By: Gordon Conner
Some of the most successful businesses in the world have gotten there because of their unique selling proposition. FedEx got there by guaranteeing that packages would arrive overnight. Domino’s Pizza promised pizza in 30 minutes, or less. Burger King said, “Have it your way.”
Businesses need to stand out from the crowd. A USP can do that for them. The USP concept has been around for many years, but it continues to prove itself as a key for all successful business models. The USP can entice prospects to come to you rather than your competitors. It will also help you compete on realistic grounds other than price alone, which helps the bottom line.
I’ll use an example of a dentist that I’m familiar with. He wanted to make his service different and not associated with a service about pain. What did he do? He set up a country club atmosphere and recreated the dental experience in a totally different mold.
He had a $5,000 coffee machine and served 18 different teas on fine bone china on a silver tray. Plus, he masked the medicinal smell with oven baked sugarless muffins. When you walk in, you are greeted by your own personal nurse and taken to your treatment room, which has your name and photo on the door. You can watch a wide variety of DVDs on an overhead TV with headphones. If you experience any pain, just press your personal buzzer.
Defining Your USP
Here’s a way to think about your USP-it’s your special ingredient to keep you from becoming a “me too” company. It grabs attention and makes you truly unique. It’s hard to copy and offers a clear-cut benefit for your customer.
Some USPs just jump out and hit you right between the eyes. The flu fighter, Airborne, for example, tells you that the package was invented by a second-grade schoolteacher, which it was. Who else can make that kind of claim and send that kind of feel-good message that makes it different from any competitors?
Most USPs are a little harder to come up with. For example, if you’re a locksmith, a corporate training company or a mattress store, how will you set yourself apart? Well, here are 7 tips to help you answer that question.
- Scrutinize the competition.Are they better than you? Why? Do they suffer in any areas? Are they lacking something that you offer? How about their market area? How does it compare? Any holes in their geographic areas that might help you define your niche area better?
- What makes you better?Are you the only jewelry store with a designer? Or the only florist that has a writer for personalized messages? Or, maybe a management consultant with experience working with Fortune 100 clients. With these types of claims, your task of developing a unique USP will become much easier.
- If you’re no better, get better. That’s exactly what our dentist friend did. And as things progress, don’t be afraid to change your USP. Some of our website design friends started by offering SEO services as well. Today, they are experts in content management and as such, their USP has also changed.
- What are your consumer’s pain points?If worse come to worse, make a list of all of your customer’s frustrations and develop a USP to solve them. Let’s say you’re a carpet cleaner. To address stains between visits, you might offer an emergency service. Or possibly a special do-it-yourself fabric care kit to solve the temporary problem. And, of course, you’ll build your USP around that service.
- Guarantee it.Again, it’s all about solving the customer’s frustrations. A plumber that we know once drafted a guarantee that promised he would show up within 15 minutes, or the first hour of work was free, and he would leave the house cleaner than he found it. Plus, he would show up in uniforms, with belts. The point was to overcome the perception that plumbers were habitually late, messy and presented rear views that no one wanted to see.
- Be specific.Baskin-Robbins offered 31 flavors and even had the number 31 in the logo. Wonder Bread helped build bodies 12 ways. Maybe your company is on-call 24 hours a day, or you offer 163 different parts, or your gym has 87 machines. Tell everyone what you got.
- Don’t claim it if you can’t do it.Our plumbing friend equipped his employees with booties, handheld vacuums and belted uniforms just to make good on his guarantee. Just be sure you can deliver what you promise.
When you have your USP all figured out, then condense it to as few words as possible, develop an awesome tagline and spread the word in every touchpoint you have-from letterhead, marketing materials, signs, website, sales calls, you name it.
Consider this: What makes you choose one builder, plumber, jeweler or department store over others? More than likely, it’s how they have defined their USP and how they have presented it in the marketplace. So pay attention! If you do, you’ll be seen and heard and the results will show up on your bottom line.
About the Author
Gordon Conner is a Branding Consultant/Coach and Copywriter who helps clients become Category of One companies. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 39 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or www.BranWorks.com.