Successful businesses typically have a very distinct competitive advantage, a reason why customers choose their products and services over those of a competitor. This is known as a unique selling point (USP). If you’re serious about gaining a significant slice of your market, developing a unique selling point is an essential step.
What is a USP?
A unique selling point (USP) is a competitive advantage your firm has over its competitors. It may be a cheaper manufacturing method that allows you to sell goods at a lower price point, or it may be your fantastic customer service. The concept of a USP was developed by advertising executive Rosser Reeves in the 1960s.
Why is developing a USP important?
Customers need incentivising to buy your products and services; they won’t simply switch away from a competitor, particularly if they are in any way loyal. Established market players often enjoy economies of scale, such as reduced prices from suppliers for bulk orders. Companies new to the market won’t automatically benefit from economies of scale, making it almost impossible to incentivise customers to switch based on price. Developing a USP, or a reason for customers to come to you, is essential if you wish to gain market share from other businesses.
Step 1: find your best qualities
Make a broad list of your best qualities with regard to price, products, services, customer contact and other key business features. You may wish to conduct competitor analysis beforehand so you can ensure your best qualities are relative to the competition; this can help ensure your USP attracts customers in your niche. You may wish to ask the following questions to help you discover your best qualities:
- Is the way you do business your unique selling point? Do you offer extremely good customer service or 24/7 sales lines? Do you always respond to queries within three hours?
- Is your product or service your unique selling point? Perhaps your product solves problems far quicker and efficiently than that of a competitor.
- Are your economies of scale better than those of other market players? If you can offer your products at great prices, customers may be more likely to buy from you.
Step 2: consider your customers
Once you’ve made a list of your best qualities it’s time to see how these qualities help your customers. Your USP should be customer-led; a positive business quality will mean nothing unless you can show how it solves a significant problem faced by your clients. Make a list of the main problems your customers face and the options they have to solve them. The best qualities of your business should help them solve these problems in a more effective way than if they were using competitors’ services.
Step 5: distil your USP
Your USP must be easily communicable in few words. A two page technical brief may well effectively communicate why your business is better than the competition but customers are incredibly unlikely to read it. If you can’t successfully distil your USP down to a sentence that’s usable within a marketing environment then you may need to sit down and have a rethink.
Step 4: utilise your USP
Some businesses make the mistake of creating a USP and then failing to utilise it in the best possible ways. Once you’ve discovered your USP – and it’s as succinct and understandable as it can possibly be – make sure you use it extensively on your promotional materials, including your website. Have confidence in its ability to sell your business and completely integrate it into your business life; you may include it in elevator pitches and on your business card.
Step 5: fulfil your USP
If your USP is a guarantee to respond to all enquiries within three hours, make sure you do so. This is essential. If you fail to deliver on your USP then customers may lose all confidence in your business acumen. Your USP is an important promise that publically extols your company’s effectiveness; if there’s one thing you deliver on then make it your USP. Once you start fulfilling the promises laid out in your USP, start collecting testimonials to use to back up your claims.