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11 December 2012

Know your USP

By Andrew Clifford

Defining your product's unique selling proposition (USP) is not the same as listing its features.

At Metrici, we want to reposition our product. Currently we position Metrici as a professional assessment platform. It gathers and manages complex data from surveys and assessments, and analyses and reports on the data in multiple ways. We emphasise its flexibility, allowing you to quickly configure a solution that meets your precise needs, rather than make do with a solution that only does part of the job, while avoiding the cost of bespoke development.

We want to reposition Metrici as a more general platform. As well as surveys and assessments, you can use it to create databases, web content, reporting systems, document management, and pretty much any application you can imagine.

Repositioning our product puts us in competition with everyone. As well as competing with Excel and bespoke development, we will come up against large platforms: SaaS platforms such as SalesForce.com, content management platforms like Joomla and Drupal, and broad business platforms like Lotus Notes and Sharepoint.

To have any hope of competing, we need to promote our unique selling proposition (USP). We need to know "what's different about Metrici" if we are to have any hope of convincing customers.

Being faster and cheaper and more versatile is not enough. There are lots of things that make Metrici fast: it is web-delivered, database and user interface definition are automated, and you can rearrange how the tool works to best suit the solution you are creating. These are great features for us because they allow us to present solutions in many situations. However, customers are only buying for a single situation. The fact that we can quickly configure Metrici to be, say, a document management system, does not necessarily mean that it is a better document management system than others or that it is quicker to configure the final solution in Metrici.

Instead, our USP is that we can deal with the unknown. We need to present this carefully. Presenting it as "Metrici - for the man who doesn't know what he wants" won't get us very far. Here are some better examples of what I mean:

  • Where the business requirement is not known, and you need to evolve the solution gradually through time.
  • Where the investment case is not established, and you need to start small and grow the solution as and when the case is better defined.
  • Where sources of funding are not known, and you need to start the solution very cheaply.
  • Where business support is not established, and you need to build the solution to get support for the solution.
  • Where you don't know how you are going to find the time to create the solution.
  • Where the needs of your customers keep changing.
  • Where you do not know what tools can meet all your requirements.

Put another way, the USP of Metrici is that it is the opposite of traditional systems development. Traditional systems development requires an established business case, stable, signed-off requirements, buy-in from users, ample funding, long timescales, and a well-understood architecture. If you have all those things, maybe Metrici isn't for you. Our USP is that we can help when you don't.

Next: The pitfalls of productivity

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