Marketing is chock full of acronyms. ROI. MVP. CMS. CRM. Another important one to add to your dictionary is USP — Unique Selling Proposition. Also known as a positioning statement, a USP is a factor that differentiates your product or service from competitors, and explains what your business stands for.

It’s not enough to sell insurance or provide financial planning. You also need a USP to set yourself apart from the crowd. For example, the founder of Revlon, Charles Revson, said he sold hope, not makeup. For Walmart, it’s all about the lowest prices. For FedEx, it’s reliability. For Starbucks, it’s premium coffee.

A successful USP clearly articulates how a customer or client benefits from the service or product. In the case of a financial advisor, what does a client get out of a financial plan? Is it simply financial organization? Or, is it also confidence to make big financial decisions? With a compelling USP, you can attract new clients and encourage referrals from satisfied current clients.

Defining Your USP

Take a look again at the above examples of other company’s USPs. They all have one thing in common: they focus on one key differentiator. Walmart isn’t trying to be known for luxury goods at low prices, and FedEx and Starbucks don’t claim to have the cheapest prices. Too many businesses try to stand for everything.

We often see financial advisors explain that they don’t want to turn anyone away, so they avoid taking a stand with their USP. They offer comprehensive financial planning for everyone. But how many other financial advisors are saying the same thing? If you try to be known for everything, you won’t be recognized for anything. You need one hook to hang your marketing hat on.

The first step in defining your USP is putting yourself in your clients’ shoes. Looking at your specific clientele, what is it they want and need? What concerns and roadblocks do they face? Yes, they want an insurance policy or help with their investing. But, why? What is it they hope to gain by taking out a life insurance policy or starting an investment portfolio? You need a reason for a client to choose you over another professional, work with you for the long-term, and recommend your services to friends and family.

Second, it’s important to understand what motivates your ideal client base’s decisions and behaviors. Beyond age, income, and location, dive into their motivations. What is it your ideal clients want to achieve in life? Is it leaving a legacy to their heirs? Successfully building and managing a business? Living comfortably without a fear of running out of money? Identifying your clients’ motives can help you define the benefits of your services.

Lastly, you need to know why your clients chose you over someone else. The easiest way to find this out is to ask. Many satisfied clients are happy to share what they like about you and your services. Sometimes it’s the little things — like traveling to a client’s home, or hosting an annual client appreciation brunch — that makes a big difference in a client’s life. You may discover something you hadn’t considered before.

Following these three discovery steps can help you identify your Unique Selling Proposition, market yourself as a unique business, and start attracting your ideal clients.