A Unique Selling Proposition or USP is a statement that defines the uniqueness of your business and its products/services. In other words, a USP states why your target audience should choose you over the competition.
Lack of uniqueness has become a major problem in the business industry. Just think about it, out of all the pharmacies, grocery stores, and hardware stores out there, how many of them are actually unique? Very few. Others do and sell the same stuff as their competitors.
Discovering the USP of your business may not be as easy as it sounds. With so many businesses in almost every market, you may even think coming up with something that sets your business apart from others is impossible.
Actually, it’s not that hard. You just need some creativity. A good way to start is to analyze your competitors and see what their Unique Selling Propositions are.
Carefully observe their ads and marketing strategies to understand what they are focusing on when marketing their products/services.
Don’t try to make your business known for everything. Pick one thing your business does better its competitors and make that your unique selling proposition.
Then your business will be known only for that particular benefit and not for everything.
e.g: Starbucks is known for their premium coffee beverages. But are they known for their low prices as well? No. They know it’s impossible to maintain the quality of their coffee beverages while selling them for low prices. This is Starbuck’s USP.
Businesses that attempt to be known for everything often end up being known for nothing.
Knowing exactly what’s unique about your business will help you target your sales more efficiently and accurately.
Let’s take two companies as examples. Company #1 offers consultancy, social media marketing, SEO, SEM, and PPC while company #2 only offers SEO services and they are well known for that.
Let’s assume you own a blog and you want to hire an SEO company to boost organic traffic to your site. Let’s also assume you know about both these companies.
Now which company would you hire to get the job done? Obviously it should be company #2 because SEO is their specialty. The more fields your business focus on, the less seriously customers will take you.
However, there are some exceptions as well. Large companies may focus on providing multiple services if they have sufficient resources such as employees, and funds.
They may have that luxury but you don’t. So it’s better to focus on providing one specific service and do it better than your competition.
In addition, customers may be tempted to turn towards your competition if they don’t know how your new business is any different from other businesses in the market.
So it’s your job to let them know about what makes your business stand out from the rest and why your business deserves their time, money and trust.
A big mistake most first-time entrepreneurs make is falling in love with their own products/services and ignoring the needs and wants of the customers.
Your business should satisfy customers’ needs and wants, not yours. So step back and look at your business from a customer’s point of view and not from an owner’s point of view. Ask yourself “If I am a customer, what would I like and dislike about this business?”.
Let’s say that you own a pizza restaurant. Is it the only pizza restaurant around? most probably, not. So why should people choose your pizza restaurant over older, bigger pizza restaurants nearby? And what will make them come back again and again?
They are not only coming to eat pizza. They also expect quality, convenience, reliability, friendliness, cleanliness, courtesy and customer service.
If one of your competitors claim to offer pizzas at the “lowest prices”, you should focus on something else such as delivery or quality.
When your business starts to grow, you will be able to ask customers what they think about your business and its products/services.
Get to know why they chose your business over the competition and ask them to rate the importance of the services you offer including taste, size, ingredients, atmosphere and customer support.
You will be surprised to see how brutally honest people can be. So this is a good chance for you to identify the weak-points of your business.
If your business is new, you won’t have much customers to ask from so an alternate is to spy on your competitors. You can disguise as a normal customer and visit competitors to see what and how they are selling.
If you are really brave, you can take this a step further by asking customers what they liked and disliked about your competitors’ products and services after they leave their premises.
Identify a problem your target audience is facing that your competitors haven’t covered yet and focus on solving it before anyone else does.
Let’s take the pizza restaurant example from above. You know that one of your competitors is offering pizzas at the lowest possible prices but no one has prioritized on delivery yet.
Seize this opportunity to make your business stand out by providing better delivery services than others.
What if another pizza restaurant focuses on delivery as well? Your business will loose its purpose and there won’t be anything to stop your target audience from leaning towards your competition, unless your delivery services are better.
Instead of trying to change your USP entirely, you could still maintain the competitive edge by adding some perks.
For example, a competitor may offer fast delivery but may not offer the facility to pay via cards on delivery (only cash). You can cover that to make sure you still stand out.
This is the part where you form a concise statement about your USP. Remember that a USP is essentially a promise or pledge made to your customers so make sure the statement reflects it clearly.
The pizza restaurant for example may need a USP that says “Eat more, wait less!”. Customers will surely remember what you stand out for and will spread word about you based on that.
Your work is not done yet. Before finalizing your USP, it’s a good idea to run it through the executive staff, or even create a focus group to determine the impact it makes to your potential customers.
You probably won’t land on the perfect USP in the first try itself but as you keep brainstorming, you will eventually get it.
Keep in mind, it’s not about having a unique product or service, it’s about making your product or service stand out even in a market filled with similar businesses as yours.
Your Unique Selling Proposition should be strong enough to attract new customers. If no one cares about what your business does best, your USP would have no purpose.