The Importance of a Strong USP

With your company/product name established, it‘s time to tackle another wordy task:  creating a unique selling proposition (USP). When a customer asks…

―50 other companies sell the same products and services as you do. Why should I do business with you rather than one of your competitors?

…your USP gives the answer.

Every product, business or service needs a positioning statement that makes it stand out from the competition. It is up to you to discover or create this element of uniqueness. If you can successfully differentiate yourself, your business and your products from your competition, the road is clear to a flood of prospective buyers and a tidal wave of profits.

TOOL: Steps To USP Success

It‘s obvious that while most business owners understand they need a USP, they just don‘t know how to develop one.  It‘s a shame because the process is fairly simple…although you will have to put on your creative ―thinking cap.

The following 5-step approach should help you create an effective USP without too much mental wear and tear:

Step #1 –  Get to Know Your Competitors and Their USP

Seek out potential competitors online, in the phone book, and in newspaper/magazine ads.  Select 3-5 or 5-10 of the businesses that are doing well and try to determine their USP. Some will not have a clear USP, of course. If they don‘t, try and identify the features or services that they stress in their messages.

Now comes the tricky part:  look for the gap in their products or services that you can bridge.  What area of the market is not being serviced where you can make your mark?

TOOL: 11 Stealth Tactics To Get
Market Research on Competitors

  1. Ask your competitors’ customers or prospects questions about their experience.
  2. If you are in a retail business, stand in the parking lot and ask exiting customers about their experience. (A little discretion here, please!)
  3. Shop the competition yourself…or have someone else do it for you.
  4. Collect information about your competition from any ads they run, their website, news releases, articles in the newspaper, the Yellow Pages, anything you can get your hands on.
  5. Ask your friends or relatives to keep an eye out for information on your competitors and forward it to you.
  6. Call competitors who are out of your selling area and talk to them about how they do business. (Networking)
  7. Assuming you have an opening, advertise a specific job position and interview your competitors’ employees who may be attracted to you. You‘ll be amazed at what they‘ll tell you. (Again, this calls for some discretion)
  8. Try sending a couple of older college students out to research the competition periodically and pay them a small fee for each visit.
  9. Prepare the typical questions that you would ask if you were to go yourself such as, ―What’s the difference between this store and the store down the road? (actually your store) or ―I just visited XYZ store down the road and their ______ can do this, this and this. Why is your _______ better?
  10. Have your (legal) spies document their findings in a written report in a consistent format. Suggest that they write their feedback as soon as they leave the store while it‘s fresh in their minds.
  11. Talk to vendors or suppliers that you have in common.

Lloyd‘s Simple Marketing Tips To Put
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Believe it or not you may be able to sit down with a competitor and talk.
You  need  to  always  be  thinking  of  new  ways  to  get information about your competitors.

Step #2 –  Get To Know Yourself

Sit down and brainstorm with your staff, family, and friends about elements that should be included in your USP. Don‘t judge the ideas, just write them down.  Stimulate discussion with questions like:

  • What do we do the best?
  • What do we do better than our competition? What awards have we won?
  • What have our customers said about us?
  • What praise do we often get from our customers? What endorsements for celebrities or well-known organizations do we have? What endorsements could we get?
  • What does our product or service do better than anyone else‘s?
  • How is our business model different from our competition?
  • What market category or niche is not being served by our industry?


Lloyd‘s Simple Marketing Tips To Put
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It is helpful at this stage to interview and survey
your current and past customers.
  Ask them
why they bought from you rather than your competition.
What are they looking for in a provider of your product or
service? What is important to them when making a buying
decision?  What feature or benefits do they
value most or would like to see added to your product or service?

Step #3 –  Write Down and Crystallize Your Ideas

Write down the key points of your USP concept. Focus on the benefits to your customer. Develop a list of 5 to 10 possible positioning statements.

Once you‘ve created some concepts, show this list to your staff, friends, family and current customers. Get their input and suggestions and use these suggestions and comments to narrow your USP concept down to a single main differentiating concept.

Lloyd‘s Simple Marketing Tips To Put
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Once you have settled on the most unique and compelling
feature of  your  product  or  business,  begin  to  distill  it
down  to  one paragraph  that  clearly  communicates  and
sums  up  why  your customers should buy from you. This
paragraph can be used on your website and in your
marketing materials where you have more
room to explain the unique benefits that you bring to your customers.


Step #4 –  Integrate Your USP Into Everything You Do

Once you have carefully constructed your powerful positioning statement, the goal is to put it on your letterhead, on your business card, in your answering machine message, on your website, and in all of your advertising and marketing collateral. Every time you talk to your customers, employees or suppliers you should mention your USP.

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