Whether you’re the first business of your kind, or you’re in an industry with dozens of direct competitors, it’s imperative that you develop a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
It’s the only way to clarify who you are and what sets you apart.
What is a USP?
The official definition of a USP is, “The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.” But that feels a little stuffy and academic. What does it really mean in a context that’s relevant to your business?
As successful digital marketer, entrepreneur, and business owner Neil Patel says, “A unique selling proposition is what your business stands for. It’s what sets your business apart from others because of what your business makes a stand about. Instead of attempting to be known for everything, businesses with a unique selling proposition stand for something specific, and it becomes what you’re known for.”
In a day and age where most businesses try to be everything to everyone, developing a USP forces a company to zero in on exactly what it is they want to do and which portion of the marketplace they’ll target.
Simple Tips for a Better USP
Many businesses don’t have a USP. And of those that do have one, they don’t necessarily have clear and convincing propositions that serve any real purpose or value. Instead, most are developed to check off a box. But what would it look like for you to slow down and articulate a compelling, unique selling proposition that propels your business forward?
Believe it or not, developing an effective USP isn’t as hard as you may think. Here are some simple tips to get you started:
Brainstorm a List
The best way to start this process is by sitting down with a handful of the most important people at your business and conducting a brainstorming session where you write down all of the features that make your product/brand unique. Write down as much as you can. It could be that a seemingly insignificant detail about how you source a particular material for your products is what actually sets you apart.
Once you have a thorough list, strip out some of the fluff and condense the list down to a handful of features and thoughts that are emblematic of the business, its objectives, and the people it serves.
Specificity is key. If your USP is too generic, it’ll sound the same as every other company in your industry. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. It’s okay to alienate a certain group of people who could be your customers so that you reach the ones who should be your customers.
Identify and Target Marketplace Gaps
Every USP development process should include a little competitive analysis. Study what the competition is doing and what opportunities or gaps they’re leaving behind in the marketplace. This is your chance to pounce.
Take Simon George & Sons as an example. The Australia-based fruit and vegetable wholesaler uses the following USP: “We believe that our ability to consistently supply customers with high quality, fresh produce sets our products and services apart from those of our competitors.”
Simon George & Sons takes pride in filling the void of “high quality, fresh” produce that’s often missing in a world of overly processed food and crops that spend too much time in transport before finally being consumed.
What gap are you filling? And how can you communicate this in your USP?
Keep it Simple
Simplicity is a key marketer of a successful USP. If it’s too long, wordy, or complicated, you’ll lose people. You’ll also discover that employees fail to understand or embody the USP. Strip yours down to the basics. In fact, some of the biggest and most successful brands have some of the smallest and most articulate unique selling propositions.
FedEx Corporation’s USP is, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” It doesn’t take a genius to interpret this one. Domino’s Pizza says, “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.” Again, you get the point.
Live Up to Your USP
It’s not enough to create a USP. If you’re going to take the time to develop a unique selling proposition and make it known to your customers, you need to uphold it. This statement represents who you are and what you’re doing. It’s something that should be given respect.