What makes YOU so special?
Why should I buy anything from you?
Let’s say I’m interested in buying exactly what you’re selling. Why should I buy it from YOU?
The answer to this question is your unique selling proposition (USP). Your USP is what sets you apart from your competition. It defines your brand and is the cornerstone of your marketing. If you don’t know what your USP is, it’s time to figure it out.
By definition, your USP is what makes your business or product special (a.k.a “unique.”) If you’re fortunate, your USP is that you are, in fact, the best at what you do (the Lebron James of your industry) or you’re doing something completely new and disruptive to an industry (like a young Uber, Airbnb, or Netflix).
But if you’re laboring in a competitive marketplace you’re probably going to have to dig a little deeper.
To begin figuring out your USP, ask yourself, “What advantage do I have over my competition?”
- Do I provide better/faster/friendlier customer service?
- Do I have access to better technology?
- Do my customers benefit from my location?
- Do my values set me apart?
- Do I solve a problem that my competitors ignore?
- Do I understand my customers better because I share their culture/community/values?
- Do I stand behind my product/service in a way my competitors fail to?
- Do I serve a niche audience that no one else is serving?
- Do I provide a unique perspective or expertise in my industry?
Here are some examples you can learn from.
There are plenty of online retailers selling shoes. But TOMS Shoes is unique in that every purchase results in a charitable donation.
It started with TOMS giving away a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair they sold. That commitment to social welfare has expanded with their product line so they now provide the gift of sight, clean water, safe birth and bullying prevention services to people in need.
Web hosting is a crowded, cutthroat business where it’s hard to stand out. GreenGeeks differentiates their product by being environmentally friendly. Here’s what their website says:
“Our hosting platform has been designed with a maximum use, no waste of resources mindset. Every aspect of our hosting platform is built to be as energy efficient as possible.
In addition to this, for every amperage we pull from the grid, we invest 3 times that in the form of renewable energy via Bonneville Environmental Foundation.”
There is no shortage of choices when it comes to getting a haircut. But how many of those choices are decorated like a sports bar? Sports Clips is a chain of hair salons with “Sports everywhere. TVs everywhere – playing sports.” Their USP is “a place where guys [can] take care of one of life’s necessities – a haircut – and say ‘This is my kind of place; I feel comfortable here.’”
Sometimes, you can even take what seems like a weakness and turn it into your USP. That’s what Avis Car Rental did in 1962. For years Avis had struggled in the shadow of the market leader, Hertz. Avis embraced their second-place status and launched the extremely successful tagline, “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder. Or else.”
What these examples demonstrate is that your USP can’t be just some marketing BS. It has to be an integral part of your business identity. That being said, you can use just about anything that sets you apart as your USP.
One of the simplest methods for discovering your USP is to ask your best customers why they do business with you. Their answers may surprise you.
Don’t have anyone to ask? Sign up for my Marketing Therapy and we’ll figure it out together.