You may have heard of the term, Unique Selling Proposition, or maybe you’ve heard of its acronym, USP. Simply put it is how a person or business uniquely distinguishes themselves from the competition. In your online travels as an internet marketer, blogger or entrepreneur you may have seen the term and wondered what it meant. We all need to put our unique stamp on our business and let people know who we are and what makes us the best option for them to do business with. This is our Unique Selling Proposition.
This is something you need to determine for yourself and for your business, but maybe you’re not quite sure how to go about it. More importantly, you might have wondered if it held any importance for your business or you as an owner, or if it was yet another thing that you needed to learn… And once you figure out what your USP is, how do you go about incorporating it into your business?
Here are a few reasons why you need to understand what it is. We will also cover why it is important to your business that you are not only familiar with it but that you create an “Authentic Unique Selling Proposition”.
Your Authentic Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is the unique feature of your products, or the way you offer your service—the “thing”—that genuinely makes you different, and sets you apart from others in your industry. If you have not determined what your Unique Selling Proposition is, then you need to stop everything you’re doing, and take some time, and determine just what it is about you, and what you offer, that distinguishes you from, and maybe even puts you head and shoulders above, your peers and competitors.
Why do I emphasize Authentic Unique Selling Proposition? Because it has to be genuine, you cannot copy or fake your USP, it has to be something that you can replicate and “sell” to your potential clients and customers every single time. It is your unique way of presenting and offering what you do.
There are thousands or maybe even millions of other people out there attempting to offer the same exact thing you offer, what makes you and yours stand out? Why should I shop with you, use your services or patronize your establishment rather than the one around the corner that sells the same food and drinks. Why do you go to one hair or nail salon over another? Your Unique selling Proposition is what will make you stand out to some people who will want to buy only from you.
If you are struggling with this step—determining your USP—there are some things you can consider, that might help you. Write down the very specific benefit of your products or services as best you can; customers who are looking for what you have to offer will be drawn to those who can articulate how what they have is as good as, or better than, the competition. The product or service does not have to be unique, it is you and the way you offer it that does
This is not the place to create your mission statement; rather, for your USP, you want to be as specific and as detailed as you can, when it comes to things like quality, guarantee, selection, service, how do you plan to outdo someone who may be offering the exact same product or service. What about you makes it worth coming to you rather than the other guy/gal? Don’t be vague here, be as specific as possible – “the devil is in the details”! The main thing is that you must be able to describe your “Authentic Unique Selling Proposition” in a few brief sentences.
Understanding your USP will automatically begin to dictate how you present yourself to your customers and prospective customers, and will help you to create your unique brand. In general, your USP will fall into one of four categories: Either you will be the price leader in your industry, or you will differentiate yourself by doing something better or different than others, or you will focus on a certain niche, or you will create increased value (also known as Extra Value Proposition).
You want to, as clearly as possible, let your potential customers know why they need to invest their money with you, and you want to continue to make it clear to those who have already invested with you, why they should continue to invest with you. Maybe it is the extra attention you pay to customer service, or the unexpected freebie you gave them, or the personal email you sent to thank them for their business or to wish them a happy birthday. Figure out what you want to do to make yourself memorable.
First, give thought to your passion and purpose; why are you doing what you’re doing? What is your reasoning behind entering the industry? Knowing and being certain of your passion can be particularly valuable to keep in mind, especially when you encounter difficult situations and challenges—and they will come. Perhaps you found your purpose while trying to solve a problem you had in a particular industry.
Second, it’s important for you to know why people buy from you. If they are not customers, then why should they become customers? What do you do that sets you apart from the competition? For the most part, your USP can be categorized in one of several ways. Perhaps you are the price leader, but this is a difficult USP to maintain unless you operate with huge margins, like Walmart. You can differentiate yourself, which simply means that your USP is in delivering your product or service better or different than others.
A third USP category is to focus on a certain niche. Instead of being Walmart and offering everything, maybe you can simply be Aldi and offer a few groceries and related items. Aldi also offers a great price structure and touts that their in store brand contains no artificial colors or additives. This makes them stand out. Many new entrepreneurs fear narrowing down their niche for fear of missing out on sales opportunities. However, casting a wide net means it is harder to cater your message, product and service to your ideal customer. Strategic marketing is far more effective when you have an ideal customer, with specific needs that you know you are uniquely qualified to fulfill.
Finally, you can provide more value than the competition. Give extra freebies that customers do not get from your competition. Maybe you bundle your services or products and make the price lower than the competition. You could be known for giving everything in one deal rather than offering one good deal and then nickle and dimming people for the rest of the good stuff… There are many ways to distinguish yourself from the competition, you just have to find the way that feels genuine to you and how you want to operate your business.
Another thought in regards to determining your USP is to think about where you shop, and why. Do you prefer to walk into a bookstore and browse the shelves and make a selection, or do you prefer to search through titles online, read customer reviews, and get a particular item at a discounted price? Sometimes simply seeing a need, or a void, in the industry, can be a great place to start designing your USP.
Try listing some products or services you could offer, that similar businesses do not offer. Once you have thought through this process, and you have determined your Authentic Unique Selling Proposition, and your business begins to grow, you can begin to consider having multiple USP’s. But in the beginning, it is appropriate to simply focus on one USP and pursue strategies that are in line with it.
After you get a more solid foothold, you’ll be better positioned to consider how to increase the reasons that customers would spend their money with you. This might come along with when you start to add more products and services, or start to sell in new markets. Your Authentic Unique Selling Proposition is something that will grow and change as both you and your business grow and change.