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If you think the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is something only marketers need to worry about, have a look at this snippet from a letter to T.S. Eliot, by his boss. Geoffrey Faber is explaining why Eliot was the ideal candidate to take charge of poetry publishing at Faber and Gwyer, the firm that eventually became famous under the name Faber and Faber.
In you we have found a man who combines literary gifts with business instincts, who has a wide circle of literary friends, and who is quite as much at home on the lower levels as on the lonely peaks.
(Geoffrey Faber, from a letter in the current British Library exhibition T.S. Eliot the Publisher)
This appointment was a pivotal moment in Eliot’s career: it allowed him to escape his day job at Lloyds Bank, and helped him cement his literary reputation by becoming the most authoritative and influential poetry publisher in Britain, publishing writers such as W.H. Auden, Steven Spender, Louis MacNeice and Ted Hughes.
It was also a decisive moment for Geoffrey Faber, since securing Eliot helped him realise his ambition to grow the firm into a major player in the publishing industry.
So it’s interesting to note that Eliot’s Unique Selling Proposition- a critical factor in his own success as well as Faber’s – was his ability to understand and operate in two worlds at once, as both poet and businessman. As we saw in The T.S. Eliot Guide to Success, this made him something of an outsider among his business associates and literary friends. He didn’t fit the stereotype of either the poet or the banker.
when you step into an intersection of fields, disciplines, or cultures, you can combine existing concepts into a large number of extraordinary new ideas.
In the marketing sphere, this leads to what Sonia Simone calls a Crossroads USP.
Eliot succeeded because he dared to be different and pursue his real interests, no matter how contradictory they appeared to other people. Most of the time, this meant he was a square peg in a round hole. But when a big opportunity came knocking, it was the very thing that made him a perfect fit.
To learn more about Eliot’s career and see some fascinating letters and other documents, visit the free exhibition at the British Library, In a Bloomsbury Square: T.S. Eliot the Publisher.
What’s Your USP?
Has anyone ever told you the USP that made them hire you or want to work with you?
How would you describe your USP?
About the Author: Mark McGuinness is a poet and creative coach.