Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is your competitive advantage. It is a compelling and confident promise that you’re making to your target audience – whether that’s higher quality, a highly competitive price, an innovative product or superior customer experience.
A USP has been defined as a confident, compelling promise to your target audience that offers a clearly articulated benefit of how you’re going to impact their lives
From this statement, here’s what is clear about a USP:
- It is a compelling, confident promise to your target audience.
- It offers a clearly articulated benefit of how you’re going to impact the life of your target audience.
- It emphasizes why our consumers should buy from you, rather than from anybody else.
- It is powerful and compelling enough to attract new customers.
The right USP can be a fundamental part of your branding that makes your business memorable. According to research by ama.org
, the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day. This means you need to communicate a strong USP that will help your customers and prospects to quickly understand what your business offers and why they should choose you over the competition.
Here are examples of powerful and compelling USPs:
Fresh, hot pizza to your door in 30 minutes or its free.
This is Domino’s Pizza’s USP. It is a powerful and compelling USP that the company used to dominate a very crowded marketplace, and as you can see, it has all of the characteristics mentioned above. It is packed with benefits because it means that I will be getting something really delicious delivered within 30 minutes. If not, I get it for free. This USP made Domino’s Pizza stand out because their competitors did not have the confidence to make such a bold and confident guarantee.
On the back of that USP, Domino’s Pizza transformed their business to the 2nd largest pizza company in the world. According to Domino’s Pizza, their USP was the main reason they were able to move their share price from $8.76 to over $160.
90-day try out program!
Tempur-Pedic is a company that sells mattresses. Their USP is a 90 day try out program because of the confidence that they have in their product. You buy the mattress, they deliver it and set it up for you. So it means that you have up to 90 days to decide whether you like the mattress and want to keep it. That demonstrates real confidence in their product, and that is what makes it a really powerful USP.
The reality is that we’re always going to be in a competitive situation. There’s always going to be other people that do exactly the same thing that we do. There’s always going to be thousands, sometimes even millions of people who offer the same service that we offer.
For example, in the United States, there are over 3 million registered realtors: how are you going to stand out?
In that situation, you can stand out with a really compelling and emotionally driven USP that connects with the emotions of your target audience.
Branding is all about creating an emotion connection with your potential customers. Purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by emotions and your USP needs to be powerful and engaging enough to connect with the emotions of your target audience.
Let’s look at the process of crafting a powerful USP, step by step.
To create an effective USP, you need to go back to basics:
Consider the following statement: In Business Since 1918
- Take a step back and look at the fundamentals of your business. Start by reviewing your business plan. What goals and objectives are you looking to accomplish as a business?
- Your USP would be more compelling if it is based on a specific problem or challenge that your ideal customer is currently dealing with. It needs to instill confidence.
- What do you know about your target audience and why they buy from the market you’re operating in? What specific problems are they trying to solve when they buy?
Think about this for a moment: is this a USP? Yes or No?
If you’ve answered no, you’re absolutely right. This is not a USP.
And that is because it doesn’t convey any clear benefits to your customers or prospects. Granted, it is a very powerful statement that sends a strong message that the business is a solid, highly successful company.
But that fact by itself is not strong enough to communicate a USP to the target audience. This USP is all about the business, when it really should be all about the customer.
- How does being in business since 1918 add value to the lives of the target audience?
- How is that going to impact their lives or make it better than it currently is?
With this type of USP, there’s nothing to hook prospective customers emotionally. It doesn’t communicate anything particularly meaningful to the audience. It also doesn’t say how the company differ from other businesses that have been in business since 1918 or even longer.
How to Craft a Powerful and Compelling USP
To create a powerful USP, let’s use a real-life example.
Say we are an online training provider and our product is a unique job seeker training manual that is designed to help anyone get their dream job.
Keep in mind that it’s not just for people who are unemployed, but for anyone who is unhappy with their current job. So, our target audience is anyone who is searching for their dream job, including the unemployed as well as employed individuals who, for whatever reason, are feeling unfulfilled or unhappy in their current role.
