Whether you run a mom-and-pop store, an e-commerce business or a startup, you need to find your business’s unique selling proposition (USP). When you know what makes you different from or better than your competition, it’s harder to get lost among the crowd.
What is a unique selling proposition (USP)?
A USP is the unique quality that sets your business apart from the thousands of other businesses out there. It’s the distinguishing factor that makes your customers come back, again and again for your products or services.
The concept of a USP was introduced by Rosser Reeves of the legendary Ted Bates advertising agency in the 1940s. According to Reeves, a USP is what gives marketing campaigns an extra jolt and makes customers notice and connect with the product.
There’s no denying that without a USP, your business is like a ship that has lost its rudder. Your USP is what steers all of your business operations on the right path. So how do you identify your business’s USP?
How can you determine your business’s USP?
This definitive guide includes a step-by-step approach to figuring out your business’s USP. By the time you finish reading this, you will have a clear strategy for identifying and defining your USP.
Step 1: Brainstorm ideas.
Creating a business’s USP is not a task for a single individual – it’s a team effort. It should include people from all departments, like customer support, marketing, sales, finance, IT, product development and HR. Get them together and start collecting their ideas.
Ask your team what they think separates your business from its competitors. Initially, you may get only vague answers like “our product is better,” “we provide better customer service,” “we have more experience,” and so on.
But that’s OK. Don’t be judgmental. Remember, this is a brainstorming session, and all you’re doing is gathering ideas. Keep a record of this input for later.
Step 2: Identify your customer.
Businesses often make the mistake of promoting their products and services without understanding their target audience. Before you can sell to your customers, you need to identify them based on their age, location, gender, earning levels and other such characteristics.
Then, you can group them into different buyer personas, and be specific. The more you’re able to define the characteristics of your target audience, the better.
Step 3: Analyze your competitors.
This step is all about market research. Before you find out what makes your product unique, you have to discover what’s available to your target audience. Start by listing your direct competitors, then do an in-depth analysis of each of them.
Find similar products offered by competitors. Focus on how your competitors promote their products. Take a look at their social media pages, websites and other marketing materials.
Try to get a clear picture of all your competing products’ strengths and weaknesses.
Are you interested in conducting competitor research, but not sure where to start? These 13 marketing research tools will help you study your competitors more effectively.
Step 4: List your strengths.
Consider your strengths as a business. What makes your products better? Is your pricing competitive? Do you make it easier for the customer to order products? Do customers like your free delivery option? What are the features that make your product stand out?
Once you identify your strengths, you can market them to attract your target audience.
Step 5: Know your weaknesses.
This step is crucial. You can only overcome your weaknesses if you’re aware of them. Once you understand what your weak spots are, come up with a strategy for improvement. For instance, if your products are priced higher than competitors’ because you offer extra features, then make sure that you don’t mention pricing in your marketing.
Step 6: Figure out what makes you unique.
This is the crux of the whole exercise – what makes you unique? How do you stand out from your competitors?
Use all of the data collected in the previous steps to think about the features that make your brand distinct. This could include data from the input of your employees as well as your analysis of your strengths and weaknesses.
Think of something none of your competitors offer, something that resonates with the needs of your target audience. Look for that magic element in your business that isn’t found anywhere else. Voila – that’s your USP.
Step 7: Translate your USP into the right words.
Once you have your USP, find a way to sum it up. Be clear and concise.
Stay away from big words that make it difficult for the customer to connect with your brand. Keep your USP short and sweet for maximum impact.
It can be helpful to A/B test two different USPs on your company’s landing page. When you test two USPs against each other, you can see which message resonates more with your audience.
What are examples of successful USPs?
Let’s take a look at the USPs of some famous businesses to give you an idea of why they work.
“We’re number two. We try harder.” – Avis
This USP is effective because it transforms Avis’s weakness into a sign of positivity. The car rental brand doesn’t want to be stuck at No. 2, and it has managed to convince customers it will give its all to move up. The best part? Avis expresses all of this in six short words.
“Love your beverage. Or let us know, we’ll make it right.” – Starbucks
Starbucks isn’t the cheapest coffee brand out there, nor is it the most luxurious. So how do you transform a brand that’s somewhere in the middle to the world’s most popular coffee chain? It taps into what all coffee lovers expect – a drink tailored to their specific tastes. This is Starbucks’ USP, and the company nailed it.
“Sheer driving pleasure.” – BMW
Nothing more needs to be said. BMW knows what it’s good at, and it communicates that message effectively.
What is the strategy behind developing a USP?
Your USP is all about answering these questions from your customers: “Why you?”, “Why should I buy from you?” or “Why should I pay for your services?”
Your USP is the core personality of your business. It is the reason people should be willing to spend their hard-earned money on your business.
Keep it simple, short and genuine. Once you have uncovered your USP, use it consistently in all of your branding and marketing strategies to attract your target audience.