What’s Your USP?

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These days it seems that branding is the hot topic within the wedding industry, especially for photographers. We certainly discuss it quite a lot at Photography Farm and we are very lucky to have photographer’s brand expert Melissa Love join us to share her expertise. When I first started shooting weddings, brand simply wasn’t an issue. It was enough to take good photographs and make sure that you were found in the right places. However there has never been more wedding photographers competing against each other for potential business, so of course branding can be one of the elements that can help us to stand out.

But what about a USP? Before working on your brand, have you given any thought to it? I don’t hear people using this term any more, it’s kind of fallen out of fashion along with shoulder pads and pagers. Yet if we all defined our USPs before looking at branding, it would be much more likely that we’d each end up with much more unique brands and websites. These days it seems like there are way to many companies with very similar website designs.

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USP means Unique Selling Proposition. Companies that have really applied themselves to coming up with a strong USP are often some of the most successful. In a world of dull grey and black computers, Apple played with colour hardware and then white. Virgin Atlantic set out to be true to it’s entertainment roots and offered a high level of in-flight entertainment alongside a friendly service on board their flights. The same principle can work for small businesses in any busy market.

I was thinking about this recently when looking for a window cleaner (bear with me) …. Devlin Towers is on four levels and there is no way a man with a bucket can cope. We used to have a company that cleaned the windows with the Long Reach System and they did a great job but simply disappeared. A few months later our windows were looking pretty grimy and Brighton’s seagulls had been using them for target practice. So we decided to look for another company to do our windows.

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At a quick glance on Google, it turned out that a lot of local companies were available but I really couldn’t be bothered to trawl through a load of websites. Then I saw a name I recognised and remembered seeing their van in our area with cool graffiti on the side. The price was the same as we used to pay and they were friendly and efficient, however it was their graffiti van that made them memorable to me, and ultimately made me book them. The simplest idea can be your USP and the thing to catch a potential client’s eye.

There are several photographers out there right now with very similar brands. If you look at all their websites together it can be very hard to remember which one belongs to which photographer. I can’t help thinking this is because they are concentrating too much on current trends and forgetting what is truly unique about their selling proposition. Defining your USP will give you a stronger starting point and an advantage when it comes to standing out from your competitors.

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This really helped me when I started out. My biggest USP then was that I had come from a music industry background and this helped to attract the kind of creative clients that I like working with. Again, when I started Photography Farm, I presented it’s USP as the only residential wedding photography workshop held on a farm set up for rock stars. The Barn’s USP is that it is the first comprehensive online resource for photographers in the UK.

You might be the only person in your area who offers a certain album or has won a particular award. Maybe you are the only one in the whole country that offers a different themed photo booth at each wedding or it can be more personal. Maybe you are unique because of your background, your interests or your obsession with Olly Murs.

Give some thought to what is unique about you or the service you are offering and use this as a starting point to how you present your business.

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15 comments

  1. This made my night definitely. I was sound asleep when I woke up, picked up my ipad and stumbled across this. Lovely article. Thanks so much!!! I also just recently discovered about this. Brilliant!

  2. @Lisa Devlin That is so cool! Quite remarkably Neil and I have the same website template so I better not go down the beard route too… unless I grow mine much, much longer 🙂 Maybe we could start club

  3. I think the thing I’ve began to notice the most is that a high percentage are buying in to the same web designs. They all look amazing but I lose track of who is who. Still on the search for my USP. Maybe that’s my USP? No, I’ll keep looking.

  4. Emma

    So many bloggers & creatives confuse identity with branding. Having a consistent colour scheme isn’t branding, it’s a visual identity. Branding involves strategy, psychology, marketing, research, and real-world processes, not web banners, blogs and cupcakes. The best way to remember the difference is: identity is how you look, brand is who you are.

  5. Excellent post Lisa! I’m in the process of rebranding my little business right now and, while I’ve heard of USP before, I didn’t really know how to go about working out what mine is. Time to get my thinking cap on!

  6. Great post, Lisa! We’ve spent the last 6 months working on figuring out our identity and our branding, and it was hard at first to figure out how we were any different than the many, many wedding photographers and videographers in NYC. I’ve never heard of USP before, so that’s an excellent point to figure out! So far, we’ve determined we want our brand to say “quirky, classic, and accepting,” and one of the most unique aspects we have to offer is our alternative interests (we own an indie comic book company, love sci-fi, fantasy, and heavy metal) combined with our background in advertising.

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