The major element in building your personal brand and setting yourself apart, so that you attract prospects, new and old, is in establishing a Unique Selling Point (USP).
This is not something that just applies to physical products, but is essential in its application to your own business as a creative professional.
In marketing jargon, a unique selling point/proposition is what a product or service possesses that states clearly that it will provide a certain specific and unique benefit to the customer.
It is a very good idea to know what makes you unique and what people will remember you for, before going about promoting yourself.
As creatives, one of the biggest challenges we face is in standing out from the crowd of others all trying to make a name for themselves. Many will be using the same tools as you do, and this increases the potential for you to miss out on your ideal projects.
What is it about your work that will turn the heads of potential clients or head-hunters?
It’s not enough to simply state that you provide a great service and that you are highly skilled. People need to see what you do and they need to be sold on your work.
This means having work that stands out in such a way that your prospect would not consider looking anywhere else for other talent and professionalism.
The way to hook prospects in this way (not to mention fans, friends and people who will talk about you and promote you) is to create work that people won’t find elsewhere.
For repeat clients, they will be able to recognize what is yours straight away. This doesn’t mean that you are stuck with the same materials or tools forever. You should exhibit your own style in all that you do. This will apply more to certain professions than others, but the principle still stands.
To go a step further, you not only need to be expressive in the work you create, but you need to express yourself and the way you are through your work.
Steps to Developing a USP
1. Identify your main strength and milk it.
Coupled with active self promotion, success in the creative world comes with communicating your strengths effectively. Making others aware of what you are good at should be at the forefront of how you showcase your work as well as your engagement with prospects and others, but in crafting a unique selling point, you need to go a step further.
Focus on one single element that you know you are good or skilled at, or what can be honed to make you stand out more, whether this be in your ability to create beautiful minimal design, drawing people as an artist, writing descriptive fiction, or producing black and white photography. Work on it and get even better at it.
2. Improve your skills in one or two areas.
Identify the skills you need to support your main strength.
This could be in improving your vector illustration skills with Adobe Illustrator, improving your vocal or copywriting skills or learning more about using automation within Logic for music production, for example.
3. Find what makes you truly unique as a person.
This might sound cheesy, but it is an awareness of your quirks that will add depth and personality to your work and the way you go about doing business with people, including promoting it.
Ask yourself these questions to get you going:
1. What are the three things that make you memorable?
2. What do people always compliment you on?
3. What are you passionate about that you never get tired talking about?
4. What unique experiences have you had?
Once you have found what makes you unique, work on incorporating it into your work, and ultimately your brand.
This includes through the writing you do, in the way you describe yourself, in the way you communicate with others, and, ultimately through your own work.
It is this expression of character in all that you do that will set you apart from the rest and cement your success.
4. Hone your style.
This is where a bit of hard work and practice comes in. Once you have achieved a style that people can associate as yours, your promotional efforts will be made much easier.
5. Make your speciality obvious.
Through the work you produce, and when you display your work on a website or elsewhere, make sure that your skills and specialties, as well as the main things that make you unique, are made clear to those looking at it.
Most of what makes you unique will speak for itself through the work you do, but you can emphasise your strengths and unique selling point in your bio, ‘about me’ section, or site tagline as well.
Make sure you share past projects that you felt demonstrated your strengths and showcase and search for testimonials from clients that highlight your skills.
If you’re on a team, make sure you volunteer for work that allows you to utilize your strengths too, so they don’t go unnoticed and unused.
A USP is an important element of your own brand. Once you have this set, you need to go about living up to your personal brand, adding strength to it and transmitting its message in everything you do.
This is achieved through the design of your personal site, the way you communicate with people, the content you share with your network, the enthusiasm you put into your work, the professionalism you display, and the originality you bring to new projects.
The importance of your recognisable personal brand can’t be overlooked.
As Tom Peters puts it:
“In today’s wild wired world, you’re distinct…or extinct. Survive, thrive, triumph, by becoming Brand You!”
I would recommend reading his book: ‘Re-inventing work. The Brand You 50’ for more information on transforming yourself into your own brand.
Demonstrating the right attitude and acknowledging internet etiquette is a key part of your personal brand, and is something that will benefit your online self promotional effort as a whole.
Your thoughts below would be really interesting!