Discover your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and stop selling on price.
What could be unique about a hair salon, a café, tradesperson or florist? The vast majority of businesses don’t know what their USP is – yet it’s the key to why customers purchase. For our magazines, it is our shelf life – the ability to put your message on your customers’ coffee table, alive and generating results for up to a month. What’s yours?
So, let’s take a look at what a USP is and how to unearth yours.
Wikipedia defines a unique selling proposition (USP) as a unique benefit exhibited by a company, service, product or brand that enables it to stand out from competitors. The unique selling proposition must be a feature that highlights product benefits that are meaningful to consumers.
Importantly, your USP must address your customers’ needs – no point in identifying something unique that nobody wants. Your USP presents as a promise; you can count on this product, service or company to fulfil a need or solve a problem. It should be concise, memorable and compelling.
A commonly-touted USP is that of Domino’s Pizza.
“You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less … or it’s free!”
It’s such a competitive industry, but by understanding what their customers’ value is – and what their competitors don’t offer – they were able to come up with a very powerful USP or promise that is concise, memorable and compelling. By the way, Domino’s no longer use this USP as it resulted in too many accidents with couriers trying to meet the 30-minute delivery deadline!
Why is the USP so important?
It allows your business to avoid competing solely on price. If you have something that is unique, then you are differentiating your product or service from your competitors. Buyers will pay a premium to solve a problem or fulfil a need, especially when they cannot get the equivalent elsewhere.
So, what about that florist I mentioned earlier? Surely there is nothing unique about a florist? Importantly, we only need to consider their market place or consumer base. Here are a couple of ideas: “We deliver on service, on price and on time. Fresh flowers, delivered fast,” or “Natural floral arrangements with a ‘hand-picked’ look.” Nobody is saying it is easy, just that it is worthwhile.
Four steps to creating your USP
A couple of things to remember before we start:
You can focus on a single product or service – it doesn’t have to be the whole business.
Your USP must solve a problem or fulfil a need to your customer base.
Your customer base doesn’t mean everyone – all ages, all socio-economic groups or all locations!
Identify the Features and Benefits
I wrote about features and benefits in a previous article. Start by listing as many features and benefits you can think of. Look for inspiration, ask some work colleagues, customers or research your competitors. Maybe you can identify a gap in the market, or maybe you don’t currently offer a certain benefit but could easily do so. Ultimately, you are looking for something that will give you a competitive advantage.
Know what your customer wants
Why do they buy your product or service? Why do they buy your competitors’? It’s not just about price. Think convenience, trust, time-saving, quality, image, reliability, luxury, uniqueness, cleanliness, ergonomics, environmentally friendliness, and social responsibility.
Hone in on your USP
Now you have identified why your customers buy, it’s time to match this with your product or services’ features and benefits. Try and isolate the ones that are unique or can be used to differentiate you from your competitors.
Having done this, it’s time to create your concise, memorable and compelling USP. Focus on the benefit and what problem you can solve. Develop multiple phrases for each USP and then test them on anyone who will listen. Survey your customers and work colleagues or asks your friends. Hone and polish until you have a statement that sets you apart from the competition, is concise and motivates your customer to purchase. Your USP is your promise to your customers – remember, it’s all about me, me and me. Know what me wants and I’m yours. When it becomes about you, you’ve lost me.
Make your USP work for you!
So often I come across businesses that have a great USP or slogan, or have won awards, but are failing to capitalise on them. Your Unique Selling Proposition allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors. It allows you to charge a premium. It identifies what motivates your customer to buy and then offers it to them. Make it work for you.
Use your USP in all your advertising collateral – it should be central to your marketing strategy. In your adverts, it should be the headline or a prominent tagline. The more often you convey your USP, the more readily people will identify your product, business or service as being different from the competition and better able to fulfil their need or solve their problem.