Beyond buzzwords and hype: Discovering what truly differentiates you from your competitors

Aug 8, 2023 | Marketing and promotion, Networking, Referrals

It’s another day, and I’ve seen another poorly thought through piece of advice for accountants to identify their USP. I have long disagreed with this generic idea of trying to identify your Unique Selling Point (USP) or your Unique Sales Proposition (USP).

Instead I recommend a much more practical and realistic way for accountants to address the issue of needing to stand out from the competition. This makes it much easier for you to be better remembered, referred and recommended to the type of clients you want, to do the work you enjoy and for which you get paid the fees you deserve.

I have almost NEVER encountered an accountant with a truly UNIQUE selling point or sales proposition.  They are almost always variations on a theme and are all but interchangeable – which kind of defeats the idea of claiming to be ‘unique’ (as this means ‘like no other’).

I believe that most prospective clients ignore references to an accountant’s USP as simple marketing puff – especially when it becomes apparent how similar they are to each other. This may also mean that such claims have a negative impact.

My solution to this challenge is not perfect as it still includes the word ‘Unique’ but it does better focus attention on what it is that truly makes you different to other accountants and how your clients benefit from this.

Rather than trying to identify a USP, I suggest that, instead, you look to highlight your UPB. That is, the Unique Perceived Benefits that explain why your (ideal) clients choose you and stay with you.  The word ‘unique’ here being a reminder of one of the key reasons/benefits inmost cases. YOU.

YOU are unique. The combination of YOUR background, experiences, style, approach, preferences and so on are unique to you. Forget the nonsense idea that all accountants are the same. It’s just not true. You are all different. The output you produce (in terms of accounts and tax returns) may be very similar but HOW you deliver your service is unique to you.

Beyond this we can consider why clients choose you and choose to stay with you. Perhaps you have made an effort to STAND OUT in a positive way – that helps you to be better remembered, referred and recommended to the type of clients you want, to do the work you enjoy and for which you get paid the fees you deserve. I have touched on such ideas in other blog posts here.

If you are inclined to use social media or Linkedin to assist your marketing efforts, keep this mind. Don’t bother copying other people’s posts. Don’t bother just repeating and reporting on accounting, tax or even business news.

Instead, ensure that you are sharing YOUR views, even if they are out of line with the mainstream (especially if they are out of line). Try to back up your views with evidence, otherwise they can just become a rant (a statement for which you have no evidence at all). Don’t be afraid to be controversial. Be yourself. Be unique.

In a world where AI can draft generic posts it has become even more important to include your personal views and advice. To make clear that YOU wrote (or at least edited and tailored) the post. That it reflects YOUR take and is not something that anyone else could have shared or posted.

And keep in mind, in all your marketing messages, on your website and when networking, that it’s better to focus on your UPBs rather than on your (unconvincing) USPs.

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