My former marketing professor couldn’t stop pointing out how important it was for a company to have a unique selling proposition (also: unique selling point, USP) if that company wanted to succeed in the nowadays market. I could swear I heard him mentioning the marketing concept of having an USP at least once a week, accompanied by a long explanation that included some of the wisest chosen USP’s and how they helped their companies to succeed. By the way, I nearly forgot to explain what a “Unique Selling Proposition” is… So here we go: A Unique Selling Point is a feature or a characteristic of a product that makes it stand out of the masses and allows the product to look more exclusive/valuable to the customer. The unique selling proposition is often the crucial factor why a customer bought a specific product from a specific company (A), rather than a comparable product with similar features of another company (B). Simple put: the USP’s are the unique benefits a product offers its purchasers.
If there is a truly successful company, chances are high that this company also has a very valuable unique selling proposition to offer to its customers.
- Google’s USP lies in providing me exactly the information I was searching for, without having to seek through thousands of sites to find the quality information I was searching for or having to pay for that kind of service.
- FedEx’s USP was a mere pioneer when introduced, and many remember their slogan: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”, which allowed them to dominate the package shipping market from this point onwards.
- Another great unique selling point was being introduced by M&M’s; “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand”, which was created by Rosser Reeves.
Nevertheless, this blog is all about personal development, so you might wonder yourself why I’m writing about the importance of having an USP, especially if you aren’t working in the marketing department of a company or do not have an own business to promote. Well, the Unique Selling Proposition is not just a marketing concept that is limited to the corporate world and shouldn’t be underrated as “advertising concept for companies”.
What makes you unique?
What is the USP of your character? What makes you stand out of the masses as a person? What is it that makes you special?
The Unique Selling Proposition was proposed as a marketing concept and therefore focuses on the communication of unique characteristics of a product towards the potential customers. Something, that I find even more important than just formulating and communicating a unique selling point (“Melt’s in your hands, not in your fingers”, M&M’s) is it to actually lay the foundations towards a successful unique selling proposition with one’s services and products. There is still a big difference between just communicating and marketing unique selling points to customers and creating products that are really offering an additional value to its customers.
Apple for example never marketed their USP “We provide a lifestyle with our products” or communicated this USP with expensive advertisements; instead they provided the unique selling proposition with their products (iPod, iPhone, iPad), that really spoke for themselves and offered unique characteristics that similar and comparable products of competitors (if existent) did not offer at the time of market introduction. The only time Apple communicated a company motto (which was just remotely an USP) was in 1997 for Apple Computers with their ad campaign “Think Different”.
How to Create your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
You & Your Business
#1 What’s your uniqueness?
Ask yourself what it is that makes you unique and write down all the characteristics of your person and/or your business that make you stand out of the mass for potential customers. This very first point is an essential key point that – if chosen correctly – allows you to differentiate your brand and its products from the rest of your competitors. Something that shouldn’t be underestimated; especially when thinking about the Apple who created a unique selling proposition with their iPod that none of the competitors on the market could provide and caused a hype for MP3 players. Your USP is what separates you from the rest of the competition and shows your customers exactly why your product offers unique advantages that others don’t.
Write down everything that you have in mind, even if it is “just” the fact that you can provide your services 24 hours a day; which can be an outstanding USP in many businesses and niches (think about “24-hours-emergency” plumbers). Make sure to note everything that is special or even so unusual that none of your competitors can offer it.
Great, at this point you should have written down the main characteristics that make you and your business/services unique in the current situation. Excellent, as this is the foundation from where we will continue improving the details and let them become even more unique.
From this point on, we do not focus on your person, your business, and your services, but we start focusing on the most important factor – your potential customers.
#2 Providing THE solution
An important key factor for business success is whether you are able to spot and identify problems that have burdened people for years, ages or even centuries and to provide THE solution for these problems to your potential customers. The marketers amongst us call this the ability to identify an industry’s “pain point” and to resolve it with one’s services and products, but I rather prefer to simply call it “providing the solution” for specific problems.
Try to think about your customers and what kinds of unfulfilled needs your customers or the whole industry is currently having, and write them down if they are closely related to the benefits your services and products have to offer.
Netflix, for instance, solved the inconveniences of being charged late fees after returning movies too late to one’s movie rental store, by simply switching from the industry-standard method of payment (individual fees per movie & per day) to a subscription with monthly fees, which allowed Netflix to allow its customers to rent as many movies as they want and return whenever they were done with them. Providing THE solution at its best. Netflix concept worked out wildly successful as there was a huge demand in the market for someone who could offer a solution to the rather annoying renting process of movies.
Find out the problems your potential customers could face and try to estimate what exactly frustrates them. Once you know exactly what kinds of “pain points” in your industry exist you can start improving the unique characteristics of your products and services to be the solution for these needs.
#3 Formulation of the USP
A powerful USP consists of only one sentence but delivers a message that could fill many pages. The 3rd step in creating an USP consists of the formulation and phrasing of it. An effective way to find a great USP is to write down several sentences that all describe unique selling propositions and to rewrite and shorten these until you have one specific and appealing sentence.
We’re excited to hear what’s your unique selling proposition!