You will have heard people speak of a ‘USP’. This is short for ‘Unique Selling Proposition’, or ‘Unique Selling Point’, or sometimes ‘Unique Selling Position’.
A USP is essentially a statement that sets out why your business and the products and services you offer are different from your competitors.
It is the reason (or reasons, if you have more than one USP) customers will choose your business over others that supply the same or similar products and services to yours.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog piece, when discussing the importance of having a slogan, there is some debate as to whether it is possible to have a USP.
The thinking here is around whether selling propositions are truly genuine. Something that is unique can only be unique, it is argued. It cannot be somewhat unique or quite unique. It is unique, or it isn’t. The prevailing question here is, which of us can honestly claim our business, our products and services are wholly unique?
Personally, I believe it is possible to have a USP and my belief is based purely upon the brand story that is associated with a business, a product or service. What makes your business brand unique is you!
Your USP presents an opportunity to bring focus. If you are a business owner then focus can be upon who you are as a person, why you have a business and why you have chosen the particular business you are in.
Your focus should extend to your staff too, if you have them, and how you want your staff to inhabit and represent your business brand.
The way you and your staff operate along with the branding and marketing collateral you use should work together to set your business apart from the competition, make your business memorable and pull customers to the products and services you have on offer.
The following is a four-step process that will help you to set down a unique selling proposition for your business and your new product or service.
Step 1: Reflect upon your Overall Goals
The development of your USP should begin with your values, your vision, your mission statement and the overall goals you have set yourself. You should find all this information in your business plan.
Writing a business plan can seem daunting to some. It need not be. A simple business plan, which will become the ‘go-to’ reference point of your business, can be set out on as few as 2 or 3 A4 pages as a start.
It is worth having somebody with you who isn’t directly connected with your business to help you think through some of the basic questions about your business and the products and services your business offers and about who you plan to sell to and why.
Step 2: Offer Solutions
Your second step toward developing your USP should lead you to identify and understand the ‘pain’ your target market has. I use the word ‘pain’ instead of, say, ‘problem’ or ‘challenge’ because we all know from our human experience how we feel about pain and what we instinctively do with pain.
Pain is usually a symptom of an underlying problem that requires a form of treatment. If you are anything like me, you will want to deal with pain effectively and as quickly as possible.
Your customers will have their pain and you should have the ‘treatment’ available for them in the products and services you offer. If the pain is severe and customers can see your business has the ability to treat then your customers will buy!
Customers will come to you if they can see you identify with their need, can meet their need and can demonstrate you’ve met such needs successfully before.
Step 3: Show How You Are Truly Different
The next step forward to developing your USP is to show how you are truly different from or (hopefully) better than your competitors.
The value proposition here is key and it will be one of the principal reasons why your customers will choose your business instead of a competitor – sometimes when your business offering is more expensive.
Qualities that truly make your business different can be the story behind your business and how it came to exist in the first place. Perhaps there is something about the customer experience your business provides that is underpinned by your story that sets your business apart. Your USP could lie in the originality of the products you sell or the service you offer. Perhaps there are essential values within your business with which your customers wish to align themselves.
Step 4: Keep to Your Word
This final step blends together the essential elements of the earlier steps.
It is at this stage a succinct statement is decided upon that represents and symbolises the true value of your business and the products and services it offers.
Ultimately, this statement becomes a promise, which sets an expectation within the minds of customers.
It is crucial that you, your staff and your products and services live up to the promise made, that you keep to your word.
If you don’t your customers will vote with their feet, either by holding you and your business to account or by taking their patronage elsewhere – along with their disappointments and opinions.
A USP is essentially a statement that sets out why your business and the products and services you offer are different from, and hopefully better than, your competitors.
When it comes to landing upon a USP for your business ensure that it reflects well upon your overall goals, that it offers solutions to customer need and the ‘pain’ they have. Showing how truly different your business is, that you meet customer expectations and that you keep to your word is also crucial.
For further discussion please contact me here at Future Point 4 Business.
Founder Director, Future Point 4 Business