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What Is a Unique Selling Proposition?
A unique selling position, or USP, is an attribute that makes a business superior to its competition. A company with a successful unique selling proposition can present an argument to prospective customers about why it makes more sense to do business with them than with a rival. Perhaps the company's strong USP is that they have the lowest prices. Perhaps they have the most attentive customer service. Perhaps they have extensive industry experience which allows them to stand in the customer's shoes and provide the most relevant products and services.
The best USPs distinguish your product or service in noisy, crowded marketplaces. Companies build marketing campaigns around their USP. The purpose of these marketing strategies and marketing messages is to get customers to associate a business with unique benefits.
Unique Selling Proposition vs. Unique Value Proposition
A unique selling proposition is similar to but not synonymous with another business term: a unique value proposition. A unique value proposition concerns the specific benefits a company provides its target customers, highlighting how their lives might be improved by doing business with the company. A unique selling proposition concerns a company's unique qualities compared to competing businesses. The most successful companies must have both an excellent USP and an excellent unique value proposition; by providing both, business owners can truly meet a prospective customer's needs.
Why Are Unique Selling Propositions Important?
A strong unique selling proposition gives a company a competitive advantage over its competition. A company can train its employees in all best practices, it can staff a sales team and create marketing materials, it can have a strong mission statement and clear web design—but without a USP, still may not reach an audience.
A successful USP can reach customers who may know nothing about your mission statement or business model but instead are looking for the company that offers the lowest cost or the highest quality or the best return policy. If you can communicate that you're the best choice for one of these attributes, you’ll be in a better position to win the customers you need to grow your business.
A Simple Example of a Unique Selling Proposition
Unique selling proposition examples abound in today's business economy. For example, imagine a pizza delivery company that conducts market research showing that delivery customers care about receiving a pizza hot out of the oven. Accordingly, the company devises marketing efforts to showcase insulated delivery pouches that guarantee a hot pizza when the driver arrives at the customer's door. This clear unique selling proposition would distinguish the company from its competitors who don’t offer insulated delivery bags.
How to Create a Unique Selling Proposition
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In order to create a unique selling proposition, you must understand what your target audience wants in a product or service.
- Use market research. If possible, new businesses should commission market research to understand their ideal buyer and what motivates them. If professional market research exceeds your budget, survey your own colleagues and friends. Find out whether they are more motivated by the best quality or the lowest prices. Are they more motivated by style or durability? Also consider the shopping experience itself: Would someone pay a few dollars more to make a purchase in an easy-to-navigate online store? By understanding your target market and striving to meet its needs, you can come upon the clear, strong USP you need to stand out in the marketplace.
- Study the competition. Additionally, consider your competitors. What does your product or service offer the consumer that the competition does not? If you can offer a similar product but provide higher quality, a lower price, better service, or a more pleasurable shopping experience—in short, a USP—you’ll stand to attract market share away from the competition. A thorough analysis of the competition’s product or service will enable you to better differentiate your product in the eyes of your customers.
- Design a product or service that stands out. It may take trial and error or a long prototyping process, but it’s essential to ensure that your product stands out from the competition. Consider the entire experience of purchasing a product from the point of view of the customer, and ensure that your unique selling proposition is emphasized at each stage. If your USP is aligned with your company’s core values, you’ll be even better positioned to rise above your competitors.
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