Your USP: The Make-Break Point
Your USP (Universal Selling Proposition) will make or
break your business. Let me put this differently. With a
great USP, success is nearly assured. Without one, you will
be at best, just an also-ran, someone struggling to remain
in the race.
You need a USP for the business itself, and one for each
product being sold. If you are selling products produced by
others, the sales literature available may already include a
great USP. If it does not, however, one needs to be created.
There is lots of debate about what a great USP is. I
have no intention of seeking to end it. But I must point
out lots of people have it wrong.
Differences Of Opinion About The USP
Some believe it is a statement that explains how your
company or product differs from others. Something that
makes it unique, and thus better.
Since all is about selling benefits, some believe the
USP is a statement about the greatest benefit offered by
your company or product. A benefit that sets you apart
from others. One others can not claim.
I don't agree with either or related views.
To side step debate as possible, let's ignore the
marketing strategies used offline. Let's focus on those
that work online. This allows me to state without
reservation that such positions won't work on a website.
The Key Is To Focus On Behavior
Your visitors don't give a hoot about you, your product,
or how hard you have worked to make it available. The
simple fact is, they don't think about you at all. They
have only one question when they hit your site: What's in
this for me? You have only seconds in which to provide an
Talk of you, your company, or your product, regardless
of uniqueness, will only bring a click on the Back button.
Soul-searched words about the benefits your company or
product offers will also bring immediate exit.
What's required is a USP that provides your Perfect
Customer with a PERCEIVED benefit that sets you apart from
and above others. Note it matters not at all whether this
benefit is your strongest, best, or whatever. It doesn't
even matter if it's so. It only matters that your Perfect
Customer perceives it as such.
Further, to the degree possible, you want your Perfect
Customer to grasp this in a glance, even to shout out loud,
"Hey! This is it. This is what I need!"
USPs And The Big Boys
For examples of great USPs that have proved to be
winners, check out some books on marketing. Here's one:
Coca Cola - The original.
Pepsi has been trying to beat this for some time. And
they have put millions and millions of dollars into the
effort. But Coca Cola remains the first and original cola,
a position that can not be taken from them. (It is unlikely
a new Web Business can establish such a position.)
The story of the ferocious marketing efforts of these
two competitors makes fascinating reading. For example,
Coca Cola has tried a number of alternatives to, "The original." Pepsi seemed to have a winner in, "For the new generation." But they, too, have been experimenting. And
both continue to spend great gobs of money in hopes of
gaining an edge over the other.
Years back, Avis strongly challenged Hertz in car
rentals with, "We're second, so we try harder." This
captures attention. While many cheer the underdog, most go
for the favorite when they reach for their wallet. But this
worked for Avis. That they tried harder implied to many
that Avis would thus make life easier for them.
Over many years this proved to be an extremely effective
position. As in the cola battle, Avis came off this now and
then to an alternative, only to watch sales plummet. They
recovered quickly with a return to this position.
USPs For The Rest Of Us
Whether or not you already have a business, nothing
matters more than discovering a great USP for both your
company and products. Your USP will be your company's
A small business does not have the money to launch large
institutional branding campaigns to popularize a USP.
However, you can be just as effective as the big boys are
in building a great one. Take the time to get this right.
Using Your USP
Incorporate your USP into a small logo and include it
on every page of your site. Include it in some way in every
communication sent out about your company or product,
particularly in sales literature. Use it in a signature
file that is automatically appended to every email message
sent by your company.
No, you're not going to beat Coca Cola this way. But
people will come to associate you and your product with your
USP and logo. While not a megabuck branding campaign, this
can be remarkably effective.
Tag Lines Are Great
A tag line is a three to five word statement that
captures or at least reminds of the essence of your USP.
For Avis, "We try harder" works. Staples gets attention
with, "Yeah, we've got that." This implies they can fulfill
all needs. "The quicker picker upper" suggests Bounty paper
towels to many.
Use your tag line wherever you lack the room to state
your complete USP. Done properly, a tag line tends to add
a aura of superiority, something that can never be claimed
As suggested, a good USP and tag line can mean the
difference between success and failure in a small business.
And in building these, you are on equal footing with the big
boys. So take advantage of this opportunity, and get it
. . .
Abstracted from "Your Path To Success" by Bob McElwain
Your unique selling proposition (USP) is your
proprietary competitive edge. Think of it as
the answer to this question: "Why should I buy from you and not the other guys?"
The following tips by Kevin Donlin, author, Guaranteed Marketing, should help you with the development of your own USP.
Every business must have one to succeed. Most
businesses don't. Not surprisingly, most
businesses fail. Without a USP, you make it
hard for people to choose your business over
Your USP is right under your nose. All you
have to do is take the time to look around
your business and find it.
How to Create a USP
Here are four traits about your business you
can look at to help you create a unique
selling proposition (USP):
- Price. Do you offer the lowest price in
your industry? Although it's almost always a
bad idea to compete on price, this may work
for some businesses. Perhaps you have the
HIGHEST price, like L'Oreal hair color?
- Convenience. Is it easier to buy from you
than from your competitors? Are you open for
business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year? Do
you deliver free?
- Service. Will you make the purchase worry
free by coming out to fix or repair products
at no charge? In the middle of the night? 100
miles away? Do you service all brands?
- -EST. Are you the oldEST, fastEST, largEST,
hippEST or funnEST in your industry? Everyone
loves to find the ultimate in anything. That's
why the Guinness Book of World Records is a
perennial best seller. Can this help your
business stand out?
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