Over dinner, I was talking to a friend about the obsession with unique viewpoints and products. I made the same mistake when I was writing my last two books–terrified I’d “steal” someone’s idea by accident, then cranky when someone “stole” an idea of mine. Tonia set me straight with great visual: imagine you go into a library. Just one book on gardening. One in the mystery section. One on art journaling. Oh, right. Got it. Different viewpoint, projects, ideas are all important.
When I was building my website, I got hung up on “unique selling proposition.” USP is the characteristic that makes people chose your product, service, training, or writing over anyone other because it matches most closely to what a client needs.
I was scratching my head about how to make my technical writing course “unique” when I had an “Aha!” moment. Unique is not always great. Brussels Sprout Jell-O might be unique, and give kids needed vitamins, but which kid would want it? (And what adult would cook it?)
Unique can be difficult for people to understand. We make purchases based on experience, so having choices produces a better sales result than being the first or the unique choice.
Abrupt grammar interlude: “Unique” means one of a kind. So something can’t be “more unique” or “most unique.” Unique already means that. End of interlude.
So what is better than unique? Something that improves on what the client needs. Even better, knowing your client well enough to know what they want. Want is sometimes a better selling point than need.
And replacing “unique” with “original” is also a big step. For example, my technical writing class has a lot of writing exercises. Not true or false. Not multiple choice. Short exercises to practice what participants just learned.
I use PowerPoint very sparely in my business writing classes. No one learns how to write from looking at a slide with words. Writing is learned by practicing. With simple, direct exercises that allow practice in just one skill. It helps if there is fun involved, too. Fun is an example of “want” over “need.”
Originality is the point in every sale, from a book pitch to a writing class to artwork and music. Figure out, or ask a client what they want to have happen, what delights them, what kind of art they like. Talk about how your magic matches that. Much better than trying to explain something they have never experienced.
Yes, I know. Before you tell me that Apple puts out unique products almost every year, wait. They really don’t. They produce products that solve problems people hardly know they have. And they present them in ways that make you feel you are solving a problem, making your life easier, more elegant and cool. Apple is amazing when it comes to want over need.
Be original. You are the only one that can present yourself best. And that’s the best USP there is.
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