If there was somehow a university course called “B2B Startups 101”, one of the earliest lessons would be on formulating your company’s unique selling points (USPs). This is a critically important task for startup founders, one that matters along every stage of your company’s life cycle from early funding rounds to go-to-market.
Yet, considering how fundamentally important it is, there are far too many B2B startups who fail at this task. They pitch VCs or approach partners with unfocussed or shallow USPs that fail to capture the interest of their target audiences.
Unfortunately, creating USPs isn’t a simple formula. It’s not like you can simply write out solution + price = unique selling points. No, there is far more artistry involved and quite a bit of strategy as well. In addition, B2B startups have a different set of requirements for USPs. So, what should you think about as you craft your USP messaging?
There’s more to USPs than product advantages, features, and the competitive landscape
This is perhaps one of the more difficult concepts for B2B founders to accept. They look at their product or solution, create a simple feature chart in comparison to their competitors, and everywhere they have a check mark that their competitor doesn’t, those are their USPs.
Unfortunately, that ignores a fundamental reality of the startup ecosystem – features get copied. There are countless examples of this. Simply take a look at the consumer space with Snapchat and Instagram. The former rose to success with its Stories feature only to see Instagram step in with the same feature. This has considerably hampered Snapchat’s ascension ever since.
Your company’s culture and DNA are more important than features
This is where I think the real value proposition lies for any B2B startup. It’s in the core of your business; the foundation and ingredients that determine whether your business will succeed. As you craft the messaging around your USPs, keep these overlooked factors in mind.
Team – It’s really surprising to me how rarely startup founders focus on the strength of their team when pitching their company. You need to be confident in yourself and that you have the best team because ultimately, it’s the people in your company that need to execute and succeed. Beyond that, enterprises see experience in your team as an incredibly valuable asset – don’t forget it.
Execution excellence – The value of any business is max. 10% idea and min. 90% execution. So focus on the ways you can execute better than your competitors in your USPs. Whether that’s in your sales strategy, or simply in the way your company is structured, these can be just as valuable as a killer feature. Show VCs that you have best-practice execution blueprints – from sales to hiring – that are your secret sauce to execute with excellence.
Branding – In the B2B world, founders smartly focus on the value and functionality of their solution. In the enterprise world that’s a smart move considering how corporates are so focused on value and ROI. However, that doesn’t mean that your company can’t build a strong brand, or that your brand can’t help win over enterprise customers. It’s true that the role of branding in the B2B world isn’t a one-to-one copy of its role in the consumer space, but it still fills a vital need that you shouldn’t forget.
Now, focusing on these factors as you craft a pitch deck or sales strategy is one thing. Even more important than that is focusing on these factors as you build your company – actually integrating these ideas into the core of your business. It’s of course easier said than done but focusing on the core DNA of your company as you build your product can help set you up for success.