This blog is inspired by a post in Nic Redman’s Voice & Accent Hub Facebook group. Nic wrote a post that got me – and lots of other people – thinking and chatting… “What makes you stand out?”.
She talked about the things that make her unique and this sparked a great conversation. So I thought I’d write about my thoughts in more detail.
But first things first…
What is a USP?
USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition. Sometimes referred to as a unique selling point. But I think the term ‘Unique Selling Package’ works best (thank you Nic Redman for that phrase!) and I’ll explain why soon.
The Oxford Languages definition of a USP is:
“a feature or characteristic of a product, service, etc. that distinguishes it from others of a similar nature and makes it more appealing.”
Or – what you have or offer that your competitors don’t.
It’s about your uniqueness. Finding those special things that make you stand out from the crowd. Your distinguishing features, unique offers and point of difference. Secret Sauce is another term I much prefer to UPS. It’s all about discovering what makes you fabulous.
Finding your fabulous
It can be surprisingly tricky to find your fabulous so DO NOT think that just because you struggle with this you’re alone. You are not. It’s also a lot easier to see what makes someone else fabulous. Our brains are tricksy things – they play games with us – especially when it comes to imposter syndrome (something creatives know well).
I’ve written about finding your brand personality and this is very much part of that process.
Where to begin?
A common presumption is that a business USP should only be about our business. But I disagree. Especially if that business is solo-owned or small. We – the people who run our businesses – are such an important and integral part of what our businesses do, that its next to impossible to separate one from the other. What we do need to do is choose which bits to focus on sharing.
Everyone who works with me 1-2-1 on their branding will have dug deep into this.
I start the process by asking a lot of questions. And I do mean a lot. I’ll ask people to pick words that represent their business from a long list of words. I ask which things make them jump for joy and what makes them shudder in disgust. And these are not just about work. Our experiences throughout our lives shape the people we are today and that can be hugely influential in how we choose to run our businesses.
My own fabulous story
Here are some of the things that have helped shape my own USP. I hope that by sharing some of them it will spark ideas so that you can uncover and find your own fabulousness. Spoiler alert – not everything starts with a positive experience.
I’m a musician
At the tender age of 10 I started to learn the piano. I hated it initially (urgh scales!) but a few years later it became my sanctuary. At 13 our family moved from the North East to North Yorkshire. I didn’t know anyone so hanging out in the music block at school gave me a place to hide and get to know people. I started playing all sorts – saxophone, orchestral percussion, handbells and kept on with the piano. I joined bands, orchestras and choirs. Music became my passion. I studied A-level music and even got on TV – appearing in Emmerdale in the early 90s thanks to the jazz band I was in (cue some mildly embarrassing photos…). For many years I was a singer in a band with Rob and our pal Dave too.
What the hell has any of that got to do with me offering branding and website services to voiceovers? It gave me the experience of what it is like to perform. I’ve felt those gut-wrenching nerves before heading on stage. I know what it feels like for all your carefully learnt lyrics to vanish mid-song from your head (I once sang 2 verses with made-up-on-the-spot phonetics because I forgot all the words). And I also know the rush and buzz you get during and after a great performance. The joy it can bring to you and others. There is no other feeling like it. So I better understand my clients’ need to create and perform and all the (good and bad) emotions that come with that desire. Performing on stage also got me used to being in front of a crowd, so now, talking at events and conferences is less nerve-wracking.
I’ve had a lot of jobs
Before I started uni (somewhere I was told I’d never be able to go to) I worked behind a bar, in restaurants, in kitchens, did silver service hotel banquets, on reception desks, call centres, supermarket checkout, a sweet factory and spent nearly a year working as a youth worker. After graduating I worked as a graphic designer for an E-learning company (one of the 1st in 2000), advertising agencies, marketing agencies, a burglar alarm company, a national charity and a very big pet company. When I went freelance, I worked for an even bigger range of businesses – from global banks and retailers to hotels, holiday parks, recruitment agencies, nail bars and more.
I was also made redundant quite a bit (thank you advertising world). In fact, losing my job at the pet company was the reason I started freelancing.
Why does any of that matter? Sometimes it was very difficult. I experienced a lot of discrimination being a young female working as a digital designer in the 2000s. Advertising and marketing were full of power-suit-wearing, brash and loud white males selling things that didn’t work and no one cared about. I’ve had a few truly awful managers that have left me dealing with a whole host of mental health issues.
But what it has given me is resilience. I don’t give up easily. I know I NEED to be creative in some way – I tried not to be, but it didn’t work. It gave me experience working with a huge variety of industries. It showed me how NOT to treat my clients or people I work with. I want to show respect and never bully, bend the truth or coerce people to get a sale. It showed me I only want to brand and design things for clients I truly believe in. It showed me to ignore people who say you can’t or shouldn’t do something you want to. I want to help give my clients the confidence to pursue a career they love. I want to enjoy working!
B Double E’s fabulous
We recently announced that we are supporting the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and we have also taken the Ethical Move pledge. The decision to do BOTH of these things are a result of our collective negative experiences and our desire to do some good. And they are 2 of our USPs. And (I think) help make us a little bit fabulous.
I hope you agree with me when I say we genuinely care about our clients. We won’t sell or recommend things we don’t honestly believe are good.
But probably our biggest USP – our most fabulous fabulous – is the combination of me and Rob together. That is what makes us truly unique. Our combined skills set us apart from our competitors.
How to find your own fabulous
I’m going to write about this in more detail another time. It’s a big topic and can be a tough one to do by ourselves, but here are some things to get you started:
1. Start with some words
Take 15 minutes to write down as many words as you can that describe you – not just your voice – but you as a person. When you have that list, are there any that are similar – like friendly, approachable and easy to work with? These can start to form your keyword and they will start to form your brand personality and vibe.
2. Your voice profile
Write a list of words, but this time it’s all about the words that describe your voice. Native accent, tone, pitch, age, gender. Ask other people what they think too. These can form your voice profile – a very useful thing to have on your website near your demo reels because;
- They give a description of your voice to clients before they listen to demos
- They are extremely important for SEO – these are likely the words people will pop into search engines when they’re looking to hire.
3. Your history
Think about all your experiences (past jobs, hobbies, loves, lessons learnt – everything) and how they made you feel. Then think about:
- What brings you joy?
- What makes you squirm?
These will form your values and ethics – how you want to behave as a business and how you want clients to see you.
- Your perfect clients
Write a list of all your dream clients. What areas of work do you really want to do? Then make sure your marketing and website are talking to those dream clients.
Shout about how fabulous you are
Now it’s time to start telling other people about your beautiful and unique fabulous-ness-eeses.
Now I understand this part can be tricky – especially if that old imposter syndrome strikes. But I promise you – the more you talk and mention those things that make you great, the easier it will become to talk about them. And yes, it might feel a little bleugh at first. But it needs to be done and practice makes things easier.
A few tips to get you shouting
Want to work in gaming? Talk about your passion for playing those games.
Want to record audiobooks? Talk about your passion for reading, how you love being taken into a story and forgetting the rest of the world.
Got a background in medical or technical industries? Talk about how your knowledge and experience give you insights into what the end-user needs. Or simply – you know how to pronounce words like ‘Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis’ (thank you Rory Barnett for teaching me that one!)
Love performing on stage or screen? Talk about bringing different characters to life.
The magical combination of all the things that make you you – that is your voice over USP. Your secret sauce and your fabulousness.
I work with voice overs from all over the globe to help them find their fabulous and shout about the amazing work they do. Have a look at my 1-2-1 branding packages and let’s dig deep into your brand together.