If you are the only player in your industry, you can probably get away with not having a unique selling proposition for your brand. Think of the company that runs your city’s metro or railway services. You can’t just switch to a different one if you are not happy with their offering!
However, this is not precisely the case for the majority of businesses out there. For this reason, today we will see the key strategies to create a unique selling proposition (USP) that will make your company stand out from the competition.
A strong and instantly recognizable USP is key for businesses operating in highly competitive markets. It helps to position the company within that particular market. However, it also shows potential customers that there is something that you do better than competitors.
The exact definition of this concept, according to Wikipedia, boils things down to the existence of a unique benefit:
A unique selling proposition (USP) refers to the unique benefit exhibited by a company, service, product or brand that enables it to stand out from competitors.
However, it is much more than that. It is the backbone, the essence of your business. Think about it – the majority of industries have plenty of fierce competitors, and this is never going to change. And the reality is, you can’t be absolutely amazing at everything.
Even if you are the biggest and most powerful company within your industry, there will always be someone that does something better than you. You might have the most developed product on the market, but another business might offer a better customer service than you.
The truth is, we can’t be the best at absolutely everything.
But the good part is, it’s not necessary! If you are offering a great product and your business adds value for the customers, this is more than enough for a good start.
However, you will need to create a unique selling proposition to let customers know what is it that you do better than other businesses. What value do you give them that others don’t? So, let’s dive right into our key steps:
1. Identify your customers’ needs
The first step you need to take in order to create a unique selling proposition that works for your brand is to identify your customer’s needs. You must find what value you can add to their life. Do you provide an existing solution for a problem they have?
Let’s look at some practical examples to understand this better. For example, you can be:
- The only hotel within a specific region that offers spectacular views to the beach. This provides a great value to people who are looking for a relaxing place to disconnect from their work.
- The only company that is open 24/7 for a particular service. Maybe, you are the only restaurant in town that never closes. In my native country Bulgaria, in Sofia, there is a restaurant on the main street that works 24/7. And we always know we can end up there after a long night!
- Or maybe, you can be the only business that offers customer service on the weekends. Think of a software company that provides a website hosting platform. And you know that you can always get in touch with them if something crashes over the weekend.
All of these examples show a unique selling proposition designed around value.
It has to be something that your customer actually needs. It serves you no purpose to be the only one selling dog food at 3 am in the morning if nobody needs it.
The majority of people will just wait for the next day to purchase dog food. So, your USP would not be of particular value for them. And of course, you don’t have to be the only one doing this specific something. You just have to do it better than the rest.
For this reason, you should start by figuring out what do people need within your industry and business activity. There are several ways you can do it:
- By getting feedback directly from your customers;
- By doing a keyword research on Google;
- Or by visiting blogs and forums within the industry;
A lot of people who have specific concerns or problems on a particular topic will leave their questions on forums like Quora or Reddit, among others. These places are a golden mine for discovering what people actually need.
2. Explain how you solve their needs
Now that we have identified our potential customers’ needs, it is time to move on to the next step. And that is, explaining to them where do you fit in this equation. In other words, how are you able to satisfy their need, or solve their problem, better than your competitors?
After all, you can’t create a unique selling proposition without establishing the right connection between your brand and your potential customers.
Let’s take a look at this example from Woocommerce:
Their USP is a spot on. “The most customizable eCommerce platform for building your online busines.” This simple sentence gives us a lot of valuable information:
- Many customers are frustrated with not being able to customize their website enough (problem);
- They need a platform that helps them design their online business the way they like (need);
- Woocommerce solves their problem by offering “the most customizable eCommerce platform” (solution);
In fact, the best formula to create a unique selling proposition is quite simple:
USP = identify an existing problem + offer the best solution on the market
And most importantly, make it better than your competitors’. Of course, it is much more simple to say than to actually do – but understanding this is a good start!
By the way, you might also want to check my article 16 Unique Selling Proposition Examples for more USP examples that work.
At this point, we’ve already got a good understanding of the concept. So, it’s time to move into the more practical ways to take action:
The next step to finding our what makes your product and business so unique is to brainstorm. Sit down with your team, and write down everything that comes to your mind, even if it’s sound insignificant at first.
You might be surprised to find out that something that doesn’t look relevant at first can actually convert into a powerful USP. For example, the way your raw materials are produced.
Or maybe, you are located to a key source of product materials, which improves your logistics and allows you to make fast delivery. Which customers can often highly value.
4. Check your current data
If you want to create a unique selling proposition that works, one of the best ways to start is by tapping into your current data. It can be your Google Analytics, or your Customer Relationship Management tool.
If you’ve been running your business for a while, you can check all the comments, meetings, and call logs from your sales team. They can be a golden mine to discover reasons why your customers have chosen your product over the competitors.
