As part of helping our clients create their brand positioning statement, we often ask them to define their USP, or unique selling proposition – something they believe they do well that separates them from their competition. Often they don’t have one, or use a generic response such as “innovation and great customer service”, which I give 2 out of 10 - when I'm in a good mood.
A USP is not essential by any means, if you are happy to battle it out on even terms with your competition. However, should you want a boost or an advantage over those who seek to steal your market share, a USP is often a useful tool to help you keep them at bay and even put some daylight between your offers.
So what is a USP, other than fancy marketing guff about what your business offers?
Creating a strong USP is 3-step process and it comes from not only knowing your business, but also your target audience (see The Pitch Report, November edition - Ed). A true USP is obviously ‘unique’, meaning your offer is providing your target audience something that no one else is, so some homework is needed too. Let’s go through the steps to create a USP.
1. What do I do and what is the benefit for my target audience?
This is nice and simple, using the old features and benefits approach. For example, “I design men’s fashion shirts, that look good and make them feel great”. Fair start, but you will find that most designers of high quality menswear could adequately claim the same.
If you don’t actually do anything different this is the point where you hit that dead end. So what can we do to find that point of difference?
2. Identify your target audience – in detail
For those avid readers of The Pitch Report, you will have completed your 5-step target audience analysis already (1. Universal 2. Demographic 3. Psychographic 4. Behavioural 5. Profiling) and have a profile sitting in front of you. Late adopters, newbies or those that need a refresher, should click here for a review.
3. Tailor your offer for your Audience
This is marketing 102, but it’s surprising how few people actually do it. When I say tailor your offer, I don’t simply mean make sure you have the right sizes, styles or designs in store. This means applying what you know now about your target audience, across your marketing mix - whether this be 3, 4 or 10 Ps, it’s up to you. You should consider your target’s needs, wants and expectations across things like, price, positioning, promotions etc. Ask yourself how they shop, what they value, what would really benefit them? By going through this process, you find your opportunity to create a USP for your brand.
Let's return to our men’s fashion shirt example, our friend may have found through his profiling, that most of his shoppers have their shirts bought by their partners online as gifts. Therefore he may choose to offer a free embroidery service for each shirt purchased, creating a truly unique gift every time, or he may choose a reward/gift for the purchaser to incentivise further purchases.
Regardless of whether you are looking for a USP or not (I recommend you do), this a useful exercise as it ensures your offer is relevant to your target audience. The more attuned you are to them, the greater your chances of standing out and winning that all important market share.