What is a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
The unique selling proposition, or unique selling point (USP), is a marketing concept that refers to any factor or aspect of an object or service that differentiates it from competition and highlights its unique benefits to consumers. A USP answers the question “how is your product better than that of your competitors?”.
Why is a Unique Selling Proposition important?
A clearly articulated USP can be an effective tool to help you shape and focus your marketing goals to successfully set your brand and products apart from your competition. A USP that strives to communicate unique benefits to consumers is often an integral part of a company’s branding strategy that helps it to stay memorable and form a positive impression in the consumer’s eyes.
You know what differentiates your products and business from your competition, but if you don’t communicate that clearly to your prospects through all the marketing collateral you create, it won’t make a difference.
How to develop a strong Unique Selling Proposition?
Remember that a USP is not a tagline, but a good tagline will effectively summarize the full USP in one sentence to make it impactful and digestible.
The purpose of a USP is to answer one question: “Why should a potential customer buy from you?”. A successful unique selling proposition can be just a few words (like a tagline) or a full paragraph, the word count doesn’t matter as long as you capture and clearly articulate the promise to your customers that makes you different and desirable.
Pinpointing your USP starts with extensive market research. The first step to establishing a strong connection with your customers is figuring out what motivates their buying decisions and what they care about. There are many different sales features, such as convenience, quality, friendliness, reliability, cleanliness, customer service, etc., that can influence your customers’ decisions and entice them to come back. Without that knowledge, understanding what matters to your target audience and focusing on it in your marketing materials will be impossible.
You must undertake market research to find out why your current customers are choosing your brand over your competition. If you’re just starting out and don’t have customers that could provide you such insight, research your competitors and look for areas that you could improve and innovate. Having a clear understanding of what makes your company special from the very start will help you grow faster, as more customers will buy from you, and achieve a better brand recall.
USPs are often grouped into the following categories: price, quality, service, speed, selection, convenience, guarantee, customization, originality, and specialization. Pick one that will be at the core of your promise and work from there.
To crystallize and communicate your unique strengths, ask yourself these questions:
- What problem does my product/service solve?
- What do I offer that my competitors don’t?
- How easy is it for my competitors to copy that?
- Can this strength be communicated easily?
Examples of effective USPs
- Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less, or it’s free.”
- Target: “Expect More. Pay Less.”
- DeBeers: “A diamond is forever.”
- TOMS Shoes: “With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One”
- Colgate: “Improve mouth health in two weeks”
- Zappos: “The best return policy ever. A return policy that removes the fear of buying online and buying shoes that might not fit.”
- Dropbox: “Dropbox keeps your files safe, synced, and easy to share. Bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and never lose a file again.”
- Head & Shoulders: “Clinically proven to reduce dandruff.”
- FedEx: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
- M&Ms: “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”