We live in a world of overwhelming choice and variety. While this is great for the consumer, it isn’t so fun for small businesses. This is why all entrepreneurs and business people need to know how to write a unique selling proposition (USP).
If you ask an entrepreneur to define USP, they might say something like, “It’s what sets your business apart!" This definition does sound vague, but it's right on point.
The Oxford dictionary offers the following unique selling proposition definition:
USP, noun: “a feature or characteristic of a product, service, etc. that distinguishes it from others of a similar nature and makes it more appealing.”
But, what is a USP in more straightforward terms? It's what makes you different from your competitors. Competition is natural, but eCommerce has raised the bar, and customers are flooded with options. To help customers find your brand, you’ll need a unique selling point, something your competitors don’t have. And that’s where your USP comes in. It’s all about brand positioning.
Your USP is the difference between blending in and standing out. USP marketing is all about letting your prospective customers know what your business does better than anyone else—it's vital for pricing power and brand recognition.
Your unique selling proposition also allows you to focus on products and services that cater to your niche. This is critical as you launch your business.
“I studied business marketing and you get told that you have to have a point of difference... there has to be something unique about your business, in order for it to have the best chance of succeeding,” explains business owner Charl Ackerman, founder of The Barbery.
At SumUp, for example, we’re the top mPOS (mobile point-of-sale) in Europe. And we’ve achieved this by offering a unique card reader that pairs with any mobile device or tablet, allowing small merchants to accept credit card payments anywhere. We succinctly answer the demand for simple credit card processing.
We also offer transparent pricing, innovative technology, and intuitive setup, and each feature is designed to cater to our target audience.
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A strong unique selling proposition must explain how your business solves problems for your target market.
Your USP should include key selling points that make your business irresistible to potential customers.
You need a solid elevator pitch that makes your USP immediately visible.
Whether you’re starting a subscription box company or a barbershop, you'll need to cover these basics as you write your USP.
Creating a unique selling proposition isn't as difficult as it might sound. We've outlined the four necessary steps that'll help you write a killer USP for your business below:
It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in your love of the product or service your business offers. Or the finer points of your business (it’s natural to be excited about your new invoice software!). But your business isn’t for you. It’s for your customers.
When your customers come to your business, what do they want? What do you have that the competition doesn’t? This isn’t just about price. Today’s customers are concerned about values, reliability, and the quality of the products they buy.
If your business is up and running, this step will be more natural. You might offer a survey link after your customer completes a transaction on your virtual terminal, or email a questionnaire to your mailing list. In either case, ask for honest opinions about why your customers prefer your products or services.
If you haven't launched your business yet, congratulations, few business owners think about USP marketing before they go live. In this case, ask your test audience. Whether that means family and friends or early product testers, you want to get actual opinions from real people.
Time to put on your psychologist hat. With the information from steps one and two, go deeper into what drives and motivates your customers. Look at the real reasons people give your business their money. For example, if you own a barbershop, do your customers come in because they want a “new year, new me” look? If you sell pizza, do people buy from you because of your convenient location?
The more you know what motivates your customers, the better equipped you’ll be to make a unique selling proposition that appeals to them.
Now you can see the big picture. You can see what sets you apart from your competition and what you can do better. Use this information to make any necessary refinements to your business and its unique product or service offerings.
Once you've made all changes, it's time to write your 60-second elevator pitch and include your USP in your branding. You should know how to write a unique selling proposition by now, and you should understand your key selling points.
Before you begin, let’s take a look at some unique selling proposition examples. This will give you a better idea of how established companies are using USP marketing to set themselves apart.
The following examples of unique selling proposition are only three of thousands that you can research:
“I wanted to understand how I could do things differently,” said Charl. And he succeeded. After nearly a year of research, conducted in person at barbers around London, he found a niche he could fill. His USP includes a holistic experience for the customer.
“You're not only coming in for a change in appearance, you also come into relax,” he explained. “You come into drink fresh herb tea and slow your heart rate and be just calm. And that's why I think when clients leave they feel better on the outside, but also on the inside because they feel a bit, recharged.”
Donut shops have been around forever, and with chains like Dunkin Donuts, it’s not an easy industry to find a USP in. But Voodoo Donuts did it anyway.
With locations in Oregon and Colorado, Voodoo Donuts offers artisan donuts—complete with vegan choices—heavy metal, and several outside the box offerings with names vulgar enough to make you blush. Their signature donut, true to the name, is a voodoo doll with a pretzel stick impaling its jelly-filled heart.
Who can compete with that? Maybe you!
Women’s lingerie is a multi-billion-dollar industry with established businesses like Victoria’s Secret dominating the market. But Third Love found a unique selling proposition that allowed them to get a foothold in this cutthroat market. Their slogan (and USP)? “We have the right fit.”
They don't just carry a wide selection of bras and undies to answer this promise. They go a step beyond by offering the full spectrum of sizes, including half sizes, and a "try before you buy" guarantee.
Women from around the world have found their dream bras with Third Love, and despite the fierce competition, the brand is here to stay. Without its USP, though, it would have never fared so well.
As you work on developing a unique selling point for your business, look for ways to improve on all fronts. For example, you’ll want to offer a seamless sale experience for your customers regardless of how they choose to pay. That’s where SumUp can help.
The SumUp card reader is easy to set up and offers an affordable, transparent fee structure. Little touches like this can help your business stand out to customers. If your transaction process outshines your competition, that’s just one more thing that sets you apart!
If you’d like to keep reading about building a successful business, check out these articles: