“Say cheese,” says the person behind the camera.

And you say cheese. Your facial muscles are frozen. You have a dumb, goofy look. And under your breath you're muttering, “C'mon, take the picture, take the picture, c'monnnn!”

Click! You blink. The picture's been taken.

And then the photographer runs across to you, all excited to show the nice digital photo. You take a look, you roll your eyes. You cringe. Because you just detest the photo. It looks artificial. It looks posed. It's not you. It looks like all those cheesy pictures you've seen before.

It's not unique.

How can it be unique? You weren't yourself!

And that's the whole problem with uniqueness. You've tried too hard. In your business, you've tried to your darndest to get your own uniqueness. And you've failed miserably. Because you froze.

And the uniqueness you sought to find looked like that cheesy picture. When asked about your uniqueness, you mumble something like “service or quality,” which means nothing to most people.

The funny thing is that Sarah had the same problem

You see, Sarah has a yoga class. And a yoga class is a yoga class, right? Sarah twisted her brain like a pretzel, but she just couldn't come up with a form of uniqueness.

So she did what all the experts recommended.

She asked her clients. And some of them shrugged. Some of them gave her mixed answers. And that left Sarah more confused than ever before.

Then she did what most businesses do. She gave up. She figured her business would just remain a commodity. To hell with uniqueness. Trying to find what was unique was too hard.

You see, Sarah was asking the wrong question

She was trying to look inward. Because the question isn't “What's unique about my business?” but, rather, “What do I want to do in my business that's different from everyone else?”

Let me explain.

I asked Sarah what she'd want to achieve for her students most of all? Her response was lightning quick, and I backed up two steps at the speed and ferocity of the answer.

“Injury,” she said. “You can really hurt yourself in a yoga class if you're doing the wrong thing. I want every student to have Injury-Free Yoga.”

Tada! Can you see it? Sarah couldn't see it. Her uniqueness was Injury-Free Yoga. Plain and simple.

What do I want to do in my business that's different from every one else? What do you want to do that's different in your business? What's your dream for your customer?

Ask Tom Monaghan, founder of Dominos Pizza

Today you take quick pizza delivery for granted. But if you zapped your way back to the swinging, hey-groovy seventies, you'd grow old just waiting for a pizza.

You'd call a pizza place. You'd ask, “Can you deliver?” And about seventy-nine hours later, you'd be still tapping your fingers waiting for the pizza guy to arrive.

Tom Monaghan did what Sarah did. He couldn't find anything unique about his business, so he invented his uniqueness.

He worked out how to get a pizza to his customer in 30 minutes or less. And then he came up with Dominos now historic slogan. Dominos Pizza. In 30 Minutes or It's Free!

Yup, the pizza man invented his uniqueness.

Are you getting the point?

You can't find uniqueness. It's easier trying to touch your tongue to your nose. Don't try that! I know you will…. :)

The uniqueness has to be invented. Here's how you do it. You look at your business like you were a monarch surveying his kingdom.

And then make this big, warm wish for your royal subjects. If you could, what would you do differently?

Then do it. And once you've got the swing of things, announce your uniqueness to the world.

Ah, but hang in there a second...

Once you've decided what you want to do better than anyone else, survey the neighbourhood. Does any other competitor do the same? And does your competition stress their uniqueness?

If the answer to both those questions is No, then go right ahead and proclaim the uniqueness to your customers. It doesn't matter if your competitor does the same thing. If you're the first one to announce it, you own it.

If you don't believe me, ask Cindy Russell

Cindy Russell runs 9seconds Technologies, a search engine optimization firm in Tampa, Florida. So what's sooooo different about a search engine optimization company?

Simple. Cindy invented her uniqueness.

Her proposition is simple. If you're a real estate agent in Milwaukee, she won't work with another real estate agent in Milwaukee. She'll work with a real estate agent in New York—that's OK. But she won't have two real estate agents scrapping it out for top search engine rankings in one geographical area.

Now that makes Cindy different. Her customers know their privileged information stays privileged with Cindy. They realize the advantage of working with someone who has the integrity to pass up instant income for client secrecy. And they're willing to pay more to get Cindy's enhanced service.

Cindy's onto a good thing with her self-created uniqueness.

Oh, oh, hang on... having uniqueness isn't enough

Once you do get your uniqueness going, you've gotta blah, blah, blah it to the rest of the world. Keeping it hidden on page six, paragraph seventy-three, isn't going to help you one little bit.

Most businesses know their uniqueness. They'll even tell you their point of difference in a conversation. Yet, you won't find on the front page of their Web site. It's swept under the carpet in their brochures and newsletters. When they stand up to speak, they forget to make it an important part of the spiel.

Get your uniqueness where it can be seen on a consistent basis. Not hidden under a bushel.

In conclusion: you too can create your own uniqueness

If you've been frozen so far, un-freeze that cheesy slogan. Be who you want to be. You're different. You know it. Now let the world know about your point of difference too.

Invent it!

Examples of Unique Selling Propositions (All Invented, By the Way) :

  1. Subway—7 subs with under 6 grams of fat.

  2. Federal Express—When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight

  3. Dominos Pizza—30 minutes, or it's free!

  4. Real Estate Agent—Specializes in just 250 homes in the Milford area.

  5. 9Second.com—Search Engine Positioning without geographical conflict of interest.

  6. Video Easy—Get it first, or get it free. (Note: They're talking about getting videos when you walk into the store.)

  7. Biz Tactics.com—Marketing books you can read in 30 minutes or less.

  8. Hardware Store—Only 3% mark up on wholesale prices.

  9. Law Firm—House conveyancing for a flat fee of $1,000. No hidden costs.

  10. Indian Restaurant—100 Dishes to choose from if you don't fancy butter chicken.

  11. Herbal Smoke Away—Money back if you don't give up smoking in just 7 days.

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Sean D'Souza uses age-old psychology, marrying it to modern technology, on his Web site, psychotactics.com. Can "psychological tactics" make a difference? Go there and find out.

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