Friday, 2 September 2005

Newsletter Issue 101, September 2005

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 101, September 2005
Hi guys,
Do you know what your Unique Selling Proposition is? If not, read on learn how to find out about USPs & how the concept can benefit your business.
If you haven't heard of Excel's CountIF Function, then now is the time to learn all about it in Part 1 of our series on this function. 
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Unique Selling Proposition

Have you heard of Unique Selling Propositions? Usually known as USPs, the idea behind unique selling propositions is that good advertising/promotion/PR should identify and communicate a point of difference that is so compelling that it drives consumers to purchase your product or service. In other words, a USP should clearly convey "When you buy, you will receive THIS benefit".
So how do you find what your USP is? Simple - just answer three questions:
  1. What is unique to your product or service? This should answer that "What makes your firm different?" question. This is your 'angle' or hook to catch your customer... and you may need to ask your customers what it was that made them buy your product or service to really find out what this is. Focus on benefits, not features - like intangible returns to the customer such as happiness; or tangible ones such as increases in profits (features describe your product or service; benefits are a solution to a problem). If you can't find a completely unique benefit, consider one that your competitors don't promote.
  2. Which target market will gain most from/be most likely to purchase your uniqueness? Your target market is a cluster that you want to buy your product.
  3. What USP is already used by your competitors in this target market? Think about your strengths and your competitors' weaknesses; or create a USP around elements such as quality, service, style, price, selection, location, delivery, budget, terms or accessibility.
Once you identify your USP, you can better communicate with your target market about your product or service, so that your offer will stay in their minds and remind them about what makes you different from the competition.
In addition, your USP can give the media an easy angle for stories. Once you have been featured in a media story tied to your USP, your brand profile starts to grow. It is then up to you to ensure that all your PR is linked more and more strongly linked to your USP to push that advantage. Additionally, word of mouth about the uniqueness of your business will spread more quickly because others will understand why your business is different from your competitors.
If you are old enough, think back to Hertz Rental Cars campaigns. As a rental car company, they weren't the best. They weren't the cheapest. They weren't the most modern. Their point of difference was that they "tried harder". So they told that to their customers, who rented Hertz cars in droves. And that USP made Hertz the largest rental car company for a decade.
So consider your USP. Think carefully and well; then use it to grow your business. Good luck!

Excel's COUNTIF Function Part 1

Excel's COUNTIF function provides a quick and easy way to count the number of times a specified condition or character string appears in your data. It is just what you need to identify how many times James made a sale, how many orders were over $1000 or how many times you bought stamps. Over the next few issues we will look at what you can do with COUNTIF.
A COUNTIF function looks like this '=COUNTIF(range, "criteria")'. It is much easier to understand from an example. To see how many times 5 appears in the following data range:
          Column A
  1. 5
  2. 7.5
  3. 5
  4. 5
  5. 7.5
Key in the formula =COUNTIF(A1:A5,"5"). The formula will return a value of 3 (NB: Enter the COUNTIF criteria in double quotes.
Next time we will look at greater than and less than criteria. Experiment and enjoy.
Thanks to Woody's Office Watch for the background for this series. View what the Office Watch team have to offer at

Seeking Truth on the Internet

I was sent an email recently, relating a story called "Socrates' Triple Filter". When reading the piece, the story sounded like it could be true, but I felt that it read too glibly.
So I did some digging, and found that the version that I had been sent - ironically, about truth - had been doctored. Following is what I believe is the 'real' version of this story. This is worth relating & remembering.
A man wearing red met a man in white and said to him, "Do you know what I just heard about one of your friends?"
"Hold on a minute," said the man in white, "before you talk to me about my friend, have you made sure that what you're about to say is true?"
"No," said the man in red, "I just heard it and thought you'd want to know."
"So you don't really know whether it's true. Well, is what you're about to tell me about my friend something kind or good?"
"No, on the contrary, it's bad."
"So you want to tell me something bad about my friend, and you're not certain it's true. Well, is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful in any way?"
"No, not really," replied the man thoughtfully.
"Well," concluded the man in white, "if what you want to tell me about my friend is neither true nor kind nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?"
This famous conversation happened more than 2,000 years ago. It's interesting to note that no one remembers the name of the man wearing red. The man in white was Socrates.
Keep this philosophy in mind the next time you either hear, or are about to repeat a rumour.
And if you want to view what I was sent - effectively a rumour of the original tale! - go to

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;
  • KMD, Kazaa Media Desktop. A decentralized Internet peer-to-peer software that has lots of embedded spyware in it. While "free music" is attractive, you should avoid this programme at all costs.
  • PUP, Potentially Unwanted Program. A programme that may be unwanted, despite the possibility that users consented to download it (like all the spyware that comes with Kazaa.

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
Continuing our Outlook hot key list, this time we look at all you can do with the mouse or Enter with Shift and Ctrl;
  • Outlook "Edit the web page URL in text body or note" Ctrl & Left Mouse Button
  • Outlook "Specify a Web browser" Shift & Left Mouse Button
  • Outlook "Send/post/invite all (NB: doesn’t work in Word Mail)" Ctrl & Enter
  • Outlook "Move to the previous field without leaving the active card" Shift & Enter

Hot Linx
Check out the NZ labour market & social policy at
If you want to see some amazing flooring, check out this link at gizzmag
For a neat history of Impressionism, the artists and their times, check out this site at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here