I am going to a workshop on Wednesday where I know that all attendees will be asked about the USP (unique selling proposition) of their offering – in other words, what differentiates their product or service. The short answer for most people is that they don’t have a USP. Or they don’t until you drill right down to find out that they have a 12 axis machine centre or a 10 colour printing machine or their ‘O’ rings are made of a special formulation of polywhatsitsname. And surely a sub-sea gas valve is, when all is said and done, a sub-sea gas valve.

But I know why we will all be asked about our USP’s on Wednesday. The course leaders want to focus on how we should all be selling ourselves before we begin to sell our products and services. This is, obviously, why some accountancy firms are successful and why some aren’t. Its the soft stuff. The people part. Its the truth that, in B2B at least, people buy from people. And the successful firms employ people who sell themselves. Don’t they?

But the USP thing got me thinking. I began to count InfoQuest’s USP’s.

1. It has the highest response rate for any B2B customer satisfaction survey that I’ve come across – and I’ve been looking for 16 years.

2. It poses up to 62 questions and statements without the response rate being affected. One person recently thought I was lying until he saw the video.

3. We attribute all of the feedback. Now, telling your client precisely who said what in a survey is not exactly ‘unique’, but the MRS, the MRA and ESOMAR would prefer that we didn’t – to the point that all three of their codes of conduct forbid it.

4. We have up to 27 years worth of world-class benchmark scores to the questions in our survey question library. No-one else has that.

5. We have our own special computer program, which works on a neural networking principle, which will identify the key drivers of customer satisfaction for a specific set of results. This is only brought into play on larger surveys, and is a fantastic tool for prioritising the action plan.

6. And we can offer a 10:1 return on investment guarantee (subject to meeting some simple criteria). Again, I’ve not seen anyone with such an offering – and I’ve been looking.

So, six USP’s. What does that mean? Well, perhaps it means that I’ve been selling the USP’s and not selling myself (I’ll find out on Wednesday). But I’ve found that there are also unintended consequences when you have such an unusual offering. One of those is that you won’t find anyone from InfoQuest giving a talk at any of the many industry symposia.

Why?

In two weeks time the MRS is having its annual 2-day conference in London called Impact. The MRS does not like us because InfoQuest break their rules – and I received a nasty (aggressive and personally insulting) e-mail from one of their senior people just last month.

IIeX, the Insights Innovation Conference is being held later this week in Amsterdam. Not only are we not allowed to speak (because we are not new and innovative) but, perhaps because I’ve challenged the newbies to match InfoQuest’s performance, one of the organisers, who lives near me, won’t even meet me.

Should I take this animosity as a complement? I have been doing. But perhaps, after the workshop on Wednesday, I will be a changed person.