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Perry Marshall: Secret of the Billion-Dollar USP


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/

I got this note from long-time Planet Perry member and expert copywriter Nick Neilson. Nick always asks great questions:

In the software company I’ve started, I was torn between re-learning to code or hiring it out. I learned to code several years ago, but I’ve never been great at it. No doubt, there are middle school kids that can code circles around me. But I do know the theory of OOP and have the capacity to pick it back up.

I had a choice – do I maximize my existing strengths and stick with the marketing (my inner Dan Kennedy is screaming this at me) or do I expand my understanding of mathematics and technical understanding of my product (a perhaps malformed version of my inner Perry is gently persuading)?

Nick Neilson


If you crave the personal satisfaction of indulging a technical adventure, then your answer is also a personal one. Follow your passion and consider it a HOBBY.

The business answer hinges on USP. What is *your* personal Unique Selling Proposition? In your new software company, can you deliver and uniquely guarantee better than anyone else in the world?

From what I know of you, I doubt it’s writing code. I bet you can hire coders 10X better than you for less than your pay grade. Code all by itself is a commodity. Seldom does code cost more than $100 per hour.

I suspect your real contribution is the architecture: orchestrating the grand picture, defining your product and putting the ribbon on top – exactly as your customers want it and need it. Then demonstrating it to the world.

Henry Ford used this formula to create a billion dollar USP.

Ford didn’t invent the automobile. Nor the assembly line. Nor many ideas of modular manufacturing. His true genius was stir-frying outside ingredients together so magnificently that many people assume he invented all three! The foundation of a century-long legacy.

The big lever in any venture is *defining* your product’s USP, through your ingenuity and market knowledge. When your project hits pay dirt (which of course is seldom guaranteed) that is $10,000 per hour work.

My experience is, the true magic of the marketer is where multiple realms overlap. Some peculiar aspect of code writing or software architecture AND intimate knowledge of some tribe or market AND intimate knowledge of some additional factor, blending all together for a truly unique recipe.

Cross-pollinating multiple disciplines doesn’t require massive mental horsepower. Mostly it’s fueled by passion and a willingness to not overlook the obvious.

That’s what a killer USP looks like, tastes like, smells like. There may be facets of software or coding or math that will serve you, especially in the high-level architecture. Whatever they are, choose your tasks carefully!

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