On Competitive Advantages and other Buzzwords…

Time for a mini-rant, against advice often promoted by those wanting to sell you something.

For years, it was very popular in marketing circles to identify your USP (Unique Sales Proposition.) Large management consulting firms and their MBAs loved the term.

Later, that morphed into the UBP (Unique Buying Proposition) as the marketers realized the focus should be on the customer, not the product or service. At least it was a start.

Today, I read yet another marketing blog post that emphasized more buzzwords. (Be Unique, be the Thought Leader, blah, blah, blah…) The post segued into Positioning, Differentiation, Branding, etc. It even offered a comprehensive course on the topics.

But does all this apply to the small consulting firm? Often not, in my opinion. In fact, I suspect the overemphasis on buzzwords may prevent some considering consulting from actually jumping in. Paralysis by analysis.

Consider a surgeon. Does he/she need to be unique — the only specialist in the field or the most highly renowned surgeon in the world? Of course not. The surgeon simply needs to be able to help the patient. Isn’t that what consulting is all about?

Like the overworked Thought Leadership term, these attributes are not be necessary to start a small consulting firm. All you really need is Visibility & Credibility. These can be easily achieved with a bit of effort and some simple lead generation techniques.

So don’t let the fear of not being Unique, Differentiated, or Positioned stop you. While the buzzwords may apply to large consulting firms, they may not apply to you.

Pick your niches, start your marketing, and jump in. Time better spent than mastering another buzzword.

<End of rant>

P.S. Still not sure? Jump in part-time as a side-hustle. I did that for almost ten years, which greatly facilitated my full-time JumpToConsulting thirty years ago.

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2 Responses to On Competitive Advantages and other Buzzwords…

  • I started editing part-time in late 1999. I went full-time in 2006. (I think it qualifies as a form of consulting.) About a year later, I got myself a bona fide USP.

    Since I was living in Asia but my customer base was in the US, there was a 12-hour time difference to work with. So my USP was that you could send me your writing at the end of the business day, and find the edited copy waiting in your email when you went to work the next morning.

    Nice, eh?

    I returned to North Carolina 6 years ago. Goodbye, USP. I still have every customer I had then. How? The same way Mom kept hers when she started cleaning houses in 1985. Reliability, quality service, prompt service, not gouging on price and not being a jerk. Not a USP, but not as easy to find as it oughta be.

    • Sounds like consulting to me, and it sounds like a success. Agree with your Mom too. The way many businesses are run today, those traits often seem like a USP.

      Best wishes with your consultancy, and thanks for sharing your story!

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