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How to Define Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Sep 27, 2021

Ask yourself this question: What makes your product or service unique?

Paperclips in all different colours like red, blue, pink, green, yellow and striped. One red paperclip is formed into a plane and is flying away from the other paperclips

In a sea of competition, customers are overwhelmed with options. Naturally, you need to differentiate yourself from the competition in order to reach customers successfully. Especially when it comes to eCommerce brands your USP is more important than ever. Why? You’re not only up against local competition but a whole lot more businesses.

Think about it, what distinguishes your business? Why should customers choose your product or service over others?

You probably had a few things come to mind just then. Maybe your product is easy-to-use or has versatile functionality. Maybe it offers your customers . But, simply providing a list of features isn’t enough.

Customers need to understand what makes your product or service different from others – and they need to understand it fast. It can be the difference between being heard or not being heard.

“To be, or not to be.”

William Shakespeare

Defining your USP will help you make better marketing decisions so you don’t get lost among the mass.

What Is a Unique Selling Proposition?

Simply said, your USP is what makes your brand different from the competition. Commonly, it showcases every single feature and benefit of your product or service compared to other products or services in your market.

A strong USP helps to streamline your marketing efforts. While it assists in making better marketing decisions, it also helps you reduce customer churn and retain customers.

At the heart of any USP, it should answer the one question that burns in every customer’s mind when they come across your brand:

“What sets you apart from other brands?”

Keep in mind that being different or unique isn’t a strong enough USP. You need to dig deeper than that. Identify what value you can offer and when you do that, think about what your customers really want.

Here is what a captivating USP should look like:

Note with Unique Selling Proposition written on it sitting on top of brown notepad and laptop. Next to it there is a yellow cup of black coffee and black pen
  • Confident and concise – your USP should specify what leverages your brand from competitors in a memorable way. Time to shine!
  • Most wanted values – what do your customers truly care about? Can you offer value to those desires?
  • Consider every aspect of your brand – a strong USP can be communicated in many ways and so you should. A slogan can carry on the message of your USP effectively, but so can your website, social media, email newsletters and even your shipping & return policies

Sometimes it is more important how you sell it instead of what. Communication is key.

3 Unique Selling Propositions Done Right

Let’s look at some famous businesses that certainly know how to sell their brand. Just to give you a taste of what works well.

Toyota: A Quality Car for Everyone With 5-Year Guarantee and Over 290 Service Centres Across Australia

What comes to mind when you think about Toyota? Oh, what a feeling. Yes, their slogan is pretty strong and well remembered, isn’t it?

But the thing that they do even better is that they turned their slogan into the “Toyota feeling” that you get when you interact with the brand.

For example, their 5-year unlimited kilometre guarantee should give you the “Toyota feeling.” The fact they have almost 300 service centres all across the country should leave you with the “Toyota feeling”. And not to forget their wide range of cars to offer something for everyone.

Snapshot of Toyota Australia homepage showing the all-new Kluger
Source: Toyota

Their USP is succinct and cohesively conveyed across all communication channels, making it easy for customers to distinguish Toyota every single time.

Nourished Life: Trusted Vegan, Cruelty-Free And Sustainable Products

Vegan hair and body products aren’t something new. More and more businesses have decided to focus on vegan and cruelty-free offerings. But, what distinguishes Nourished Life* from other vegan brands is their enormous product range (more than 7,000 products) and almost 300,000 reviews.

Snapshot of Nourished Life website showing specifications of their products
Source: Nourished Life

More than that, they offer zero waste options for any product and also have an ingredient policy available on their website stating not only the natural ingredients they use, but also what nasty ingredients they don’t use – clever!

Their USP is visible across all their communication channels, making it easy for the customer to constantly see what makes Nourished Life unique.

McDonalds: Affordable Fast-Food and Much More

Safe to say that everyone would recognise the big bright yellow M. Right? Being present in over 100 countries, McDonalds isn’t the world’s largest fast-food chain for no reason.

What sets McDonalds apart from other fast-food chains is their perpetual commitment to innovation. For example, they were one of the first fast-food businesses to offer barista made coffee. They are also involved in the local community, fundraisers and education programs.

Snapshot of McDonalds homepage showing a coffee made by McCafé
Source: McDonalds

McDonalds thinks ahead of its competitors, constantly finding ways to make things better. Above all, it is always clear what they are doing, how and why. And that’s why their USP works so well.

Now, let’s get started on your USP!

Defining Your USP

This 5-step guide will help you figure out the USP for your business. By the end of reading this, you will have a clear idea of how to create a strong USP.

Step 1: Put Your Heads Together

Setting up a USP is not a solo task. It requires team effort. Arrange a brainstorming session with people from all departments. It’s important to include people from different departments as this will help get more ideas generated.

Get together and start bouncing off ideas of what sets your business apart from others. Ask your team not to use the word ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘better’ or ‘worse’ – trust me on this! It will avoid getting responses such as ‘our service is better’ or ‘their service is worse’, because these responses are not very helpful.

Note down all ideas, because we will revisit them soon in another step. Now we will look into your 3Cs: Customers, Competitors, Company.

Step 2: Customers – Understand, Segment and Target

The era of mass-marketing is long over. Advertising your offerings to the whole world simply doesn’t work anymore. Why? All customers have different needs, desires, wants and motivations.

“Customer heterogeneity: All customers differ.”

This is something that businesses still to this day easily misunderstand. You really need to segment your customers into groups of similar characteristics and then choose the most viable one to target.

When it comes to choosing your target audience you want to get very specific. Try to create detailed buyer personas and even a customer journey to see where your customer’s touchpoints are.

Learn more about customer segmentation and download your free customer journey map template.

Step 3: Competitors – Identify and Research

Before identifying your unique selling points, you need to know what is already being offered to your target audience. Whether you like research or not, this is an important step that will later assist in identifying your uniqueness.

Start to list your direct as well as indirect competitors. Direct competitors are businesses that offer similar products/services to the same target market. Indirect competitors are businesses that offer different products/services, but to the same target market.

Once you’ve created a list of all competitors it’s time to start digging. What do they do differently? How do you communicate with their audience? What types of communication do they use? Do they offer any additional services?

Step 4: Company – Understand and Analyse

Now that you know who your customers and competitors are it’s all about your business. In this step you identify the strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats of your company. This is also called a SWOT analysis.

When identifying your strengths and weaknesses you are analysing the internal environment of your company. Do you have flexible payment options? Is your price cheaper? Are your delivery times faster? Is your customer service more advanced?

With your opportunities and threats you are looking at the external environment. Are there political or economic influences that might affect your operations? What industry trends are there? Are there any global goals your company can be a part of?

Step 5: Define Your USP

The final step in defining your USP is, well, to actually define your USP. This is where you grab the notes you took in Step 1 along with the data gathered in all other steps and start putting together what makes you different.

Think about what’s something that your customers want, none of your competitors do (or badly) and what your company can offer. Here you go, that’s your USP.

Now all you have to make sure is that your USP is effectively communicated to your customers. Create a memorable, catchy and concise slogan that conveys your message in a clear and distinct manner. Et voila!

Don’t have the time or resources? You’re not alone! Let us help you create a killer USP for your business.

Contact us for a free marketing consultation now.

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