Your unique sales proposition (USP) explains how you solve your customers’ problems by emphasizing the benefits of buying from you.
Another important part of it is to show how you’re different from your competitors.
A slogan is a quick phrase that’s used for branding. It’s a memorable phrase that sticks in the customer’s head. When they hear these words, they think of the company, and vice versa.
The difference between a slogan and a USP is that the slogan doesn’t really convey any information at all. It’s just there to remind the customer, like a logo or an image.
For example, consider McDonalds’ “I’m lovin’ it.” It doesn’t say anything about their food except that it’s tasty. But hopefully, all food is tasty!
“Coke is it” is another good example, along with Nike’s “Just Do It.” Anytime you hear those three words, you automatically think of Nike. It’s very powerful branding. But it doesn’t tell you why you should just do it, or why you should choose Nike.
“A unique sales proposition is a promise you make to your customers. It is communicated through your website content and marketing materials. Think of it as a guideline or vision for your company,” Andrea Hubbert, principal at Hub+company.
While slogans are excellent for branding, a slogan isn’t a USP. Your USP should be short and easily understood like a slogan, but it needs to explain what benefits you offer and why the customer should choose you.
A great way to brainstorm your USP is to take a handful of your favorite companies and reflect on why you love them so much. Make a list of your favorite brands and ask yourself each of the above questions about them. Figure out exactly why it is that you buy from them. The results of this experiment can be quite revealing, and can help you craft your own USP.
For each company on your list ask yourself:
- What specifically are they selling?
- Who is their target audience?
- What is the unique benefit you get from dealing with them?
- What makes them different from others? Or, it might be easier to think of it the other way around – why don’t you go to someone cheaper or who offers more?
- What would make you stop buying from the companies on your list?
Determining what makes you stand out in a crowded market isn’t easy; however, once you reflect on it you’ll have a clearer idea of how to position your offerings. There may be very little difference between what you’re offering and what your closest competition is offering; you may end up discovering that the main different is you.
What you bring to your products and/or services is unique – no one else has. Sit down and write why this makes your products or services better. Are you faster? Do you have demonstrated expertise, with proven results? Do you have a distinct insight no one else has thought of yet?
As you write your unique sales proposition, test it against these five criteria:
- Is it short and to the point?
- Is it memorable?
- Does it make an emotional connection with your market?
- Does it speak to the most urgent needs of your market?
- Does it clearly tell people why you’re different?
By identifying these differences, you’ll come closer to discovering your USP, which oftentimes becomes the business’ tagline. People want to know how you stand out, and why they should buy your products or services. Look at your USP as one sentence that states the reasons – the differentiating factors that will cause them to want your product over another one.
Bottom line: Your USP should set you apart by emphasizing unique features, benefits or qualities. It should speak to a certain segment of the market that no one else speaks to as well as you do. It should offer quality that customers can’t easily find elsewhere.
And, remember, before you settle on your USP, you will need to be able to back it up with proof –whatever you say must be factual.
Someone can always offer a lower price, but what is it that only you can offer? Dig deeper to truly figure out your differentiators. Here are 22 thought starters to help you as you create or refine your unique value proposition and beat the competition!
Andrea Hubbert, principal at Hub+company, is a versatile integrated marketing communications professional with one primary passion: to empower creative individuals and their companies to design and market the business lives of their dreams.