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Freelancing and consulting: YOU are your USP

Have you ever spoken with a prospect for your services who asks, “Why should I choose you?”

If so, perhaps a certain reason came to mind even if you hesitated to say it directly. “You should choose me because you get me.

Why it’s so hard to identify your USP

Your USP, or Unique Selling Proposition, is your planned answer to the question. It’s the response that you have conceived of, tailored and rehearsed, haven’t you?

The problem with selecting a USP is that according to the experts, you should claim a qualification or characteristic that is unique to you, that no one else possesses.

That is easier said than done. For most of us, our competitors in freelancing and consulting are around the globe. They may number in the hundreds, thousands or even more. We don’t know most of them. And we certainly don’t know of a meaningful distinction that sets us apart from everyone else.

We may be (or we may think we are) the only specialist of our type in our neighborhood. However, since much work is conducted from a distance, that may be of no importance.

We may have what we think is a unique specialty, but probably it’s not truly unique. (“Unique” literally means “one of a kind,” just as “unicycle” means “having only one wheel.”)

Actually, we are “unique.” There’s only one of us. No one else in the world is quite like us. If we offer a creative service, no one else will create quite the same results as us.

When studying marketing literature on how to create our USP, advice usually centers on only one trait that sets us apart. However, in practice, it’s a combination that makes us special and that makes us worthy of the assignment in question. Many of the so-called “unique” qualities or missions that freelancers and consultants cite really are not unique.

Your unique combo of traits

We may have credentials, experience, enthusiasm, knowledge. We probably have other traits that aren’t so unique but that make all the difference when added to the mix: caring attitude, conscientiousness, deadline orientation, ability to partner with our clients, personality, problem-solving orientation, etc.

This doesn’t mean that the homepage of your website should say, “Hire me because I am a unique individual.” At least, to me it sounds a little unusual at best, not to mention vague and even egotistical.

Still, in answering the initial question when asked, it’s perfectly fine to list off several relevant reasons instead of isolating one biggie as your sole USP.

Many characteristics enable us to freelance and consult effectively. It’s their combination that makes us “unique” in our service to clients.


Originally posted 2-3-14

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