What makes your business different from and better than the competition?
I mean REALLY different… what are you offering that nobody else is?
This is what’s called your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), and putting it down into writing and including it in all of your marketing materials and your website is absolutely vital to attracting business.
Too many businesses make the mistake of spending money on marketing before establishing their USP — and this could be hurting your return on investment (ROI).
So, I made a video for you that explains EVERYTHING you need to know about creating a USP that is actually unique — free of charge!
Finding your business’s USP is half being extremely creative, half being able to critically analyze and look at your product or service from a prospect’s perspective. As a business owner, you do wear a lot of hats, but focusing on your marketing hat will provide what you need to wear all the rest.
You can find (or create) your USP and deliver the message to people through what we marketers call the 4 Ps:
- Product: what characteristics set your product or service apart?
- Place: where can people find your product? How it is distributed to them?
- Price: how is your product or service priced compared to similar offerings?
- Promotion: once you’ve defined what makes your product or service truly unique, how will you inform your target audience about it?
Pinpointing the USP is the crux of developing your marketing strategy. Once you have it nailed down, you can put it at the forefront of all your promotion. Every business does this, from giant corporations to mom and pop shops. Just think of businesses you know…
Walmart? They focus on the price of their products. Their USP, “Save Money. Live Better.” It emphasizes that the money you save with them can be better spent on the things you love.
Postmates? The entire company is built on the distribution (place) of their service. You can get “Anything, Anytime, Anywhere” delivered.
Now, these are large, national companies. The lines between USP and “slogan” are a little blurred because we are so familiar with these brands. For a small business like yours and mine though, our USPs need to be more specific.
Take PostcardMania’s USP — We are the ONLY marketing company that creates your campaign based on the results of over 96,119 customers. You’ve probably seen it sprinkled across our website in various iterations.
Here are a few more USP examples from other smaller companies…
Sure, they’re big now, but Casper was once a small company that changed the game with their USP — a 100-day trial period is now the gold standard for buying any mattress, especially for direct-to-consumer mattress manufacturers that bypass traditional retail outlets. Their USP disrupted and then reshaped an entire industry. Pretty amazing!
Dalton McCrary’s golf lesson guarantee is an excellent example of a small business with a very specific (and very good) USP. If I were in the market for golf lessons, I would definitely choose Dalton over the competition.
The key, when you’re a small business, is to be very specific and truly unique with your USP.
Every small business owner worth their salt will claim to have the best customer service, the best product, etc. The key is to go BEYOND those obvious markers with your USP because you have to go beyond the usual to excel and beat the competition. Your USP just makes it cut and dry in a couple of sentences how you are better.
It can be tough and sometimes you have to create something new in order to create a good USP. I did this in 2005 when my competition started to copy my business model. I needed to set PostcardMania apart (again), so I created a new job role — our Results Manager. This full-time position catalogs successful campaigns and shares what made them successful, in order to help other business owners. And because that one is a little harder to imitate, we are still the ONLY one that does this.
Here are 4 steps to follow to discover yours:
1. What makes us different from our competitors?
Don’t say “it’s because we have the best customer service” because everyone says that and it’s NOT unique… at all. HOW are you the best? What specifically sets your service apart from the competitors? Be as specific as possible so your USP is as precise as it can be, therefore solving a precise problem.
Here’s an example of a specific USP versus a vague one from two insurance companies:
Company A (vague USP): We have the very best customer service in our industry.
Leaves you feeling… nothing, right?
Company B (specific USP): We are the only insurance company in Raleigh, NC that guarantees a same-day response from an adjuster, should you ever need to make a claim.
This one probably conjures up memories of when you had to contact your insurance company and get put on hold for hours only to be told, “Your claims adjuster will contact you.” It also makes you think about how uncomfortable it would be to be in need of your insurance and not have anyone to speak to, to start the resolution process. That would be an unwanted situation, right?
Company B is already solving a problem for you. You have to dig deeper to find out what Company A has to offer.
I think it’s fair to say that most people would choose Company B over Company A if you were comparing them, at least on a surface-level. I would certainly call Company B for a quote before I called Company A — and that’s the difference a good USP can make for your business.
If you’re stumped and can’t figure out what makes your business different:
Try and answer some of these questions with your leaders (or set aside some time for yourself if you’re going it alone):
- What void in the marketplace can you fulfill?
- What can you guarantee about your product or service?
- What do people hate about your industry that you can fix?
- Is there something niche in your industry that you can address that will differentiate you from others in your industry?
2. Why is our product/service a “must-have” for your target audience?
How does your USP make the customer’s life better or easier? Is it solving any industry pain points that others aren’t? Make sure it’s not just a good USP in your eyes but reflects the needs of your target audience.
3. What are the benefits of choosing you over the competition?
If you can’t immediately identify what makes you different, a good place to start is to do your due diligence and define your competitors’ USPs.
I’ve written before about how to thoroughly research your competitors. It can be a larger undertaking, and I recommend you thoroughly put in the time to do this before dedicating resources to your USP. Market/competitor research is something that I think too many business owners neglect, but I’ll save that for another day…
And last but not least (especially if you’re stuck):
4. What is the most painful, disappointing, and horrible part about your industry that customers experience?
Figure out how you can make it so that they never have to experience this!
PostcardMania had to do this. We were stuck on what truly made us different from everyone else once they started imitating our business model. After some brainstorming, we realized the worst part about marketing is not knowing if you’ll get results — so we started to collect results to give biz owners more confidence in marketing.
Hopefully these 4 questions will lead you to your business’s USP.
One more tip – if you can use real numbers as opposed to rounding up (see ours above), it adds credibility to your USP
But once your USP is set, the next biggest challenge presents itself…how will you handle promoting your USP to your target audience? That’s another nut to crack entirely.
Our direct mail can help you with that. If you’re not exactly sure how direct mail works, read our Definitive Guide for 2021 here.
Next, read up on which mailing list is best suited for your business’s goals.
Once you’re comfortable, reach out to one of our marketing consultants at 1-800-628-1804! Their advice is always FREE.
Or, you can email any questions you may have directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy New Year!