Your Unique Selling Proposition

Your company’s unique selling proposition (USP) is something that differentiates you from all your competitors, both locally and industry-wide.  It's what makes you so unique that people will choose to do business with you over any of your competitors.  Your USP states your distinct advantage.

One of the deadliest mistakes businesses make is not being unique. Now more than ever you must differentiate your business.  Today there is an explosion of choices for your prospects and customers.  If you want to survive and thrive you must differentiate yourself in their eyes.  Your USP is what states to the world why you are different.

Factoid: The origin of USP comes from a man named Rosser Reeves who was considered the high priest of hard sell.  He was an advertising agency chairman back in the 60's.  He wrote a book titled, Reality in Advertising that became very popular.  It was translated into 28 languages.  He introduced and defined the concept called Unique Selling Proposition.

Why is Your USP so Important
To be successful in business you don't have to be the best, you just have to be unique.  Identifying, developing, and incorporating your USP into everything you do is challenging.  But the reward is worth every effort. It will differentiate you, distinguish you, and give you an advantage over everyone in your marketplace.

Me too businesses rarely survive.  They usually end up in price wars because they don't have anything unique about them to establish value in the minds of their prospects.  They are left with only one weapon with which to compete, price.  And unless you have a significant cost advantage over your other competitors, you will lose.

Make Your USP Crystal Clear
The more clearly you announce your USP, the more often they'll choose you over your competition.  You must use your USP to dominate your local market.  When a consumer thinks of buying a product in your industry, your name must be the first one that pops into their mind. Your USP must create a real and perceived advantage in your prospect's mind.  For example, Dominos made a very bold guarantee that if they didn't deliver your pizza within 30 minutes of ordering, it would be free of charge.  Dominos put their USP into action.

Be Specific
How many businesses do you hear saying, The Best Selection in Town or Service with a Smile? I have to tell you that these phrases are worn-out, tired renditions of a me too business. Be specific with your USP.  When Domino's stated that your pizza would be, (1) fresh, (2) hot, and (3) delivered within 30 minutes, it was specific and measurable. Buy it today and install it tonight, that's specific and measurable.

How to Identify and Develop Your USP
You shouldn't rush or hurry the decision of your USP. You will spend thousands of dollars on advertising and promoting your USP. Once you've made your impression and then decide to change it you begin to confuse your prospect and it will cost you even more money to re-implement a different USP. If your USP is a promise or guarantee you must make sure that you can fulfill your USP promise.  Domino's had a very bold USP.  To get a pizza to anyone's house in their marketplace within 30 minutes was sometimes a difficult feat to consistently accomplish.  But the rewards were fantastic.

How do you pick a USP?  You need to first identify which needs are going unfulfilled within either your industry or your local market.  These are called performance gaps. Many businesses that base their USP on industry performance gaps are successful. 

Here are some possible examples in different industries:

Example #1 - Auto Repair

  • Performance Gap (problem) = Car workshops have a reputation of being dishonest.
  • Potential USP (solution) = If It Isn’t Broke, We Won't Fix It!


Example #2 - Dental

  • Performance Gap (problem) = No one likes to go to the dentist because it’s a painful experience.
  • Potential USP (solution) = Sedation Dentistry, The Safe, Pain Free Way to Healthy Teeth


Example #3 - Real Estate

  • Performance Gap (problem) = People are wary of letting real estate agents sell their homes because they don't believe they will aggressively try to sell them fast.
  • Potential USP (solution) = Our 13 Point Power Marketing Plan Gets Your House Sold in 30 Days or Less



You can see how a performance gap can lead to a powerful USP.   You can also have local performance gaps that will give you a great USP as well.  For instance, if you are an electronics outlet and you have more inventory than anyone else in town you might your USP could be, We Have 10 Times the Selection than Any Store in Town. Go Visit the Rest, Then Come Shop at the Best.

Your USP Doesn't Have to be Unique
Although a USP is a statement of your uniqueness it doesn't always have to be something that is only unique to you...if you proclaim it first! For instance, if you were a furniture retailer and you proclaimed your USP to be Buy today, we'll deliver it tonight. Most other competitors can do that too, but because you were the first to proclaim it, it is yours exclusively. This is sometimes called preemptive marketing. You can preempt your competitors if you take a strong benefit, whether or not it’s unique, and put your stamp on it first. All others who come after you will just be strengthening an advantage that you have already placed in the minds
of your prospects.

Live Up To Your USP

Be bold when developing your USP but be careful to ensure that you can live up to it. Your USP should have promises, guarantees, policies and procedures, employee evaluations and other reinforcing processes to make each USP come alive. Having a strong USP can make your business super successful; on the other hand, having a USP that you can't live up to is suicide.  I'm sure that Domino's had to eat the cost of a lot of pizzas when they didn't arrive within 30 minutes, but they developed a system that allowed them to deliver on their promise consistently.

Integrate Your USP into Everything You Do
Once you have put some careful thought to your USP and have developed it, you need to integrate it into everything you do.  Your USP should be found somewhere in your headlines, body copy of ads, direct-mail, emails, name cards, websites, signboards, and yellow pages.  You should repeat it clearly and consistently in every one of your marketing communications. 

You should include it in your sales presentation, on the walls of your business and even on your business card.  You can't overdo or wear out your USP, especially if it's powerful.



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