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Your Unique Selling Point

Wednesday 21st August 2019

Have you ever thought about what your USP is? What attracts young people to your Company? What are you offering the local community which is unique and enticing?

Everyone is being encouraged to Raise the Bar, so let’s consider our programme as a product we are selling to young people and work out our USP’s.

USP (Unique Selling Point) is an acronym used often in the competitive business world, so what relevance does it have in youth work? Can anything be learnt from the achievements of the successful business? Generally, all successful businesses have one thing in common, a USP which attracts their customers, and which is unique to them. So, what does selling have to do with The Boys’ Brigade programmes which are run throughout the country on a weekly basis?

Unique Selling Point :

Is a factor that differentiates a product from its competitors, such as the lowest cost, the highest quality or the first-ever product of its kind. A USP could be thought of as “what you have that competitors don’t.”

When The Boys’ Brigade was founded 136 years ago, it was the right product, at the right time, in an uncluttered market of youth activities. Skip forward to 2019, and things are very different. We now exist in a very cluttered youth arena, with school, clubs, sport, homework, online activities and social networks all vying for the attention of the young people. Now is a good time to consider what our USP is. Successful Boys’ Brigade Companies, without even realising it, will have found their USP, and this is what is attracting both the young people and leaders alike. For the Companies struggling to attract members, it is incredibly important to figure out what your USP is, and then market that to the young people.

Q: If you cannot identify your USP, then how are you going to convince young people to join The Boys Brigade?

A USP can be any number of things – harnessing the talents of leaders, making use of the resources which the Company or Church has available, or indeed the values of The Boys’ Brigade and the Church itself. The USP at a local Company level may address a specific need which is not necessarily relevant to BB Companies in other parts of the country, however the organisation as a whole needs to promote its USPs for fear of being lost amongst the many other youth organisations which are currently in the market. The Boys’ Brigade, the oldest Christian Youth organisation with 136 years of heritage is, in itself, a USP.

Have we for many years been hiding our unique services and values, in an attempt to try and blend in with the rest of the opportunities on offer through clubs and organisations? Are we constantly looking at what everyone else is doing, and then trying to create a similar product, which, ends up being just another one of many youth programmes available to young people? Whilst it is good to know what else is on offer to young people in our communities, we need to have and be clear about what our USP’s are and so do the young people we want to attract.

Our programme needs to be innovative, current and unique, and not merely a copy of everything else available to young people. The fact that the BB Company is part of the Church and that it seeks to advance Christ’s Kingdom through providing children and young people an opportunity to get into the Bible and find a personal Christian faith is certainly a USP.

Q: Why should young people choose The Boys’ Brigade programme over the many other activities vying for their time and attention?

Ask yourself, what can we provide for the young people which others cannot? Do the parents and the young people look at the morals and values of an organisation before they choose how to spend their time?

“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

When The Boys’ Brigade carried out a survey with 300 parents/carers and young people earlier in the year, the top 3 three values that came from this were Faith, Fun and Friendship. A number of  parents/carers and young people that completed the survey indicated that their prior perception of BB was not what they found it to be, with the majority saying it was far better – so there’s certainly something there about us not selling ourselves as well as we could be. These represent the views of the audiences we are trying to attract, and may well be some help when thinking about the values you would associate with your Company too.

The USP of your Company may well be defined by the core activities you offer such as The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, playing in a band, playing a sport, being active in the community or having international connections. We should also consider if the USP is different for each age group (section) as it may well be the case that what is offered to each group of young people is very different and therefore our messaging should also be different.

You need to think about your target market. It is no good, hoping young people will turn up at the beginning of a session. Think about what your Company stands for and what you want to be known for. The Raise the Bar campaign challenges us to improve the quality of experience for young people, and by identifying your USP’s, you will become more focused in delivering this.

Q: Maybe you have previously thought about this, but ask yourself, is that USP serving the needs and wants of young people today?

Don’t sit back and assume your USP will last forever. There are so many opportunities out there for young people, products and services are always evolving and there are always new things coming along, so you need to be aware of this, ready and willing to review and where necessary adapt your offering. Successful businesses are continually developing products and ideas, to ensure they have something that will ensure they continue to be effective, and youthwork is no different.

Once you have established your USP’s, it will then allow you to focus your energy on delivery and raising the bar on the quality of experience for children and young people. Having a unique selling point, even one that may not appeal to everyone, is an advantage and stops you falling into the trap of trying to please everyone all the time. It will mean you are able to focus your efforts in terms of sustaining your existing membership and look for growth through recruitment initiatives. By trying to please everyone all the time, we lose our uniqueness, and no longer stand out from the crowded youth sector.

We need to make sure we stand out and are clear about what we are offering – it’s all about finding the right mix that works for your Company, Church and local community.

“Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like.” Brian Chesky, cofounder of Airbnb

In a society where everyone is striving to be the best, is it not better to strive to be different? Let’s not forget that often the personality of the leader is the USP of a successful Company. A strong dynamic leader can be a powerful USP and must not be ignored.

Thinking about your USP

Consider what the unique selling points are for your Company by following these steps:

Your target audience – make a list of who your target audience is, consider different age groups and engagement with parents/carers, young people and other audiences.

Consider what you offer as part of your programme – Make a list of what you offer or could offer – these are all potential selling points.

Consider other opportunities on offer in your local community – Make a list of what else is on offer through other organisations, products or services. Remove the selling points that are already being well met by others in your local community to see what is unique to your Company.

Match each potential USP to your strengths – Match to what your Company/Church (leaders) are especially good at, and how you want to be seen.

Create clear messaging for your Company – Create short phrases that concisely identifies your USP’s that can then be clearly articulated for each of your audiences.

Keep things fresh – Monitor trends and opportunities on offer in your local community that could impact your USP and where necessary review and change things.

If you can’t explain it to a 6-year old, you don’t know it yourself.Albert Einstein

Decide what your USP’s are, and by clearly communicating them to your community, not only will it help you to focus your energy in raising the bar, but it will also help young people, parents/carers and leaders alike to understand what you are offering, and a clear message will hopefully encourage growth and a healthy youth work provision in your local community.

Article by
Colin Swinton

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