By Bill Cherry
What is a USP?
Why is a USP such a powerful marketing tool?
How to create a USP.
What is a USP? Your unique offer to the customer that other businesses can’t.
A USP is what makes you, your business, or your products different and unique from the competition. We all live in an over communicated society bombarded with thousands of messages every day. TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards, signs, posters, calendars and even the logos on you computers. It’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed or confused.
Our brains are very smart, (ha ha , get it brain…smart…) and have a way to deal with all the over communication we experience every day. It has a part of the brain that filters out most of the messages we receive every day. That’s good for us because it keeps us from going crazy. On the other hand, it becomes a big problem for marketers. When the brain filters out all the messages, it also filters out the messages about our product, business, or service. Marketers want their messages to stay in the memory, not get filtered out. You can see the problem.
Because of the massive amount of stimulus we face, we must make our business stand out from the rest, the competition. The way we do that is to use the USP, Unique Selling Position. The USP will give your business or product a clear advantage over the competition.
Try this experiment: The next time you are watching TV with someone, when a commercial break is finished playing ask the person to name the products in the previous commercial break. In most cases they can only name three. Most commercial breaks run between six and eight spots. That means that five of the companies that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire the best advertising agency, buy the air time, and produce the spot and you and your friend can’t even remember their product.
Sometimes we remember the silver bullet train that blast frosts on everyone when it passes by but we can’t remember the product…which beer was it?
Why is a USP important?
All businesses in any categories do basically the same things. For example, dentists, insurance, retail stores etc. A few do one or two things the others do, but generally the same. An example is dentists. Most dentists do similar things; 24 hour emergency service, cosmetic, teeth whitening, crowns, etc.
So how does a prospective patent determine which dentist to go to? You may think everyone finds their dentist from the referral of a friend, but many don’t. Just look in the main yellow page directory under the dentist heading and see how many dentist ads there are. A ton of them.
Since most of the dentists are the same, how do we choose one? That is where creating a USP pays off.
Some examples of USPs are:
1. Tuff Shed
2. three Day Kitchen and Bath
3. Dominos Pizza
4. The chiropractor
5. Steel hunting knives
Five steps to create a USP:
1. Analyze the competition to see if they have a USP and if so what it is. You don’t want to duplicate theirs. Most small businesses whether brick and mortar or online, don’t have a USP so you may get your choice of all available. That was the case with Tuff Shed.
2. List all the benefits of your products, or business. Include all the features you’re your business has. Perhaps your business has existed for 30 years, competitive prices, the most helpful staff, great reputation, wide selection etc.
3. Compare your features to the competition and eliminate similar features they have. If your business has been in business 30 years, the competition has also. Cancel that feature. Your business has competitive prices, does the competition. Scratch it. Your business has a very helpful staff and service, so do theirs. Cross it out.
4. Determine what features your business has left that the competition
Perhaps your staff speaks Spanish. Maybe you offer an unconditional return policy.
5. Identify any problems your business industry has that can be addressed. For example: remodellers have a reputation for not being able to finish a project on time. We’ve all heard those stories. That is a problem the remodeling industry has. You can use that problem to create a USP similar to Three Day Kitchen and Bath. No one else offers a remodel in only three days. It was as revolutionary as Domino’s delivery pizza was.
6. Brain storm possible USPs. Make a list of at least 25. Pick one that will represent your business as very different from the competition.
7. Use your new USP in all advertising, signage, websites, and in other ways.
Let’s do one together- a real case
Chiropractor- he had been in business for 20 years. He offered adjustments, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and massage therapy. Very comprehensive. Another new young chiropractor opened a practice in Dr. Jones’s area. The new doctor provided all the same services as Doctor Jones. The new doctor did a lot of aggressive advertising with billboards, radio, and newspaper. Doctor Jones started to see a decline in his patent visits.
How to Proceed:
1. Analyze the competition for a USP.
The new doctor did a lot of advertising that said his practice was The One Stop Chiropractic practice that provided everything. He advertised all the services he offered. He essentially stole the USP the “One Stop Shop” from Dr. Jones. Dr. Jones had not established a USP so it was open for any doctor to take and the new doctor did. Now Dr. Jones must create a different USP.
2. List all benefits and features doctor Jones’ practice has.
Experience 20 years
3. Compare list of benefits Doctor Jones has compared to the benefits the new doctor has.
Jones New Doctor
20 years experience 5 years experience
Well known new, not well known
Comprehensive services has same
Convent location has same
Friendly staff has same
Competitive prices has same
The features Doctor Jones had are:
20 years experience
Somewhat well known, but changing with people moving in and out of the area.
4. Identify problems the industry has:
Waiting to see the doctor; patents hate to wait.
Open only for daily hours; hard for people to take off work to get treatment
Waiting area is plain; uncomfortable chairs, old magazines, TV with bad picture, and children running around and bothering people.
5. Brain storm ideas for a USP
Below are three different USPs that could be used by the doctor.
a. “The doctor when experience counts.” Find a way to say if you want the best with the most experience, Dr. Jones is the guy.
b. “You never wait more than 5 minutes to see the doctor.”
He is the only doctor that is open evenings on Tuesday and Thursday.
c. “A visit to doctor Jones is a luxurious experience.” New decorating, new luscious carpet, very comfortable leather wingback chairs, feet massaging units for each chair, current and well targeted magazines, fresh brewing espresso, soda and play area for children, fresh flowers. The experience for patents is much more than a doctor visit. Everyone will tell their friends.
Any of the three USPs will work very well. In summary, the unique selling proposition is the single most powerful marketing tactic small businesses can use. Used properly it can help a business increase market share and become top-of-mind in that business category.