An important aspect of advertising is to educate your target audience about your business. Most of the time, it is a cut and dry list of the following: what you sell, the prices you charge, the quality of the goods, and the friendly customer service that you provide. However, most business advertising overlooks the most important thing they should be educating their prospective customers about. This is what is commonly referred to in the marketing industry as “your USP” – Unique Selling Proposition.
What is a USP? The definition of a USP is simply to explain the reason of your business’s existence. What unique service or products does your business furnish that I can’t possibly get anywhere else? How is the merchandise in your store different than the guy down the block? Why is your auto repair superior than the rest of the places listed in the yellow pages? Defining and articulating your USP is a critical strategy in getting out of a commodity business and making it proprietary. In a commodity industry, anyone can become your competitor. But if you take the steps to make your products and/or services unique to you, it is much more difficult for competitors to take business away from you.
A brand name is an example of a USP. Although there are plenty of cola drinks available, there is only one Coke. What is their USP? A soft drink that is regarded as highly superior than any other (sorry Pepsi fans!).
Apple’s vaunted iPod is another example of a USP. While there are hundreds of MP3 players, they are all referred to as “generics” when compared to the iPod. By making a product so cool, easy to use, and virus worthy, they have engineered a USP that has proven to be a formidable challenge to competitors, even to this day. A USP should not be a 2 hour discourse on why your business is better. Rather, it should be something that is easy to explain in a few short sentences. If your products are of better quality than the competition, that is your USP. This can be used to explain why your prices are higher. If your prices are the lowest, that is your USP.
The USP should be used in a variety of ways. In advertising, make sure your target audience can clearly see from the ad how your business is unique. In strategic planning, use it to make wise choices. And when deciding on which aspects of your business to improve, remember to strengthen your business’s unique qualities. Doing so makes you stand out from your competitors, and is a compelling factor in your customers choosing you over the others in your market.