Unique Selling Proposition – Why every small business must have one
Do you know what your Unique Selling Proposition is? As a small business owner, have you really thought about what sets your business apart from its competitors?
In the crowded, busy and sometimes overwhelming business world, we all need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. When your target customer experiences more than 10,000 marketing messages each day, getting them to notice you and your product or service can be quite a challenge.
The essential first step to getting noticed is to identify what makes your business unique, what sets you apart? Knowing your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is perhaps the most essential part of the marketing process, as it forms the foundation of your marketing strategy.
What exactly is your Unique Selling Proposition?
- It’s something you offer that your competitors don’t offer
- It is your competitive advantage
- It defines your position in the market
- It’s a remarkable benefit that no other company can claim
- It’s the reason why your customers decide to buy from you
Some examples of a USP are:
M&Ms – The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand
Disneyland – The happiest place on earth
Porsche – There is no substitute
Hallmark – When you care enough to send the very best
Subway – Eat Fresh
While these slogans from big business are all relatively simple, each one conveys a message and a brand promise to the audience, which is what motivates the customer to buy. I’ve used examples from big business because they are household names. Think about each one’s message and the connotations it has. The same principles apply to small business.
What is the purpose of your USP?
- The USP differentiates you from your competition
- It can help you formulate your brand message
- It helps you to effectively target your marketing towards the people who want to buy from you
Your USP must be more than a meaningless slogan – it’s the reason you’re in business, it embodies your values and what you deliver – that is, your brand promise. When you tell people your USP, if their reaction is “who cares?”, then you need to go back to the drawing board. Your USP needs to generate interest, intrigue and motivation in your customers.
Once you know what your USP is, you can convey it to your prospective customers. In fact, it should form the foundation of your content marketing, including your website copy and all social media content, advertising and promotions.
You may already know what sets you apart from your competitors. Are you communicating this effectively to your customers?
Identifying your USP
The first thing you need to do is to let go of any assumptions, beliefs or preconceived ideas you have about your USP, and ask your customers. Identifying your USP from your customer’s perspective allows you to confirm exactly what they want, need and desire – and how that links into your product or service.
Ask your customers what’s important to them. Is it a quality product or a cheap price? Great customer service or fast self-service? A product which fixes their issue long term or a cheaper quick fix? Ask them what motivates their buying decisions, what outcome are they looking for? What features or benefits do they seek out? Why do they buy from you?
Take the feedback your customers provide and write a list of all the reasons people buy from you. Once you have the list, try to narrow it down to say, 3 potential factors, then choose the one which you feel is the biggest factor in motivating people to buy from you. Now you have your USP.
Why you need to know your Unique Selling Proposition
The major advantage of defining and using your USP in your marketing is that it allows you to compete on your own strengths and avoid the price war.
Too many small businesses default to competing in a price war, with their competitive advantage based on being the cheapest. While this may win business in the short term, competing based solely on price may not be a good business strategy in the long term. If you keep trying to outdo your competitor’s prices, all you’re doing is lowering your profitability (and theirs!). Price wars are often called “The race to the bottom”. This refers to the race to have the lowest prices, where “winning” is not necessarily in the best interests of your bottom line or the growth of your business. Of course, this does depend on your target market.
There are plenty of other ways for your business to stand out, such as delivery time, customer service, longevity of the product, convenience, and so on. Particularly if you’re competing against big businesses, you’ll never win if you base your strategy solely on cheap prices – their buying power will outstrip yours every time. Highlighting your Unique Selling Proposition allows you to market your business in a much more sustainable way.
Identifying and using your Unique Selling Proposition as an integral part of your marketing strategy is an important step if you want to run a profitable business, now and in the years to come.
Hopefully, the above information has provided some tips you can use to understand the importance of a Unique Selling Proposition. Have you already identified your USP? Have you seen an example of an outstanding USP? Please leave your comments in the box below, thank you.
Hi, I’m Lyndall Guinery-Smith, The Professional Writer. I love to write copy dedicated to attracting and engaging your customers – and improving your bottom line. I happily work with clients all around Australia. Email me to arrange an obligation-free discussion about your latest project.