‘Unique Selling Proposition’ is one of the most widely misunderstood marketing concepts. Here’s why.
The original idea of USP was to make a proposition in your marketing that stated a clear benefit of your offering that your competitors don’t or can’t offer, and which will persuade a large number of people to switch to your offering.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
But I hear marketers and non-marketers alike bemoaning that they ‘haven’t defined their USP yet’. They often end up highlighting something that is different from what their competitors do. But it is almost as often something that their customers don’t care about.
Just being different from your competitors is not enough – unless, in that difference, you are providing a sufficiently better answer to a problem that your customer cares enough about to adopt your offering.
I use a method that enables me to work with a client to identify the things that they can do better than their competitors and relate them to things their customers care about.
Together, we work out their competitive differentiation. Sometimes, that results in a unique selling point. More often it doesn’t result in something that clear, because there are several points of difference, and we have more work to do in their marketing communications to distinguish their offering from their competitors.
I’m not going to describe here the ‘secret sauce’ I use in helping people to think through this problem, because knowing the method isn’t enough. The style of questioning and analysis I use is a big part of how the client and I come up with the right answers.
But I will tell you that in your quest for your own USP, you first need to focus very hard on what your customers really care about, before you start to look at what you and your competitors offer them. In that basic orientation, you’ll find your way to the differentiation that will help you beat your competitors.