Every day we are bombarded with blogs, new products and social media messaging about marketing tips, what clothes to buy, decorating ideas, etc. What breaks through all the clutter and gets your attention? In marketing-speak we call it a USP. Before you think it is some disease, let me clarify: it is your Unique Selling Proposition. A USP is what differentiates you from others that sell similar or the same product.
Definition of a Unique Selling Proposition: 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.
Unless you can pinpoint what makes your product, service or business unique in a world of homogenous competitors, you cannot target your sales efforts successfully. Can you identify your USP? Generally speaking, business owners find it difficult to identify their USP when asked. With a little soul searching and creative thinking, you should be able to pinpoint your key selling points.
Take these steps to help identify your USP:
Observe Your Competition
One of the best ways to learn about how you are different from your competitors is to write down the words they us to describe their products, services or business. Do they specialize in one particular area of service offerings? Is it the shopping experience they represent? Do they use history to sell their product? Knowing what words are used to describe their product or service is key. If your competition is everyone who sells wedding gifts, then look who is in your market and make sure you are doing something different, better and distinguishable. You might even want to visit their place of business and websites.
Identify Your Target Market
Do you really know who your target market is? Go beyond the typical demographics of age, gender, race, income and geographic location to understand their psychographics. What motivates them to buy? Narrowing your focus and identifying what they read and where else they shop are keys to developing a strong and distinguishable USP. Look at your social media analytics to see whom you are attracting.
Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes
A key mistake many entrepreneurs make is falling in love with a product or service and forgetting that they must satisfy the customer’s needs, not their own. Step back from your daily operations and scrutinize what your customers really want. What problem is your product or service solving for them? If you are a gift store, what will make your customer come back again and again and again? The answer might be the quality of your products, specialized gift-wrapping, or concierge customer service. An easy way to do this is to ask your customers why they shop with you. This feedback is key. What we think is a differentiator might be different than what your customers think.
List the Benefits Your Product Has Over the Competition
Now that you are armed with the above information, write down what advantages you have over your competition. Clear your mind of any preconceived ideas about your product or service and be brutally honest. This can be difficult. You can use a focus group approach with your sales associates and/or staff. Maybe invite a few of your best customers to join you for lunch to discuss. Evaluating what features jump out that that set your apart will get you closer to a dynamic USP.
Write It In A Paragraph
Take all you have learned and, first, write it in a paragraph. Does this paragraph:
- Clearly make a proposition to your customer that is not just words, or product puffery or advertising speak? It must say to your customer “buy this product or service for this specific benefit.”
- Offer a unique proposition that your competitor cannot or does not offer?
- Motivate both new and repeat customers with a strong value proposition?
Cut the USP Down to a Customer-Motivating Sentence
Here is one you will all remember: M&M’s. “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” In 1954 M&Ms used, a patented hard sugar coating that kept chocolate from melting in ones hands, thus inventing a chocolate soldiers could carry. No other brand had that ability.
Remembering Why You’re In Business
Most of us are not solving the world’s problems with what we do but you wouldn’t be in business if you did not think you could provide a unique product or service to your client base. You will be able to hone your marketing messaging once you discover your true Unique Selling Proposition (USP).