When promoting your product/service it is easy to miss a key trick, which is to make what you are selling unique against the competition, making your products clearly the best choice in your customer’s eyes. This is the key focus of the USP, also sometimes said to stand for ‘Unique Selling Point’.
The USP was originally discussed in the 1940s and defined in print by advertising executive Rosser Reeves, who was concerned that advertising was losing track of its purpose.
Rosser Reeves stated:
“Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: ‘Buy this product and you will get this specific benefit.
The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique-either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions; i.e., pull over new customers to your product”.
— Reeves, 1961
A good current example of a clear USP is the well-known Brand:
Head & Shoulders: “You get rid of dandruff”
Other propositions that were pioneers when they were introduced are:
- Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less – or its free”
FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”
M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”
Wonder Bread: “Wonder Bread Helps Build Strong Bodies 12 Ways”
Having a Unique Selling Proposition is not just nice to have, it’s a must have. Without it, your business runs the risk of
- Getting lost in the crowd, as a me-too
- Not being able to attract the target clientele, who might be using another product and is given no incentive to switch
- Being caught in a price war, since that would be the only differentiator, given all other things are equal
That being said, your product or service must clearly deliver value to the user, or it will fail, USP or no USP!
Now that we have covered the background and importance of USP’s; let’s go ahead and cover the various aspects of creating one which is successful.
1. Market Research: First things first, you need to get into your customers heads. Ideally the main reason why you are in business is to help solve your client’s challenges and meet their values within your service/product.
Do not just pick a factor about your product that seems strong to you. Do your research properly. Find out what criteria customers use to compare products against one another.
Clients have a list of desired features or problems that are resolved by the benefits that are conferred by buying your product.
2. Key variables: The USP says what is different about the product, particularly in comparison with major competitors and the market place. Thus you can take a range of variables and produce a table to find out where you are better or worse than competitors.
Variables such as speed, size, convenience, safety, style or ease of use are ones which should be considered in your design. Price is not a key ingredient.
3. Positioning: With the USP you need to position your product not just against the customer’s needs but also against competing products. The USP thus explains what is unique about what you have to sell.
Words such as better, faster, Stronger (etc.) can also be used within your USP to create a more compelling angle.
4. Offer Proof: Consumers are very skeptical of claims companies make, especially with the surge of the information age. So alleviate their skepticism by being specific and offering proof when possible.
5. Clear and concise: Your USP needs to be clear and concise. The most powerful Unique Selling Points are perfectly written.
6. Deliver on your promise: Your USP should have promises and guarantees that capture your audience’s attention, having said that it should be one which you can deliver that.
Having a strong USP can make your business a big success or a big failure if you don’t deliver on it thereby ruining your reputation.
Using a powerful USP is the driving force that builds your business success. Build your USP and use it to optimize your marketing materials for maximum results.
Alex Pirouz is the founder of RIDC Advisory Pty Ltd. A Business and Sales Advisory firm partnering with Australia’s largest and fastest growing companies to further increase their revenue. Visit www.RIDC.com.au for more details)