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A Structured Method for Developing a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

 

Disciplines > Sales > Sales articles > A Structured Method for Developing a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

For | Who | Unlike | Our | Will | Example | Discussion | See also

 

A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a statement or short paragraph that describes why customers should buy your product. It can be very useful both internally and externally in creating understanding and focus. It can also be very helpful to develop USPs for your main competitors.

There are many ways of developing a USP and this is an easy, templated method. Just follow the steps below.

For: Customers

You sell to customers and your message has to resonate with these people. So start out by naming the USP targets. This may be easy and clear, such as 'young professionals' but alternatively may need a certain amount of exploration and discussion.

Naming customers at the start of the USP immediately grabs them, just as if you had used their personal given name. Having seen their name, they are compelled to read on.

Who: Problem

Your product or service should solve problems or needs that your customers have and is why your customers buy them. A product does not solve all problems and this needs to be specific enough so customers will understand and appreciate it.

Naming the problem is a powerful step as it directly connects to needs. It also helps where your customer base is so broad they are hard to name, in which case you can simply use 'People who...'

Unlike: Differentiator

For a USP to be unique, it must of course be unique. Naming competitors or attributes of competing products gives a point of contrast to make your product appear superior (even if it is inferior in other ways).

When naming a differentiator attribute, make sure this relates directly to the need problem. Only name another company if they are your clear competition and whose brand image is strong enough for them to come immediately to mind when customers think of the problem.

Our: Product

Now that you have got full attention from target customers and have dismissed the competition, name the product that will solve their problem.

Keep this simple and clear. It is very easy to get enthusiastic here, lavishing many flattering words on your 'baby'. Too much gushing, however, is likely to put people off.

Will: Benefit

Finally, end on the benefits the customer will receive from using your product. This should of course include solving the problem, and may also add further benefits such as low cost and easy use.

Benefit description can be more expansive than product naming but should still be kept tight, as if you start naming benefits that the customer does not need, then they may also start thinking that they do not need the product.

Example

For parents with children who like messy play, unlike traditional soaps, our Biomax Kidcleen will gently and thoroughly wipe away all marks from sensitive skin.

For householders who need to paint ceilings, unlike Doolix, our Nodrop paint never drips or splashes -- not a drop!

For bigger women who want to be stylish, unlike mainstream stores, Topper sells fabulous fashions just for you.

Discussion

Developing a USP is in itself a valuable exercise as it gets people thinking about customers and why they buy, rather than the product-focused 'push' of typical selling.

The rationale for the given structure and order includes:

  • Naming customer and problem first grabs attention.
  • Naming differentiator shows uniqueness and shuts out competition.
  • Naming product creates buy focus.
  • Naming benefit lasts ends on a positive reason to buy.

Although the USP structure offered above can give a powerful statement, it is not mandatory. You can arrange the order and add or leave out items (this can be a useful exercise anyway). The only real measure is the impact the statement has in influencing customers to pay attention and buy.

A variant of this structure is to include a call to action in the produce and benefit description, so instead of saying 'our ... will ...' you can say something like 'when you buy ... you will find ...'.

See also

Unique Selling Proposition (USP), Unique, Selling and Proposition

 

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