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Your Point of Difference Makes Your Business Unique - Do You Know Yours?

Every business has at least one Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Do you know the Unique Selling Proposition for your business?

The USP as a marketing concept has been popular for several years.. Its essence is how you, as a business owner “propose” to “position” yourself against your most direct competitors and is geared around a couple questions: 

What elements of your business are superior to your competition?

What do you deliver with your product or service they do not?

If your product or service is in such high demand and/or is a staple of everyday life, yes, your business could survive and even thrive without any appreciable differentiation from your competitors  however this would also mean that you have completely lost control of your business.  Your fate is entirely dependent on the whims of your customers, this  is a position as a business owner, you do not ever wish to be in.

Therefore, properly identifying and then marketing your USP (hopefully more than one), can make the difference between the success and failure of your business.

The good news is that there are a lot of USP’s to choose from, so let’s examine many of the essential ones.

PRODUCT (or SERVICE):

Quality: It’s most important, but also the most difficult to identify and even harder to measure, because, like beauty, it’s truly in the eye of the beholder. Your standard of quality for a given product or service is most likely different than mine, probably is. What your expectations are from your purchase depend on your experience as an individual.

Durability: This crosses over into the same discussion where your expectations for performance are most likely different than min. You may expect a major home appliance to last (say) ten years, I may be content with five years, is one example of this.

Let’s leave these two critical USP’s with this truism,”If your customers, in their final analysis, believe they have been treated fairly, obtaining sufficient value for their dollars spent, they will return and remain yours, and not your competitors.”

Selection: Do you offer a superior selection (or at least as good) of your product line as your competition? If they offer a given product in economy size, regular size, and super-size, you better serve these needs as well. If they offer all the popular flavors, you need to also.

Features: Sometimes, a consumer chooses one brand of product over another, due to one feature alone. If a  feature is popular, and your product contains it,this can be a powerful advantage. If the competition has this popular feature  and you do not, you’ll lose customers. But remember, a feature is worthless if it can’t be translated into a Consumer Benefit and easily communicated as such.

Operation: Simple. Your product better at least perform to your customer’s satisfaction and hopefully better than your competition.

PRICE:

Low Prices: The advantages of providing a lower price than your competitors for the identical or equivalent product or service are obvious, just ask Walmart! However, the risk is  that your potential customer may subscribe to the adage, “You get what you pay for”, and infer your offering is somehow inferior.

High Prices: There’s nothing wrong with being the “high priced spread” if you’re offering something extra. Many consumers buying a product genre for the first time, without a specific brand in mind, will spend the extra money, feeling it must be better somehow. If satisfied, they’ll become repeat customers. If not, next time they’ll opt for the lower price alternative.

“Goldilocks” Prices: Especially in our world of on-line shopping constantly increasing at a rapid rate, there’s growing sentiment among business owners to price their goods and services in the sweet spot, known in marketing lingo as a “Goldilocks” pricing strategy. The Goldilocks pricing principle  says that low prices infer poor quality, high prices seem to possibly be a “rip-off” and the best strategy is to be in the middle between these two extremes.

Deals and Discounts: Limited time (or permanent) discounts, Buy One, Get One (BOGO’s) 1 in 10 free, the options are infinite. Include a line item in your cost of goods sold, for this cost. These deals have proven to work for many decades. Your competitors will be using this strategy and you should, too.



Loyalty Programs: Always reward your repeat customer. Always! The major hotel chains and airlines have built their businesses by offering their heavy users with lower rates (or free) products. Create a similar program suited and priced to your situation. And the good news is, your customers have to give you their money time and time again, before you ever need to redeem these rewards.

SERVICE:

Knowledge: Customers always expect their questions to be answered promptly and completely. This USP is even more important today, with interaction between buyer and seller often reduced to a voice on the phone or a talking head on a Zoom link.

Expertise: If it’s broken, you better know how to fix it because your competitor will know how to fix it! More often, simple tips, advising a first-time user how best to use and/or enjoy your product, goes a long way to creating a satisfied customer.



After-Sales Service: A professional, helpful, easy to reach and even easier to communicate with, after-sales service operation can be the difference between a one-and done customer and a customer for life.

Demeanor: Customers demand (or should anyway) a pleasant greeting and a smiling face. There are some marketing advisors who swear they can tell by one’s phone voice whether you’re truly happy to speak with them.

CONVENIENCE:

Location: If your business is a brick-and -mortar retailer, important questions include whether  your store is easier to find, park and enter than your competition? If so, make sure your potential customers know about these convenient features.  This is also when you would ask if there are any other measures you’ve taken to ease your customers efforts?

Hours of Operation: Are you open for business when your customers need you to be? Even if you’re an on-line business only, can your customers promptly reach you with questions about your product or service or even if they just need advice?

TRADITION:

Longevity: Firms in the same industry, especially in the same community, invariably tell you  how long they have been in business in their advertising. This means you must be doing something right and also provides a powerful statement to any prospective new customer.

Reputation: Testimonials from satisfied customers can be the most important section of your website or your Google My Business listing. Use this possible USP as much as possible . Remember, longevity simply comes with time and a  reputation that must be earned.

Now that you’re a Unique Selling Proposition expert, clearly review and identify your USP’s. Then review the websites of  your  most direct competitors. Decide not what you think are their USP’s, but what you believe they think are their USP’s. If they are marketing their firms properly, you should be able to easily discern this answer (if you can’t, this is good news for you). Then review your website to see if you’re clearly and powerfully enough, communicating your business strengths and advantages.

About the Author(s)

Joe Whitaker

Joe Whitaker is a retired Marketing Executive, having run Marketing for Mattel Toys, Columbia Pictures and Lorimar Productions. He also acted as an independent marketing consultant for small and mid-size children product and entertainment firms.

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