How to Develop a Kickass Unique Selling Proposition

dare to be different

Sigmund Freud said “all behavior is motivated by the desire to seek pleasure or avoid pain.”  Even though Sigmund Freud has some theories I don’t all together agree with, this one I really have a connection with.  So what does this have to do with anything?  Your Unique Selling Proposition must be stated in terms of how your product or service helps your customer avoid a pain or bring a pleasure! If you remember anything, remember this.

Your business should have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and your products or services should also. This article focuses on the USP of your products or services, but many of the important points also apply to a business USP.

Whether you’re just starting your business or you’re managing one that has been up and running for quite some time, clearly defining the USP of your product or service is an incredibly worthwhile pursuit. –And by time you’re done reading this short article you’ll undoubtedly understand why.

We’ll help you discover what a USP is, explain the importance of a USP, and walk you through identifying the USP of your product or service. Let’s get started.

What is a Unique Selling Proposition?

A USP tells your audience why your business, or specific products or services your business offers are different than your competitors. In essence, a USP effectively states how your product or service is unique, and in doing so motivates the consumer to buy.

Here’s a fictitious (but relevant!) example: Homegrown Chocolates grows and harvests organic chocolate beans, hand pours the chocolate into the mold, and personally packages each bar. What is the USP of Homegrown’s chocolate bar? It’s: organic, handcrafted, and personally wrapped. This creates pleasure! That’s yummy, unique stuff!  Homegrown is intentional on communicating how their chocolate brings pleasure to their customers. 

What is the Importance of a USP?

Today’s consumer is smarter than ever; life is faster than ever; today’s marketplace is flooded with more choices than ever; and money is tight. Still, according to the annual World Wealth Report from Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, America is home to over 3.1 million millionaires. –And a huge percentage of those are people who started out just like you. So, even though times are achanin’, there is money to be made as an entrepreneur- but having a solid USP is fundamental for success.

A USP is important because it tells your smart audience WHY YOU; WHY YOUR PRODUCT or SERVICE. A solid USP also supports the price of the product or service- especially when the price is elevated. An average chocolate bar is about $1, but Homegrown sells its bar for $6, thanks to a well defined USP.

How Do You Identify the USP of Your Product or Service?

The process of identifying the USP of your product or service might seem a bit overwhelming. Relax; it isn’t. The easiest way to find out what your USP is if you are an existing company is ASK!!  Ask your customers why they work with you or buy your product or service.  This will give you all kinds of useful information and your customers will appreciate you asking.  But, don’t stop there.  Identifying the USP of your product or service will help you get to know it better than you ever thought possible, which in turn will help you market it correctly, and sell it more effectively. We encourage you to choose one product or service you offer (or intend to offer) and consider how it is Different (unique) from your competitors. Be as specific as you can.

Different could mean a variety of things: higher quality, less expensive, exclusive, handcrafted, better customer service, faster, simpler, organic, more technologically advanced, more effective, and so on.

Then ask yourself how Different translates into a Benefit for the consumer. A very basic example is offered by Homegrown’s chocolate bar. Different means organic and organic Benefits the consumer by being healthier than non-organic chocolate. Different also means handcrafted and handcrafted Benefits the consumer by being highly unique.  TOMS shoes is an excellent example of a USP that works.  For every pair of shoes you buy, one is donated to someone in need.  This is unique and solves a real need and issue. You as the customer receive pleasure by helping someone avoid pain.

What are Your Customer’s Business Issues and Implications of Those?

Before you write and promote your USP, it is good to make a list of all the issues or needs your customer or potential customer is trying to get resolved.   You then can take these business issues and ask, “What are the implications of these issues or needs?”  Meaning, what is the reason a customer would want to take action.

Need an example? If you sell coaching services, your client issues may be to have more work/life balance or have stronger relationships with their community.  What are the implications if this isn’t resolved?  Your client may get sick (a pain you can help avoid) from not having enough time to take care of themselves or their relationships may suffer because they don’t know how to build solid relationships with their community, which in turn will mean no revenue.

Now that you have a clear understanding of what a USP is, and why it’s important, steal a few moments of time and use our easy to follow unique selling proposition guide to identify the unique selling proposition (USP) of one of your products or services.

Once you define your product or service USP, don’t bury it and forget it. Your USP is live, and needs refinement and reworking over time for maximum effectiveness.

Now It Is Your Turn!

In the comments section below, put your best USP and let us help you improve it.  That is what we are here for.  You can also twitter me and I will give you my two cents.  Don’t forget –  use the guide above to help you think it through.

Now What?

Congratulations; you’ve identified the UPS of your product or service, but now what? Here are three ways to let the world know about the USP of your product or service, via the World Wide Web:

  • Home page: Your website’s homepage should clearly show and tell your audience WHY you, WHY your product or service. You have a fraction of a second to capture your audience. Images that relay your USP can be particularly effective. Then, subsequent web pages should reinforce the USP, expand upon it, and link to other pages that do the same.  Again, images create excellent mental pictures for your audience – further strengthening your USP.
  • Blog: Highlight a product or service via blog entry- reinforcing the USP.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like: Engage your audience through social media. Facebook posts can entertain, engage and educate your audience when written correctly. They should pose a question or convey a specific detail: Did you know that Homegrown hand-harvests 6,000 bean pods a year? Pinterest is a great way to strengthen your product or service USP through images and short text and it’s fun and easy to use too!
  • Communicate it through case studies and customer testimonials.  Point potential customers to them.  This helps them feel like they are taking a risk and helps them make the best decision.

Above all else, remember you want to answer these questions: Why you? Why your product or service? What pain am I solving or helping to AVOID for my customers better than my competition?

Resources

Download FreelanceMom.com’s Unique Selling Proposition Workbook to get you started.

This 3 minute video brings together much of what you’ve learned about USPs; we think it’s worth your time to check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImmB-nIpalE

Here are two insightful links on the subject of USPs:

http://thinktraffic.net/10-examples-of-killer-unique-selling-propositions-on-the-web

http://www.cim.co.uk/filestore/resources/10minguides/usp.pdf

PS. In North America, there are almost twice as many male millionaires as there are female millionaires. Get working on your USP, and let’s change this statistic!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Stein owns FreelanceMom.com, is a college business professor and a mom to Gabriela. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. You can find her online on Facebook and Twitter or at home burning something in the kitchen.