity. Well, maybe later. In another life, perhaps.
Despite this minor sub-tropical digression, where does the acceptance of USP as a key idea really come from? The first thing to understand is that this is now quite an old concept invented, if that’s the right word, by good old Rosser Reeves during the 1940s. He analysed a variety of successful advertising campaigns looking for the common theme that made them so. According to Rosser, what made them successful, what convinced customers to switch brands, was that each campaign had been able to deliver what he termed a ‘Unique Selling Proposition’. His criteria were quite stringent. These are the three qualities a Rosser-style USP must have;
- The advertisement must make a specific proposition: ‘Buy this product and you will get this specific benefit’.
- The proposition must be unique: something that the competition cannot or does not offer.
- It must be strong enough to pull customers over to your product.
If you run a business, he demanded, what is your USP? Why on earth should a customer come to you when there are so many similar businesses out there each vying for the rapidly shrinking pound-in-your-pocket? It worked really well back then.
So here we are, some 50 years later still living with its influence. But there are so many businesses and so many people out there, that there is little specific uniqueness left.
Personally, I’m not really worried. Let me tell you why.
When I set up my business as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, I went through the process of trying to discover my Unique Selling Point because it seemed that everyone was doing it. It was one of the expected steps in what is known as creating your business proposition. What would differentiate my business from all those other Hypnotherapists around me? No matter how hard I looked at it, whatever I came up with, it looked very much like everyone else’s Hypnotherapy business. Uniqueness was proving extremely elusive.
I firmly believe that Cognitive Hypnotherapy is a much more profoundly useful tool than any other form of hypnotherapy, so in a way that could be my USP. But all those other Hypnotherapists believe that they’re good too, (well some of them do anyway), so even being a Cognitive Hypnotherapist isn’t enough to distinguish me uniquely from the competition. I’ve decided to focus on fertility and pain relief which helps but that’s not unique either. Others out there do the same.
So, after much thought and internal debate, I brought myself to this conclusion. My particular USP is me. There is no other Hypnotherapist out there, Cognitive or otherwise, who is or ever will be, me. That’s kind of reassuring.
And if I am me, then you are you. There is nobody like you. Anywhere. You are indeed one of a kind. Physically and mentally, (which is more of the same thing than you might imagine), no-one else will ever be you. So forget all the pressure of being the best you can be, striving for ultimate self-improvement, learning to be a winner.
Your biggest and most unique, (if you’ll pardon the unnecessary superlative), selling point is that nobody else in the entire world is you. This puts you in pole position and gives you an unfair advantage, (honestly, bear with me). Nobody else does what you do, thinks the way you do, behaves or feels or sees the world exactly as you do. Now this can seem a little overwhelming and scary at first because for most of us, we never really learn to appreciate just what these things are or how they really seem to those around us.
We are taught from a very early age how to think, how to behave, what we should or shouldn’t say, which rules we should follow, how we should dress, what food we should eat. The point is that we’re taught those things by people who aren’t us. The best they can do is to try to mold us into a better version of them, after all that’s what happened when they grew up. We learn to take on other people’s values and ideas. This can cause deeply embedded internal confusion as effectively we’ve learned to live our lives as if we were someone else. Who we really are, what we really believe gets buried and we forget how to value our individuality, our true identity. We end up not appreciating our own self for what it is. Special.
Fortunately, there are ways to get back to the centre of who you are. Cognitive Hypnotherapy really can separate out those aspects of you which are you and those which you’ve taken on and learnt from others as you grew up and life threw its various experiences at you. For many of us, we spend our lives trying not to be something, trying to keep away from ideas, values, identities that we unconsciously know are not us. But as these values are tucked away out of sight and out of mind, we rarely if ever become fully aware of them. It just feels, well, wrong.
Imagine how fantastic must it be to uncover the true you in a way that enables you to fully appreciate who you are. Once you become the centre of you, your life becomes congruent. You make decisions that are good for you, help you to grow. You learn how to feed the aspects of your personality that keep you healthy, strong, happy and content.
And there’s more. Once you’ve found what’s important, your underlying values, your true identity, you will find that you have uncovered your own Unique Selling Point and buffed it to such a glorious shine that it can’t help but be noticed. You have become you.
So now that you know who you are and what is fundamentally important to you, you’ll discover some strange things. There will be people, places, jobs, ideas, passions that absolutely fit like a glove. You may never even have noticed them before. Equally there will be people, places, jobs and ideas that you have put up with, simply because you couldn’t see any alternative or were too afraid to let go. Knowing who you are gives you the strength either to move on or to change these relationships into ones that are healthy for you. You become so centred that change is truly an opportunity and no longer a fear.
It isn’t the skills, qualifications or knowledge you hold which enable you to succeed; it is the passion that comes with being centred, being you, living without any inner conflict, confusion or deeply embedded self-doubt. In life and in business, knowing who you are is such a rare asset that the passion and self-belief it brings are a magnet to those with whom you’ll fit.
My advice is simply this. Do whatever you need to do to make sure that you live the life that you truly want, not the life that you find yourself putting up with.
So if something is holding you back or if you’re living a life that just doesn’t fit, why not get in touch with your nearest Cognitive Hypnotherapist? You’ll find one via the ‘find a Cognitive Hypnotherapist near you’ button on the Cognitive Hypnotherapy website.
It’s time to uncover that unique someone who is, quite simply, you.
Perception E-zine Free Subsription
The last part of your post resonates with me. I have never tried much to fit in but neither have I ever strived to find the life that is fit for me to be living until recently.
I think you’re right. Fitting in isn’t important really, it’s how you fit the life that fits you…
Wishing you all the best
Great article and really great advice Tony.
Glad you liked in, Ronn. It took a few drafts to get there.
All the best
Great words of advice. Thanks for this!
Indeed. At the end of the day, it’s you.
Wishing you all the best
I’m a big proponent of Cognitive Therapy, and recently returned to it after a particularly devastating bout of depression. I am not familiar with Cognitive Hypnotherapy. But this article is quite the sales pitch…and I am not susceptible to sales pitches telling me I will feel better, look better, be better if I buy such and such a product. Your angle is unique and a great selling point. Sort of like the US Marine Corp slogan: Be all you can be. Well done. I’ll be looking deeper into this.
I love the idea of people working out what is their USP. We should all do this. It is wasted on products! Congrats on being published (and thanks for the like). Cheers Pip
Isn’t great to know that what’s so special about you is the very fact that you are you!
Wishing you all the best