Have you ever thought about what makes your business unique? If you think about it, there is probably another business that provides a very similar product or service that you do. After all, a little competition should be embraced as it drives businesses to compete. So why so should a consumer do business with you rather than your competitor? That’s where your unique selling proposition (USP) comes into play.
Unique Selling Proposition Definition
A unique selling proposition is short description of an unique marketing differentiator that sets you apart from your competitors. Usually your USP is synonymous with your brand and its vision. Think of it as an elevator pitch as to what you are selling, how it benefits people, and why people should choose you over a competitor. It is usually short and concise being no longer than a single sentence. Usually USP’s are based on facts and not assumptions. For example, everyone believes they have the lowest price or the best customer service. That’s still too broad to be considered an advantage over your competitors. Whatever USP you choose will have an imprint on all aspects of your business and can often help dictate the direction in which you operate. It becomes what you are known for.
10 Examples of USPs
- Nike – Just Do It
- Zappos – Powered by Service
- Redbull – Gives You Wings
- McDonald‘s – I’m Lovin’ It
- Domino‘s – Hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free
- Lowes – Never Stop Improving
- Rolex – Quality Takes Time
- Men’s Warehouse – You’re gonna look good. I Guarantee it.
- Staples – That Was Easy
- Samsung Galaxy S4 – The Next Big Thing is Here
We see, interact, use, come across hundreds if not thousands of brands every single day. Most are are not household names but many are globally recognized. When you think of a famous brand, usually you can easily associate one thing about them quickly. For example, car manufacturers have a clear vision of who they want to market to and why someone might buy their car:
- Volvo – Safe
- Subaru – All wheel drive
- Toyota – Reliability
- Lamborghini – Exotic
- BMW – Handling
While these are not the USP’s for these particular companies, they’ve done a great job over time to distinguish themselves as leaders for a specific segment in a very competitive automotive industry. It’s a little difficult to compare apples to apples to a smaller business, but these companies now have USP’s that mirror what is the perceived benefit of purchasing a vehicle of theirs. For example, Subaru’s USP is “Confidence in Motion” and BMW’s USP is “Ultimate Driving Machine“.
Ways to Create a Unique Selling Proposition
- Find your audience – All businesses have a target demographic who is their ‘ideal’ customer would be. This includes age, location, gender, interests, income, etc. You’ll have to start a little broad and narrow in as it all comes to shape. A perfect example are social networks. Facebook was for college students. LinkedIn is for professionals.
- Customer psychology – Think about if your customer is buying something based on wants versus needs. Are they in dire need for something to fix an immediate problem or can they wait a little bit before purchasing your product/service? You can model your USP around this sense of urgency. For example, Amazon is now commonly known for it’s guaranteed two-day shipping.
- Identify the problem – You have something that someone is looking for. Now you must identify what problem you are solving when someone purchases your product/service. Refer to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Someone may be trying to improve their self confidence, healthy, happiness, productivity, etc. For example, GrassHopper offers virtual phone systems that make you “Sound like a Fortune 500 Company”.
- Benefits they’ll receive – By purchasing your product/service they must benefit greatly from it as this is the end result. This ultimately your competitive advantage and what separates you from the rest. This is the indirect guarantee someone will receive. There’s a ton of energy drinks out there but 5-Hour Energy is unique since it’s small, zero sugar and carbs, and a proclaimed 5 hours of extra energy.
- Continue to Tweak – USP’s are always changing and it’s absolutely OK. Keep in mind your brand can have a different USP from the actual product/service you provide as seen above with the Samsung Galaxy S4 reference.
As I said earlier, it’s hard to compare yourself with big brands as they’ve been around for decades so their USP doesn’t need to drive home as much. For you, as a small business, it’s crucial to understand the elements of a well crafted unique selling proposition. So now I ask yourself this: Why should anyone buy from you?