As a retailer, it’s important to be able to differentiate yourself from your competition somehow. You need to be able to stand out from the rest if you want to succeed online, and one of the best ways to do that is by having a unique selling proposition or USP.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at what a USP is, why it’s important for your business to have it, and how you can create a compelling one of your very own.
So, let’s get right to it, shall we?
What is a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
Also known as a unique selling point, a USP is something that makes you, your brand, business, products, or services different from your competition. It tells your customers what’s special about you and why they should choose you instead of your (many) competitors. That’s why it’s vital to get it right.
If you know that you have something to offer that nobody else does (or that no one does as well as you…) in your particular market, that’s your USP. This can be:
- Higher quality
- Lower Prices
- Better customer experience
- Elite customer service
- Technological innovation
- …the list goes on
If you cannot identify what your unique selling point is, you will have an extremely difficult time trying to convince prospective customers to do business with you instead of one of your competitors.
Why do Online Businesses Need a USP?
The biggest reason why your business needs a USP has to do with the fact that your audience is bombarded with countless messages every day. They can’t re-evaluate products and services each time they want to buy something.
So, to make like easier for themselves, they organize things into groups and then position them accordingly. For example, if someone was thinking of buying a car, they might group them as:
- Best value car
- Safest car
- Most expensive car
- Fastest car
- …and so on
Having a strong selling point that you communicate well to your customers will help them quickly understand what you offer, and why they need to choose your business over your competition. Listed below are some of the benefits that come with creating a compelling selling proposition for your business.
Benefits of Having a USP
In addition to differentiating you from your competitors, a well-developed selling point will enhance your marketing strategy and give you clarity on the type of content to develop for all your online marketing efforts. Some of the advantages of having a good USP include:
1. A Clear Benefit
If your product’s benefit is well-defined by your USP, it conditions your audience to appreciate the product for that specific aspect.
For instance, Domino’s pizza addressed the problem of mom and dad getting home late from work to hungry kids who didn’t want to wait for their meal (the parents are too tired to cook, anyway…) by offering a fresh hot pizza, and a promise that it would be delivered in less than half an hour or else it’s free!
That’s a very clear benefit. Yours could be anything that relates to your business, such as ‘24/7 support’, or ‘the shortest response time in the industry’, or whatever else makes sense for you.
Once you give your market a clear reason to buy your products, you can rest assured that your revenue will improve. A strong product identity combined with its intrinsic benefits, offered at a competitive price will help you to cement your position in the market, and make your customers want to keep buying your product.
3. Loyal Market
A significant USP will clearly communicate to your market exactly where they stand (as far as your business is concerned). The last thing you want is for your product to become an option among tons of other brands. A powerful USP will help you to corner the specific market segment that wants and needs exactly what you’re offering, and this increases their brand loyalty.
4. Streamlined Marketing Strategy
Generic sales campaigns are hit-or-miss because of the difficulty in highlighting product strengths. A great USP helps to streamline your strategy and allows you to easily communicate the benefits of your products to your market in the way that you want them to perceive your product.
How to Craft your USP
In order to find your USP, you first need to have a firm understanding of your industry, your competition, and your target market.
1. Understand your Audience
The first thing you need to do is gain a deeper understanding as to who your audience is, and why they buy the products or services you’re selling.
What needs of theirs are met by those things? In other words, is your audience looking for expertise, a reliable supplier, time-saving, or something else? If you already have a well-developed buyer persona for your business, then this step should be easy.
2. Determine Your Competitive Advantage
Do you know what your competitive advantage is? If not, think of something that your business does really well. You also need to consider what needs your competitors are meeting, and evaluate how well they are doing it.
The reason for this is that just because they currently have a good market position, it doesn’t mean they are delivering fully on their promises. If your business can do better, it gives you a firm basis for entry into the market.
3. Consider Industry Trends
Now, take a look at the needs that are not being met by any of your competitors. You also need to think about the major trends in your industry. For instance, if you’re in e-commerce, these trends could include new selling platforms, new online competition, and so on.
For anyone in the ever-evolving arena of internet marketing, it’s also important to consider issues that will be most vital in a few years’ time. Consider all these things together, and see if there’s a way to extend your advantage to these areas.
