At the core of every successful business is a value proposition. Also called the USP (unique selling proposition), this little bit of verbiage forms the entire reason for a company’s existence.
Consider, for example, some of the world’s most notable brands. While you may not be able to quote their unique selling proposition, you nonetheless know what that company uniquely provides.
- Starbucks is committed to creating high-quality beverages that a customer loves. Here’s a statement of their USP: “Love your beverage or let us know. We’ll always make it right.”
- Apple is known for their versatile, functional, and innovative technology tools like the iPhone and iPad. With their proprietary operating system, high price point, and integrated medley of devices, Apple has a unique status in the market.
- “10 Things” manifesto: “Focus on the user and all else will follow. Today’s Google’s position as the premier method of searching for information is unparalleled.
A unique selling proposition makes a company go. When you develop and focus on your unique selling proposition, you are starting the engine for business success.
A USP allows you to focus on the one thing that you love to do, that you do well, and that your customers truly want.
Does a business need a unique selling proposition?
The answer is an absolute yes.
Only 69% of B2B businesses today have an established value proposition. For some reason, many companies disregard the critical nature and valuable opportunity provided by a unique selling proposition.
A weak or nonexistent USP can ruin conversion rates, sales, and all the other good things that marketers crave. A clear, strong, and customer-focused USP will do just the opposite — boost conversions, create a fanatic tribe, and satisfy customers to the core.
If you want business success, then you’re going to need to develop a USP.
A step-by-step method to creating a USP.
Creating a USP isn’t difficult. You simply need to take the time to do it.
- Figure out exactly what your customer wants. This is the selling part of the unique selling proposition. In order to know what your customer wants, you must first identify who your customer is. Do some market research. Create a target persona. Identify the customer’s psychographics. Learn what it is your customer craves. You must conduct this first step in combination with the second step. Your customer’s wants and your business’s unique product meet at an important point — the value that you offer.
- Identify what makes you unique. What makes your business unique? It’s not going to be your logo, your name, or your website. It’s going to be something deeper — the method, quality, or substance of your product. Your ultimate deliverable must have some unique quality or it will fail to gain traction in a competitive market. If nothing unique instantly comes to mind, then you probably have some work to do on your business. If you can’t identify the unique value in your business, then how will your customers? A USP is something specific. “Great coffee!” doesn’t cut it. Neither does “the best coffee you’ve ever tasted.” The unique selling proposition needs to meet the customer’s desires, while also identifying your business as the sole provider meeting this need. “We serve you the highest-quality lattes in record time…with a smile!” This gets more detailed: Lattes. Fast. From friendly people.
- State this unique trait in a customer-focused way. Bring the customer’s want and your unique trait together in a single statement. Don’t stress over grammatical perfection. Simply get the sense of the statement right.
Remember, the USP isn’t something that you need to publish on your blog, post on your main page, or write a press release about.
It is, rather, a force — something that powers the way you do business. While you probably will state it in many places and by many methods, a USP is something that is simply lived out in the way you do business.
Examples of USPs
Here are some well known USPs.
- InfusionSoft: Small business sales and marketing software. Get organized. Grow sales. Save time.
- Enterprise: Pick Enterprise. We’ll Pick You Up.
- Target: Expect More. Pay Less.
- Geico: 15 Minutes Could Save You 15 Percent or More on Car Insurance.
- Stripe: Payment infrastructure for the internet. Whenever you’re building a marketplace, mobile app, online storefront, or subscription service, Stripe has the features you need.”
- Shopify: Shopify is everything you need to sell everywhere.
- Domino’s Pizza: You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less, or it’s free.
- NyQuil: The nighttime, coughing, achy, sniffling, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine.
- TOMS: With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One.”
- KISSmetrics: KISSmetrics gives you the insights you need to optimize your marketing.”
- SoundCloud: Hear the world’s sounds. Explore trending music and audio.”
- Avis: We’re number two. We try harder.
- Saddleback Leather: They’ll Fight Over it When You’re Dead.
- M&Ms: The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.
Slogan or Selling?
A USP doesn’t have to be your slogan as it is with many of the above examples. The USP isn’t a marketing rally cry. It’s something that functions internally to give you focus and profitability.
I mentioned above that you don’t need to stress over grammatical perfection. A USP doesn’t need to be wordsmithed to the last letter. All you need is a substantive phrase that meets the user’s needs, your essence, and ties it together in a functional statement.
A slogan helps capture attention. A USP helps to sell a product.
What do you do with your USP? You allow it to steer the company.
A USP guides you toward your target audience. At the same time, the USP helps you hone in on the central reason that you exist, thus improving on what you do best.
The USP shows up in the way that you create your PPC ads, design landing pages, write website content, interact with customers, and post on social media.
Of course, your USP can and should evolve over time, becoming stronger, more focused, and even more appealing to the right customer.
What is your experience with developing a USP?
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