Free Purple Hippos to all new Customers

Now that would be very unique, different and would make a company stand out from its competitors!

If you review the definition of unique, you will find explanations such as:

  • Being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else
  • Unequalled
  • Unparalleled
  • Unmatched
  • Incomparable

Based on these definitions, where companies find themselves with high competition, similar solutions, similar pricing policies targeting similar customers and clients, is there really such thing as a Unique Selling Point (USP)?

Recently, during a prospective client meeting I was asked the question “What are your unique selling points”? To which I answered, “we don’t have any”.  The prospect looked taken aback and baffled for a few seconds and so did my brain to be honest as the words poured out before I had really thought the answer through.

When the prospect client (let’s call him Bob) was explaining his business I was collating a mental checklist of the key points:

  1. He is targeted to grow his business.
  2. His customers have a choice of suppliers.
  3. His competitors can offer similar if not the same service.
  4. For new customers, 9 times out of 10 it comes down to price.
  5. His customers are looking for more added value offerings for their money.

Bob went on to tell me how unique his company is and shared his USP’s.  My brain exploded into action thinking “these are not unique to him as his competitors also do the same thing”. 

The brain cells then also realised that we (Fifth Element Solutions) are in the same position.  We have competitors, who also Management Strategy and Learning and Development Solutions, therefore we don’t offer a unique service, but we do have points of difference on how we operate.

The true question is – when an industry is in a mature market with a large volume of competitors is there really such a thing as a USP or are they points of difference?  If I decided to give away a free purple hippo to every customer, apart from some potential legal issues I would be totally unique.  No other Business Consultancy in the UK would be doing this.  However, when other companies catch on and start to offer red, pink, blue or orange hippos, I am no longer unique but as mine is purple, but I have a point of difference.

Other definitions for the term unique are:

  • Special
  • Noteworthy
  • Superior
  • Outstanding

One of our goals is to strive to deliver a superior and outstanding service. This goal shapes our decision making and thinking, but does it make us truly unique, or is that purely our work ethic?  A client or customer can still buy the same solution elsewhere for a similar price, but they will get a different experience. 

This revelation has created some lengthy and exhausting conversations internally as we seek our points of difference that customers will want to hear about and will help solve their issues and add value to their business.  

The world has changed and moved on since ‘USP’ became a popular buzz word.  There have been many influences such as technological advancements, social trends, legal issues that have changed the how, why and where people buy, more choice, and the high levels of service people expect.  What do your clients/ customers think is unique about you?

Apart from smuggling large endangered species into your workplace are you clear on:

  • Your points of difference?
  • How to explain these differences clearly to your customers/clients that add value to their problems?
  • A day in the life of your customer/client – what are their issues, where their pressures come from, what internal and external demands they have?
  • Taking the time to forecast to explore future industry changes and the impact to the customer/client’s world and how will this impact you?
  • What the potential trends and changes will mean for your internal operational processes and thinking? 

I don’t seek to challenge your organisations DNA but to simply place a question mark in your head that you are clear on how to demonstrate your differences from your competitors that encourage customers/clients to buy from you. Every person that works in the organisation should be able to clearly verbalise these differences to make decisions and choices that support their delivery.

No hippos were harmed during the creation of this blog.  Other animals are also available. Please seek the legal implications of smuggling endangered species and the prison term it carries.

To talk more about your proposition and find out how we can help you with your strategy, contact us on


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