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How to Craft a Genius Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Show and Tell on Sep 10, 2021

Business person walking up stairs

If you want your business to stand out from the competition, then a unique selling proposition (USP) is vital. A well-designed USP can attract more customers, enhance your brand reputation and ultimately help to increase revenue.

Here’s the breakdown of what a unique selling proposition is, why it matters, and how you can craft one that will deliver exceptional results.

What is a unique selling proposition?

A unique selling proposition (USP) is the same thing as a unique value proposition (UVP), or unique selling point. Put simply, your USP is the feature of your company, product or service that makes you different from everyone else. It's a powerful tool to communicate the key factors that separate your brand from the competition. It's the reason why your customers should do business with you instead of another company.

Why is a USP important?

It's important to have a USP in your pocket for two basic reasons:

  1. the business world is fiercely competitive, and
  2. consumers usually have multiple options to choose from.

Think of this example: If you wanted to buy a car in the 1920's, what options would you have? Basically one: the Ford Model T. That was the Ford Company's unique selling proposition at the time — they were the only business that produced automobiles!

Now fast-forward to the 2020's. If you want to buy a new car, how many options do you have? There are Fords, Teslas, Hondas, Toyotas, BMWs... the list goes on and on. And they come in a wide range of styles, from heavy-duty trucks, electric vehicles to coupe sports cars. If an automobile manufacturer wants to win your business, they must give you a compelling reason to buy from them (whether that's a lower price, greater horsepower, or more features than their competitors).

In other words, they need a USP.

Similarly, your USP is a vital element in crafting your future growth. No matter how much value your product or service has to offer, you'll never achieve an exceptional return on investment (ROI) unless you can clearly articulate to your consumers why they should buy from you. Whether you're selling cars or air fryers, a clear and concise USP is a powerful way to stand out from the crowd and carve out a lasting impression for your brand.

How can you create an exceptional USP?

Now that we've established the importance of a USP, the next question is: How can you develop a good one? Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

1. Identify your target audience.

It’s important to know who it is you're selling to. Your product or service may offer exceptional value to one consumer segment, while offering limited value to another. You’ll want to identify which group falls into the first category and focus on them.

For example, think about fast food vs. fine dining. What could a fast-food chain's USP be? Perhaps it's how cheap their food is, or how convenient their offerings are for customers on the go. On the other hand, a sit-down restaurant's USP may be its relaxing ambiance or the quality of its food. The two businesses may be in the same industry, but they are selling to vastly different sets of people.

2. Pinpoint what makes your product/service unique.

If you want to develop a unique selling proposition, then you need to understand what makes your product or service... well, unique. What’s the one thing (consumer benefit) you need to tell them? If you're having some trouble coming up with a differentiating feature, why not ask your existing customers for feedback? Why did they choose your company over others? Be sure to get some observations from your employees as well – especially your sales reps. After all, they're the ones on the front lines, closing the deals. Find out what they've found to be effective in their conversations with leads.

Remember, you shouldn't try to highlight  every good feature of your product – just the one that’s apart from the rest. If you try to get recognized for everything, you won't become known for anything.

3. Look at what your competitors are (or aren't) doing.

As you develop your USP, it's crucial you look at competing companies in your market. What are they focusing their marketing efforts on? What weaknesses do they have that you can exploit? The classic Avis tagline: "When you're only No. 2, you try harder," is a perfect example of how to turn a competitor's strength into a weakness. Avis undermined Hertz' position as market leader by implying that their own brand offered better customer service – because they had to.

On the other hand, you also want to look at what your competitors are doing that consumers don't like. As an example, vacuum’s can be a hassle to empty, and you have to buy and swap out the replacement bags. Dyson introduced vacuums that are not only as good or better than their counterparts, but they’re bagless. Brilliant.

4. Consider developing a measurable USP.

You don't have to have a USP that's super specific. But it can help your cause.

For example, FedEx promises that they can deliver "Absolutely, Positively Overnight." That's a very specific USP, and one that can be easily measured. A specific USP like that can reassure your consumers about your ability to deliver on your promise, and enhance your brand reputation – if you can deliver it 100 per cent of the time, that is. If you're unsure about your ability to consistently live up to your USP, then you may need to go another route or soften your stance.

Crafting a genius USP = growing your business

A unique selling proposition provides your customers with a compelling reason to buy from you. It sets you apart from the competition. By carefully examining your target audience, your product or service, and the current state of the market, you can develop an exceptional USP – one that will support business growth for years to come.

If you don’t know where to start, we’re here to help.