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June 22, 2010

What’s Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?

by Steve Tannuzzo

Unique Selling Proposition Tannuzzo Copywriting
What is a USP and Why Do I Need One?

To gain a competitive advantage in marketing your business, experts recommend that you have a unique selling proposition, or USP for short.

A USP is not to be confused with an elevator speech. When people ask about your unique selling proposition, they probably already know what you do. What they don’t know is why they should choose your company over another.

What makes your business unique? What separates you from your competitors? Answer those questions and you’re on your way to creating your USP.

You’ll need to discuss your USP in person at networking events and on sales calls. You’ll also need it prominently featured on your website and in your marketing collateral. What good is handing out an expensive, beautifully designed brochure if there’s nothing in it to persuade a potential client to try your product or service?

5 Steps to Creating Your Unique Selling Proposition
  1. What makes you unique? Sorry, but “great customer service” won’t make the cut. If you insist on identifying your company’s outstanding customer service, you’ll need to back it up with an offer. Remember the classic Domino’s Pizza guarantee of orders delivered within 30 minutes or they’re free? Come up with an offer as enticing as that and you’re onto something.
  2. Does your USP exclude anyone (and can you live with that)? Let’s imagine you’re an experienced website designer and you have a talent for working very quickly. You’ve decided that your USP is this: You can create a magnificent, 30-page website complete with a storefront, photo galleries, blogs, videos, live social media updates and pretty much anything else the customer wants — and you can do it all within two weeks. A client with a large company and plenty of money might find this USP perfect for his or her needs. But what about the “little guys” from the diner down the street? This USP has no appeal for them. They just want a home page with their menu and phone number on it. Can you live without their business? Sometimes identifying your USP can help streamline your target market.
  3. Is your USP easily communicated? A USP should be easy to explain and remember. Think of the old Federal Express tag line, “When it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.” It’s a great slogan, but it’s also a USP. Simply put, FedEx is selling peace of mind to business people worried about the consequences of late-arriving or lost packages. Think about it: FedEx and UPS offer essentially the same reliable service. But if your job depended on it, which company would you choose if you had to get a box of PowerPoint presentations from Boston to Seattle for a lunch meeting the following day? I’d pick FedEx, even though I know it has nothing to do with either delivery service. It’s all about marketing. That’s the magic created by identifying your USP.
  4. Can you create a persuasive message around your USP? You want heads nodding when they hear your USP. If the response is tepid and you feel like people are thinking “so what?” when they hear it, it’s time to revisit your proposition.
  5. Will your USP translate across every marketing avenue? Your USP needs to be successful wherever you advertise. Does it read well in your marketing materials and on your website? Does it sound good in radio and TV ads? Is it compelling enough in face-to-face meetings? Will people click on your Internet ads? If yes, you’ve probably created a USP that will increase your business. If not, continue refining your USP until it works with every form of marketing.

Need help identifying your USP? Contact Steve for a free consultation.