A unique selling proposition (USP) is a well-thought-out statement that helps a company distinguish itself from other businesses in its category. In most instances, companies will focus on a single feature or benefit that solves a problem, satisfies a need, or takes away their customers' pain as their USP. In order to articulate it to their customer base in a memorable way, companies will create taglines or summaries of their USP and insert them into their advertising messages. For example, Coke is "the real thing," Bounty is "the quicker picker-upper," and "You're in good hands with Allstate."
Have you given any consideration as to your company’s USP? What’s the one trait that separates you from your competition? If everything else is equal when trying to decide which product or service to buy, having a dominant USP can mean the difference between winning and losing business.
If you’re having trouble putting together the right USP for your company, below are seven examples of different traits to help you get started. Before you make a final decision, test your USP with some of your clients. Do they agree with your USP? If it misses the mark with them, what will the other customers and clients think? In addition, what are the USPs of your competitors? You don’t want two businesses touting themselves as the most reliable or having the best customer service. It would confuse your customers.
Consider writing your company name along with your three to five biggest competitors on a sheet of paper and ask a dozen customers to write down one to two words that describes each company. Look at the results to see how they view each brand. This will give you a foundation from which you can build your own unique selling proposition.
Seven Potential Traits for Your USP
Easy in, easy out. Customers love how easy it is to buy your product or use your service. In the competitive world of pizza delivery, Domino’s chose to focus on delivering their pizzas in 30 minutes or less.
Your product or service never fails. According to the Bob Seger song, Chevy trucks are all tough “like a rock.”
Your product is luxurious. Your service is top notch. When customers describe your company, they speak in superlatives. BMW considers its cars to be “the ultimate driving machine.”
Superior Customer Service:
You are always there for your customers. You give them peace of mind. They know they can count on you and your staff.
Your product or service inspires people to think outside the box. Apple told customers to “think different” with pictures of brilliant minds such as Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso.
Some companies use humor or reverse psychology as their unique selling proposition. The makers of Charmin tissue created silly commercials that showed a store manager constantly telling his customers “please don’t squeeze the Charmin,” as if the toilet tissue was so soft, people couldn’t help themselves.
Does your product or service spark certain emotions in people? If you made a purchase from De Beers, it’s because you know that “a diamond is forever.” Delta promises that you will “love the way we fly.”
When the world was introduced to social media, there was a fundamental change in how we connect with our customers. Today, there are an infinite number of ways that people access information about products and services they wish to purchase. The challenge for businesses is to maintain a consistent unique selling proposition whether their messages are on television, in print or online. Your objective is to have all your customers using the same few words when describing your brand to other people. My advice: Be consistent in your messaging.
As the founder and CEO of Brian Moran & Associates, Brian helps entrepreneurs run better businesses. He was formerly the executive director at The Wall Street Journal, overseeing the financial and small-business markets across the WSJ franchise. From 2002 to 2010, Brian ran Veracle Media and Moran Media Group, content companies in the SMB market.
A version of this article was originally published on January 30, 2014.