Being Different in a World of "Look a Likes"

Have you ever had someone say to you, “You are a lot like someone else I know”.  I don’t know about you but often when I hear this, I leave wondering if their statement was meant as a compliment or something not so good.

In business, if a client says, “you are a lot like the others”, I can assure you this is not a great thing and you are heading to rock bottom pricing as the primary differentiator since you are being seen as a commodity or a vendor with no differentiation.

So is possible to be different as a general or specialty contractor?  The answer is YES.  Highly profitable contractors have a true differentiation, one that sets them apart from their competitors, both in word and deed.  This is called a USP or Unique Selling Proposition.  An effective USP is a benefit statement or slogan that appeals to the buying needs and desires of the target market you serve.  It allows a firm to capture greater market share, build brand image, and most often secure a premium for its goods and services.

Let me give you a example.  Several years ago I needed a roof repair on an industrial building I owned.  I did some research and found a company that had good ratings and reviews.  I went to their website and their USP was “Repair Jobs Done Next Day”.  While catchy, I thought “yeah, right”.  Boy, was I surprised.  Within 30 minutes of my on-line request, a person called me back and said they would be there in the afternoon.  They showed the next day on time, repaired the leak and gave me an added bonus by securing a hole in the siding at the roof line to keep out the birds (something I wouldn’t have noticed on my own).

Now that is a USP that has teeth.  I have referred this company many times now and they remain my “go to” for roofing needs.   So if you say you are more customer focused, then building a culture and processes for handling communication, planning, scheduling, problem solving, billing, and regular follow up needs to be completed for your USP to be of value to the customer.

Designing and developing a USP for your company is not as hard as you might think but it will require you to do some research, writing, and commitment of time before the final statement(s) can be achieved.  

Here is a simple roadmap to developing a USP for your business:

  1. Identify your target segment including the demographics of the buyers.  
  2. Document the obvious voids in the market that no firm is either filling or doing poorly.  This is done through personal interviews and calls to the target market and focused probing questions.
  3. List the products/services to meet this market that you offer or need to offer.
  4. Develop benefit statements (USP’s) that clearly communicate a difference of doing business with your firm and the products and services you provide.
  5. Test your statements that you developed on your clients.  Get feedback on whether on how much they value your benefit.
  6. Create stories, case histories, etc. to back up your USP that you develop.
  7. Use your USP on everything including all forms of social media.   Brand it!!
  8. Integrate your USP into your culture.  Every employee needs to model your USP in his or her daily activities and interaction with customers.

Don’t forget.  Your different products and services will most likely have a different USP based on the target market.  If you are fortunate, you can find one USP that fits all target groups and provides a competitive advantage for you.  

Ready to stop being a look a like and take your marketing to the next level?  When you are ready to experience some real difference in profits, take the plunge, the USP plunge that is.  Develop a statement that truly sets you apart from the crowd and enables you to gain market share and new levels of growth and profit.  Go ahead.  “Be All That You Can Be”.  “Just Do It”.  Otherwise, you will be stuck with those “Everyday Low Prices”.

Need some help separating your business from the others?  Perhaps you've struggled with marketing in the past and want an aligned marketing strategy that helps generate leads.  Email us at  We love helping contractors be different so you experience new levels of growth and profits.

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