Today, I want to talk about developing your own Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for your military career and I also want to explain how it affects your military career. This is one piece of career advice I never learned from the military. I actually learned about it as an entrepreneur and I incorporated it into my military career with great success.
Let’s begin by answering the question “what is a Unique Selling Proposition?” I would simply define it as what makes you unique, or what you bring to the table that makes you different than everyone else. Simply put, it’s what you want to be known for.
In the business world, businesses have their own Unique Selling Proposition. Here are a few examples:
- “We’re number two. We try harder.” ~ Avis
- “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth not in your hand.” ~ M&Ms
- “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.” ~ Domino’s Pizza
Here are some example Unique Selling Propositions for military leaders:
- “CPT Anderson is the ultimate Project Manager who can manage multiple tasks at one time, even in a fast paced, high-stress environment.”
- “MAJ Holmes is the work horse. He’s the guy you give a tough project to when you are on a tight deadline, yet you want the project done and done right.”
- “SFC Jones is the NCOER guru. He knows NCOERs and the NCOER Regulations better than anyone else. He is the one stop NCOER Resource Guy!”
Can you see how these were specific and told you exactly what the person brought to the table and was known for?
Why do you need a Unique Selling Proposition in the military? Because the Army is a big organization and if you want to stand out and excel your career, it’s up to you. It takes more than talent to make it to the top. People have to know WHO you are and WHAT you bring to the table.
Success starts by being good at what you do, but it really boils down to being exceptional at something specific AND making sure others know what that THING is. You must know what you are REALLY good at and you must relay and showcase those skills to others through your own USP.
Where can you use your USP? I think you should start by adding it to your military business card. You should also add it to your email signature. You should also have it put on your own official stationary. And you should let your boss and peers know what it is that you want to be known for.
How can you create your own USP? This step is actually quite easy. I tell people to take out a piece of paper and write down everything you think you are good at. Next, ask your boss what are the two or three things they think you are best at. Finally, ask your subordinates the same question.
Once you do that, you should know what you are good at. The next step is to write down WHY you are good at that certain task. It also helps to think about what you want to be known for and what you want to accomplish in your career.
When I was creating my own Unique Selling Proposition many years ago, I wrote down the following things:
- I like handling tough projects that no one else wants
- I am reliable and self-motivated
- I am a professional and am good at what I do
- I am doer
- I get things done and done right
- I thrive on tough, high pressure tasks
From there I drafted up a Unique Selling Proposition that said something like:
“MAJ Holmes is a doer. He is the guy you want to give your toughest project too when you have a short deadline. He is reliable, competent, self-motivated and can get any job done and done right, with little or no supervision or guidance.”
Putting It All Together
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. I’m not a business person; therefore I don’t need a USP.
My response to you is you don’t need one if you want to be average. You don’t need one if you are satisfied with the status quo. But, if you want to rise to the top in the military, it would definitely be in your best interest to create one for yourself.
I’d bet that less than one in 1,000 military leaders do it, so you would definitely be in the minority if you chose to create your own USP. To be quite frank with you, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain! So, why not give it a try?
What are your thoughts about having your own Unique Selling Proposition as a military leader? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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