So, that is our product, and we need to craft a USP for it.
There are 4 key steps to defining a Unique Service Proposition.
Step 1: Define your target audience
The first step is to define your target audience. You’re writing your USP for your target audience, not your product or business. Consequently, it must be specifically designed to appeal to them.
Even if you’re able to come up with a really powerful and awesome USP, if it doesn’t connect with the emotions of your target audience, then it’s going to be worthless. It’s not going to have any real value or impact, because it means nothing to the very people that you’re in business to serve.
Step 2: Get into the heads of your audience
You need to understand everything about your target customers: their goals, problems, dreams, aspirations, pain points and challenges. You want to find out what drives them to make their purchases, and how your offerings fit into this overall picture.
Don’t presume anything about your audience without doing the proper research.
You can start by looking at any data you have on your customers if you have had any sort of interaction with them either directly or through online channels such as social media. You can also conduct more formal email surveys, and look at blogs and social media comments, as well as client testimonials. Eavesdrop on their conversations. Find out what they are saying in subreddits, forums and groups.
It is really important to have a really fundamental understanding of exactly how your business, product or service can solve the problems of your customers or help them achieve their goals.
You then need to frame your USP in such a way that your audience can immediately see how you can help them achieve their goals or solve their problems.
Now, in our example, we understand that the goal of our target audience is to find their dream job, whether they are unemployed or unhappily employed. That is the specific problem that is keeping them up at night – to find a job that they love because they are not happy in their current role.
Step 3: Identify the differentiators
The purpose of this step is to identify what makes your solution better than those offered by your competitors. This is where you emphasize the benefits of your solution and the impact it can have on the lives of your target customers. It needs to be meaningful, compelling and connect with the emotions of your target audience. The value you identify here will be one of the main reasons why your potential customers choose you instead of a competitor.
For our training manual example, the potential differentiator here is that we offer a complete all-in-one solution that guarantees our qualified customers will find their dream job within 30 days or they get their money back.
Step 4: Define your promise
This step combines the most important elements of the previous steps into a concise and powerful statement that embodies the value your company has to offer.
In our example, here’s the USP that we’ve crafted: Your dream job within 30 days guaranteed
. This USP gives a job seeker the confidence to believe that our training manual would bring them a lot closer to their dream job within 30 days.
Now, once we have completed the above exercise, we need to make sure that our USP covers the 4 B’s.
The four B’s are simply words to remind us of the characteristics that the best USPs share.
- Brief. It shouldn’t take you 30 seconds to say. It needs to be clear and concise. One very short sentence. In the above example, our USP is Your Dream Job within 30 Days Guaranteed. It meets this condition perfectly because it is brief.
- Benefit-driven. There’s nothing powerful about a USP that doesn’t contain an emotional benefit. Our USP is emotionally driven because it is designed to appeal to the emotions of our target audience by helping them achieve a specific goal, which is to help them get their dream job. This is the problem that is keeping them up at night. It is all about the customer.
- Believable. For example: “Your Dream Job Within 24 Hours” is brief, unique and is clearly benefit driven. But it’s not believable.
- Based on goals. The USP needs to be based on the goals, aspirations, problems and challenges of your target audience. Our example USP clearly meets this condition, it is aimed at the goals and aspirations of our target audience.
Now, once you have a working USP, it is always a good idea to refine it as you go along. You may not get it right the first time. You need to continually evaluate the impact it has on sales and conversions. You may need to keep revisiting it until you get the perfect USP, but one you get it right, it can be an integral element of your marketing toolbox.
Your USP is what is going to make your brand memorable and unique. It is what is going to differentiate your business and help you stand out from your competitors. It is a promise to your customers that other companies are too afraid to make, which is why it stands out.
Your USP needs to have a strong benefit. Make sure it is simple and easy to understand, and provide proof and customer testimonials to make it more believable.
Finally, it should be based on the goals, problems and pain points of your target audience.
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