Or to discover what is your “weak point” that you might need to work on, and even convert to a USP at some point later down the road.
5. Focus on only one thing
If you’ve managed to find multiple things that make your brand unique, that’s great! However, trying to fit them all into your USP might actually cause confusion to your customers.
After all, they need one powerful factor to associate you with, otherwise their attention will be diluted, and they will not remember you with anything in particular. So, write all these unique features down. Aand select the one that really stands out.
The one that solves the biggest issue that a customer might have within your industry. For example, a a shop can offer the best T-shirts with the highest quality, and the best working hours. However, one of these services will have higher value for the customer.
After all, for him it will be more important to purchase the best quality T-shirt rather than being able to shop at 6 in the morning.
6. Explore what your competitors are missing
Before you create a unique selling proposition that stands out from the crowd, you will need to have a good understanding of your competitors. What are they lacking in terms of products, services, and even business management?
For example, you might find out that your competitors fails short in their customer service department. Or maybe, they don’t deliver to certain regions or locations (and you do).
Or maybe they have the least variety of products on the market. Thing of a business school with only 10 executive programs in their portfolio, on very limited topics. And another one with over 50 programs across all industries and departments.
In this case, potential customers will highly value the variety of the second one when choosing how to move on with their carreer.
7. How to create a Unique Selling Proposition
Once you’ve identified a need that you are able to satisfy with the best solution on the market, the next step is to start crafting your compelling USP statement. You don’t need to write an entire essay in order to create a unique selling proposition that your customers will remember.
Ideally, your statement should fit into a single sentence. The more simple it is, the better is for people to remember and recognize it. Let’s look at some of the best examples:
- Avis – “We’re number two. We try harder.”
- UPS – “Does not fit? We still ship!”
- M&Ms – “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”.
- Domino’s – “Pizza delivered in 30 minutes, or it’s free”.
- Head & Shoulders – “Clinically proven to reduce dandruff.”
- Southwest Airlines – “We are THE low-fare airline”.
Another example that I personally love is Zara. I couldn’t find an official phrase formed into a USP statement, but their unique selling proposition is particularly powerful.
They are the only clothing company with the ability to create and reproduce the latest trends in high-fashion within a 2-week period. And deliver them to all stores worldwide within less than 4 weeks. Every time I think about the powerful logistics behind it, I find it absolutely fascinating.
This logistics allow Zara to deliver new fashion pieces across all its more than 2,000 global stores. Which not only its customers highly value, but it’s also extremely difficult to replicate by a company with less human and financial resources.
Tips & Templates
Anyways, back to crafting our USP statement, one way you can start with is with some of the following templates:
- [Company], the most/best/fastest/biggest, etc. + [adjective/feature] + [industry/business activity] in [location].
- [Company], the [industry/business activity] with the most/best/fastest, etc. + [feature] for [whom?].
Which, translated into actual examples (these are made up, and not the real USP of the companies), can look something like that:
- Petco, the pet shop with the biggest variety of toys for your happy pets.
- WizzAir, the airline with the most extensive and diversified network with over 140 destinations in Europe.
- Happy Socks, the most awesome and colourful sock designs for people who love life.
Of course, you can modify or mix these templates, but these are the general points that you should include in your USP:
- Who are you? It is not necessary to include your brand name in your USP. Of course, this will depend on the placement of your proposition. If it’s on your website right next to the logo and the actual name of the company, it is definitely not obligatory.
- What are you the best at? Now that you’ve found out what makes your business or products unique, express it within your USP statement. Make a promise to the customer. And of course, it should be one that you are actually able to deliver.
- Where? Although you can skip this component, I think it’s important because it sets up the limits for your promise, and it looks more true and authentic. For example, if you claim that you make the best burgers in the whole world, nobody is going to take it seriously.
- For whom? Who are the customers that are going to benefit from your unique product? One way to create a unique selling proposition is to include this component. This way, people who are within your target audience will instantly resonate with it.
And last but not least, make sure that you don’t:
- Extend your USP to an essay or a long paragraph that no one is going to read;
- Make an overpromise that you aren’t capable of delivering to your customers;
- Use generic language that don’t make it clear what your USP exactly is;
Adding a pinch of humour
Now that you have your statement nicely put up into a classic template, you can always take it and twist it a little bit. If you noticed, the majority of examples that we saw above didn’t follow any of the templates.
In fact, the templates serve the purpose of getting the right formula for your statement. Once you have it formulated, you can always find fun and creative ways to express the same in a better way.
And that’s about it! I hope you liked my article on how to create a unique selling proposition statement for your brand. Thank you for taking the time to read it, and I hope to see you in the next one!