4. Test and Refine Your USP
After you’ve completed the steps above, it’s time to test and refine your selling proposition. Use all the information you’ve gathered to come up with a statement that clearly conveys what you’re offering. Make sure that the statement positions your brand the way you want customers to perceive it.
To recap, answer the following questions and turn the answers into one short paragraph:
- What business are you in?
- Who are your target customers?
- What is the most compelling benefit that you offer?
- What differentiates you from your competitors?
- How do you deliver on your promises?
If you’re having trouble coming up with the answers, you can ask a dozen or so of your customers, and you’ll be able to glean some insight that will help you craft the best statement for positioning your business.
Once you have that short paragraph, you need to condense it even more. If possible, get it down to just one sentence that clearly communicates your value proposition.
Your unique selling proposition will drive the development and growth of your business and guide your overall marketing strategy. Whether you’re building a website or creating a logo, running an online ad campaign or posting on social media – your USP will help you to clearly communicate your product’s benefit in whatever activity you’re engaging in. There are many advantages to having a unique selling point. As long as it is done the right way, a business or product’s USP can set a solid foundation for an effective online marketing strategy. A clear selling proposition should be the basic element for your marketing strategy.
Most marketers often overlook it, and that’s why their products go unnoticed in the vast sea of competition no matter how hard they push.
If your product is merely a clone of your competitors’ then customers won’t have a reason to choose yours. They’ll probably just opt for the one with the lowest price. But having a killer USP will make your product shine. It will communicate how much bigger, better, more special, your product is than all the rest – and that makes it much easier to sell.
If you use various media platforms in your digital marketing activities, such as blogs, videos, or social media, then a strong selling proposition will also require the ability to attract and retain the attention of your ideal audience amidst the endless noise online.
You may utilize specialized tactics such as visuals, interactivity, fun storylines, or even a consistent schedule. Basically, anything you can do to ensure that your prospects see and remember what you offer. A well-defined product or service with a clear vision is the backbone of your business’s marketing strategy.
Important Note: While it’s important to keep your USP fresh, it’s not advisable to change it too often. Just remember to keep an eye on shifts in trends as well as competitors who might undermine your USP.
A Good USP Should Have the Following Key Elements:
- It needs to be truly unique
- Positive and compelling enough to grab your market’s interest to get them talking about your product (and ultimately buy it)
- It needs to be hard for others to imitate
- It needs to be clear and easily understood
It’s easy to claim that your product is the best, but if a dozen other businesses can make the same claim, then that’s not going to really make you stand out, is it? Take Domino’s Pizza, for example. They could have just said that their pizza is the best in town, but instead, they chose to go with: Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in less than 30 minutes, or it’s free!
In essence, your unique selling proposition needs to communicate two things to your audience:
1. That your product or service offers superior value and,
2. That the value can only be obtained if they buy from your business
Here are a few examples of great USPs from various industries:
- Federal Express: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight
- Avis: We’re number two. We try harder!
- Real Estate: Our 20-Step Marketing System Sells Your House At Market Value In 45 Days or Less
- DeBeers: Diamonds are forever
- Nyquil: The nighttime, coughing, achy, sniffling, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine
To summarize, here’s a step-by-step guide for creating your USP:
Step 1: Write down what you know about your ideal audience
Step 2: Write down all their needs, and how your product or service meets them
Step 3: Use the potential selling points in step 2 to screen against competitors and industry trends
Step 4: Remove any selling points that your competitors are already meeting well, and look for a gap in your market
Step 5: Match potential USPs that you came up with against what your business is particularly good at, as well as how you want your product to be seen
Step 6: Once you’ve picked out the strongest USP, it’s time to double-check it to determine if it’s unique and memorable, conveys a strong benefit, and if it’s clear who your brand is targeting.
Step 7: Even after you have your perfect USP, it’s important to keep monitoring trends and to keep an eye on new competitors that might affect the way your customers perceive your USP.
The bottom line is that a well-conceptualized USP defines your product and gives your business an edge over the competition. It clearly characterizes what you offer and helps to raise revenue and encourage loyalty from your customers.
You can use your USP as the basis of your digital marketing strategy and to guide all the decisions you make in your business. This traditional marketing concept will be the benchmark by which you evaluate all your activities from blogs and videos to social media and various other digital marketing channels you might use.
Your USP will help you cement your message to your target audience, and that’s why it’s absolutely vital that you get this right in your business.
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