Developing a USP

By Vanessa Bird / 12 Jul 2022

A unique selling point, also known as a unique selling proposition (USP) can be a very effective way to drive business and raise your profile.

Finding and developing your USP is key to growth and success. Sometimes it’s hard to find your voice and stand out in aesthetics and with so many similar treatments in common it can often be down to location, branding or patient preference that brings people through your door. Yet there is another way to differentiate yourself in this crowded marketplace that will not only benefit you but will also benefit your patients and professional profile.

This article will identify what a USP is and how it compares to a specialty. Once the differences are clear and you understand why it is beneficial both professionally and personally to have one, this article will help you identify one or more that resonates with you.

USP or specialty?

A USP is something which makes you stand out from your competition, encourages people to want the benefits of what you offer or buy whatever it is you are selling. The term was first used in the 1960s in a book called Reality In Advertising by Rosser Reeves who worked for a TV advertising agency.1 He noticed that if he repeatedly focused on one specific feature or benefit of a product then consumers would soon think of that when they saw an advertisement for the product. It would effectively make the brands, product or item ‘stand out’ from the crowd.

A specialty is when you focus on a particular type of patient (for example peri-menopausal/menopausal women or patients who have undergone significant weight loss), a particular condition (such as acne, rosacea or hirsutism) or even a surgical or non-surgical technique.

In the UK there are currently 61 specialties in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council.2 A specialty, although important, would not be classed as a USP yet you could build upon a specialty to develop a USP.

In the aesthetics industry, a USP needs to be something that showcases to the patient the benefits of coming to you for a treatment over other practitioners or clinics. It could be that only you provide a particular technique or combination therapy that delivers an impressive clinical result, or that your clinic has a particular way of treating patients (perhaps a special aesthetic membership or ‘all-inclusive’ approach) that brings extra value to the patient. It could even be the type of work you do in aesthetics that supports a particular group or demographic.

Why does it matter?

For patients researching practitioners and treatments it can all be very confusing. How do they know who to choose or what to look for? Why select one treatment over another? If every aesthetic clinic looks ‘the same’, it can be difficult to differentiate why they should go to you over another local clinic. Usually in this instance the prospect will often default to making a decision based on price, location or availability. Having a USP gives you something unique to promote online as well as being a talking point among people who are keen to share your specialty with friends, family and work colleagues.

Another reason for developing a USP in aesthetics is to develop your professional profile, enhance your career and attract more attention. In the same way that clinics may seem very similar unless they have something unique or different that attracts attention, practitioners can sometimes seem similar too. What makes one injector turn heads? Why should one laser practitioner be deemed the go-to person in the industry over another if they’ve had the same training and use the same technology? Having a unique selling point that ‘solves a problem or meets a demand’ can bring your name to the ears of companies looking for their next key opinion leader (KOL) or speaker. The higher your profile and the more positive ‘noise’ you make in the industry, the more likely companies looking to sell their technology or products will approach you with an attractive deal. After all, having their device or product in the clinic of a leading aesthetic name will bring them free ‘PR’ and also help them sell more devices or products by attracting enquiries from your peers.

Should the patient-facing USP be different to the industry-facing USP? Not necessarily. There is no reason why they cannot be the same. You may look at a slightly different way of promoting the benefits of your USP depending on your target market but often the USP remains the same. For example, if you have helped develop new techniques for threads and written a clinical paper you should promote this experience and knowledge within the industry, perhaps by writing articles for publication or speaking on stage as an industry expert. To attract more patients, you can state on your website and social media that you are a trailblazer in threads having developed new techniques that you now bring to your clinic to enhance results. However, if you are the kind of person who likes to have more than one USP, consider developing different ones for different audiences.

How do you identify and select a USP?

Who can help you identify a USP? You want to solve a problem or meet a need that is either not currently met or could be done differently. You can discuss it with people you trust and whose opinions you value; most likely friends and peers who understand the industry you work in. However, before you start asking others, look inwards. The easiest and quickest way to shortlist potential areas where you can develop your unique selling point is to put aside some time, sit down with a notebook and ask yourself the following questions:

What am I passionate about?

The reason we start with passion is because people work harder developing a passion, as mentioned in Forbes.3 If you want a USP, it will take considerable investment in time, money and energy to increase your knowledge and develop your skillset. Feeling passionate about it will make this less like a chore and more enjoyable.

When answering this question think about whether there is particular type of treatment/technique you enjoy or a certain patient demographic you love working with. Perhaps it is the approach you have to doing business such as offering a patient a full concierge service to make them feel valued or giving back to the community with pro bono work?

Are you a specialist in anything?

If you are a specialist, you already have in-depth knowledge and expertise that you can build upon and refine to become your USP. For example, you might be on a board of experts or be a trainer for an injectables company. However, if you aren’t a specialist that’s ok, it just may take some time and a brainstorming session working on the points listed in this article.

Are there any potential gaps in the market?

Aesthetic medicine is a constantly expanding industry with new products, technologies and techniques on display at every aesthetic conference globally. As we move towards areas such as regenerative aesthetic medicine, wellbeing, robotics and biohacking there may be greater opportunities to identify a USP that is less ‘competitive’ than others which means you are more likely to stand out. Attend conferences such as the Aesthetics Conference and Exhibition (ACE) or CCR and be open to where the future of aesthetic medicine is heading.

Would you need to invest in more training to get to the level you would need to be at to have this as a USP?

This is a more practical question. Will you have the time and money necessary to develop something into a USP? If you are already building on a passion or a specialty this may not be as important a question as you have already invested, but if you want to choose a USP based on a gap in the market, a particular business model or something you are less familiar with, take it into consideration.

What do you want to achieve from this?

It’s nice to have a USP and it gets you attention, but you need to break down exactly what you want to achieve from having a specific USP. Is it purely to attract more patients and grow your business or do you want it to help you develop your professional profile and reputation in the industry? Maybe you hope to open doors so you can collaborate with companies or peers, be on stage speaking at conferences or be offered KOL roles.

Developing your USP

Now that you have selected one or more USPs you will need to develop them and get the word out to your target audience. Start by treating your team if it is a treatment or technique or introduce the process if it is a new way of doing business or caring for patients. They will be your ambassadors and will be able to give feedback on how you can fine-tune and improve the USP. After this, announce it in-clinic to your existing patients, sending out e-shots and newsletters, updating your blog and posting on social media. You need to deliver on a USP so ensure that the treatment protocols and/or the patient journey, aftercare or experience reflect this.

Build upon your USP

Further development can come from creating buzz and PR around it. Reach out to beauty and aesthetic editors, journalists, influencers and other specialists and invite them to try it so they can raise awareness by writing or vlogging about it. Submit articles to educational publications such as the Aesthetics journal so your peers can learn from you or speak at conferences such as ACE or CCR. Consider investing in a targeted marketing campaign or, if budget allows a PR agency who can showcase it. Most importantly, stay open to building on your USP in the future. Keep up to date with new trends, training and ensure you adapt your USP as and when necessary to stay unique.

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