What is a unique selling proposition?
A unique selling proposition, more commonly referred to as a USP, is the one thing that makes your business better than the competition. It’s a specific benefit that makes your business stand out when compared to other businesses in your market.
Forming an opinionated and deliberate USP helps focus your marketing strategy and influences messaging, branding, copywriting, and other marketing decisions. At its core, a USP should quickly answer a potential customer’s most immediate question when they encounter your brand:
“What makes you different from the competition?”
Your USP plays to your strengths and should be based on what makes your brand or product uniquely valuable to your customers. Being “unique” is rarely a strong USP in itself. You have to differentiate around some aspect your target audience cares about, otherwise your messaging won’t be nearly as effective.
A compelling USP should be:
- Assertive, but defensible: A specific position that forces you to make a case against competing products is more memorable than a generic stance, like “we sell high-quality products.”
- Focused on what your customers value: “Unique” won’t count for much if it’s not something your target customers truly care about.
- More than a slogan: While a slogan is one way your USP can be communicated, it’s also something that you can embody in other areas of your business, from your return policy to your supply chain. You should be able to talk the talk andwalk the walk.
Why You Need a Unique Selling Proposition
It’s likely that many of your prospective customers have difficulty deciding which option in your industry is the one that deserves their time, money and trust.
This selection can be a daunting process for customers that don’t have the experience to know what separates one competitor from another.
That’s why it is your job to assist them by making your unique selling proposition obvious, different and memorable enough that they can see exactly what your business has to offer that the other guys do not.
As Theodore Levitt, author and professor at Harvard Business School, says:
Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.”
In order to be remembered in a crowded marketplace, it helps if your business has a trait that’s worth remembering.
While a superior product and outstanding service are the foundation for growing a company that goes the distance, there is an opportunity to use differentiation as a competitive advantage in order to stand out like a sore thumb.
It’s not necessarily what you sell that has to be unique, but the message you choose to focus on that your competition doesn’t.
A unique selling proposition is a statement you choose to embody that differentiates your products and your brand from your competitors.
How to write your own unique selling proposition
Every USP is going to be, well, unique but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a process you can follow to put yourself on the right track. Here’s how you can write yours:
- Make a list of all the potential differentiators of your brand and what you sell. And get specific. Breakout products and compelling marketing messages rely on precision: they solve the exact right problem and communicate that benefit to customers in their own words.
- Research the competition. Who are your competitors and what are their USPs? Look for gaps where you can potentially introduce your brand differently. Products in the same category can be positioned in wildly different ways—footwear, for example, can emphasize style, comfort, or durability.
- Compare your most unique angles against your audience’s needs. Are there any customer needs that haven’t been filled? Do you see any pain points that you can appeal to that your competitors haven’t?
- Compile the data. Take the information that you’ve learned, and sift through it to single out your strongest USP.
- Think about viable ways to apply it across your business. Applied properly, a USP can be woven into different areas of your business, from your brand name to your return policy to reinforce the idea to your customers.
Once you have a vague idea of what your USP is, it might help to express it as a positioning statement so you can get it down on paper:
This won’t be exactly what you advertise on your website, but it should help you clarify your USP, its audience, and any specific differentiators that might be worth highlighting.
Unique selling propositions: Defining your competitive edge
A USP isn’t just a persuasive line of copy on your home page. It’s ultimately how you position your products or even your entire business to the rest of the world.
Your products don’t need to be wholly unique in and of themselves for you to have a strong unique selling proposition. Instead, look for a spot in the market where you can plant your flag that is relatively untouched by the competition.
There may be a dozen ways you could sell your products, but your USP is the big idea that best positions your brand according to what your customers care about and what your competitors aren’t.
Ready to develop your USP but not sure where to start?
Book your free brand consultation today and lets help you build a brand customers love!