Here’s why it's critical you have a strong point of difference (+ 48 examples from New Zealand a


What makes you stand out from the crowd? What makes you stand out from your competition? Your Point of Difference, or Unique Selling Point, also known as USP, can give you the competitive advantage.

It’s what makes you unique, what you can hang your hat on, what you can claim your stake of the market with and what you use to earn your special place in the mind of your customers.

Many business owners struggle, even after investing in experienced staff or top-notch advertising, marketing and social media strategies. For many it’s a simple case of a) there’s not enough demand for your product or service and/or b) you’ve given your market very little reason to buy from you, over your competitors.

There are plenty of businesses that have tried to create a new Amazon, eBay or here in New Zealand; Trade Me (like Wheedle pictured above). And they have all failed. They have tried to create the same product only better. And yes some of them may have been better. Nicer design. More features. Better functionality. No fees even.

But unless you find a different way to serve, you are just a “me-too” product but without the things that people want; a trusted brand, a buzzing community and all the product listings.

Large successful businesses will not fall to a new competitor doing the same thing but “better”. They usually fall to competitors that approach the same problems from a different angle, a more relevant solution, that makes the existing solution obsolete.

Airbnb didn’t create an app where you could find hotels easily. That’s what Hotels.com, Bookings.com, Expedia, Trivago and Trip Advisor do. They reinvented the entire affordable accommodation industry by allowing everyone with a spare bed become ‘mini-hotels’ for additional income.

Uber didn’t create another taxi fleet. Like Airbnb, they took advantage of low marginal fixed costs and the rise of the sharing economy, and they reinvented the industry.

Bike sharing services around the world are doing the same.

Rent the Runway are disrupting the fashion industry in America by making otherwise unaffordable designer frocks available short term for a fraction of the price.

I am not saying that you need to be Uber or Airbnb.

Be you. But be unique.

If you are opening a cattery, what makes you different from the others? If you are a physiotherapist, what do you do differently? If you are building an online store, why should I shop from you when there are so many others available?

I have a choice, so why should I care about you?

The point is, it’s not a matter of being open for business; you must stand out from your competitors. And to do so, you must be unique.

A Unique Selling Proposition, (USP) is what makes your product or service so unique that it differentiates you from your competitors, in a way that compels your customers to buy off you over your competitors.

Here’s the key. Make sure your USP…

  1. Is actually unique and can’t be easily copied

  2. Appeals to your target market

If you don’t, you may struggle to survive at all and you’ll always be at risk of being knocked out by new competitors that enter the market, or existing competitors that strengthen their position in the market as unique, compelling, valuable and connect with their customers.

If you haven't already, start thinking about why you use the services or purchase the products you do; what makes them stand out for you? Why did you pick them over other options available?

Here are some local and global examples of businesses or brands with a clear point of difference...

  1. Book Depository – Cheaper books with free worldwide delivery

  2. Marine deals– Weekly deals specific to the marine industry

  3. Kagi Jewellery– Build your own beautify designer jewellery combinations by using clip clasps to switch combinations.

  4. Xero – Xero provides free reporting and practice management software that makes running their practice or business easy.

  5. Justines - providing healthy, baked products to consumers wanting a healthier lifestyle without losing the occasional sweet treat that makes life so much more enjoyable!

  6. BodyTech Gym- Fitness Integrity. Based on science + high intensity strength training that’s fully supervised by qualified trainers at no extra cost.

  7. Yellow Leaf Hammocks – 100% Handwoven hammocks with a positive impact

  8. Smartbox Storage- provides an easy storage solution where the storage unit is brought to you, you pack it then it gets picked up, taken back to the warehouse to be stored securely.

  9. Ezibuy – You can order as many items from the catalogue or online, try them on, if you don’t like them, send them back.

  10. Whittakers - creamier chocolate, better quality and heritage.

  11. Skellerup Red Band Gumboots - “Reliability and Quality is our Strength”

  12. Bridgestone - “Serving Society with Superior Quality”

  13. Dyson - “We’re all about invention and improvement.”

  14. Bose - “Bose maintains an exceptionally strong commitment to research”

  15. Lush – Fresh Handmade Cosmetics

  16. Event Impressions – Event company specialising in styling and design

  17. Symbio - “… powered by DR10™, a unique probiotic scientifically proven to aid digestive balance”

  18. Singapore Airlines Business Class – Unbeatable Service

  19. Mitre10 - “15% Price Guarantee”

  20. Bunnings - “We won't be beaten on price”

  21. Skinny Mobile – Stripped back mobile service so you only pay for stuff you actually want

  22. Nature Baby - Providing pure organic essentials that nurture you, your baby and nature.

  23. Pak n Save - NZ’s lowest food prices…

  24. The Warehouse - “Making The Desirable Affordable”

  25. Newmans Own – Donates all of their profits to charity

  26. Baxters Catering – Specialising in BBQ and Spit Roast catering

  27. Just Cuts - “We specialise in cutting — for men, women and children…”

  28. Flight Centre - “The airfare experts”

  29. Home Transfer Centre - “Legal specialists in house transfers and property transactions”

  30. Sistema Packaging –The first to ‘own’ the well made, well designed, stackable food-safe packaging (BPA and Phthalate free) market

  31. Car-fe - “Full service handwash carwash and onsite café”

  32. Pets in the City - “A hotel retreat for cats and dogs”

  33. Tupperware - Lifetime Guarantee on all their products

  34. Rod Milner Motors - ‘specialise in all types of disability vehicles’

  35. Financial Planner Expert – Specialising in self-managed super fund advice for retirees and pre-retirees

  36. Minus 5 Ice Bar – A unique atmosphere

  37. Notsocks.co.nz – Thoughtfully curated unique, fun and creative gifts

  38. Gentle Dentists – Catering to Dental Phobics

  39. Mocka - Well designed, super functional and stylish home and living products at exceptional prices

  40. Refresh Renovations – The worlds leading renovation builder (i.e. the safe choice)

  41. Mother-well Holistic Health - An integral health centre with a focus on fertility, women and children.

  42. Specsavers – Consistent and expected service, quality and value no matter which Specsavers you go to. (You know what to expect).

  43. Whole Foods – Wholesome, natural and organic foods in a large change, and with an overarching mission.

  44. The Sleep Store – One stop shop for tired parents

  45. Dollar Shave Club – Subscription based shaving supplies

  46. Domino’s Pizza – Delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free (1973 – 1993)

  47. Avis – We’re number two. We try harder. (1962 – 2012)

  48. Youi Insurance – Insurance uniquely tailored to you

Libby Evans is a Marketing Coach who teaches small business owners to create valuable and meaningful businesses and show how extraordinary they are in their marketing. Find out more about her affordable NZ based marketing strategy workshops here.

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