What is your USP?
November 5, 2011 | Posted in: Articles & News, Branding, Flex Marketing news, Marketing pow wow
A USP or unique selling point is considered by many an essential ingredient for a successful business. Your business may have one or it may have many, but without it, how do you convince prospective customers that they are better off placing their business with you vs the next guy? There needs to be at least one attribute about your business that you do differently (ideally better) than any of your competitors to give you that “competitive edge” that is so highly prized. This is also known as differentiating your business.
Here are the main aspects that businesses build their differentiation (or unique selling points) on;
- Product/service features
- Linkage between functions (e.g. sales with service)
- Timing (being first to launch, more established etc)
- Links with other companies (e.g. credit card companies with car rental companies)
- Product mix (e.g. accessories, product bundling/service packaging or everything under one roof)
- Product/service customisation
- Product/service complexity/sophistication (leading edge)
- Distribution channels
- Service and support (e.g. excellent speed, excellent quality, money back guarantee etc)
The extent to which your product or service is differentiated will have a bearing on price sensitivity…for example, if your company’s service is vastly different to the competition, then you should be able to charge greater than the average price.
There is considerable creativity involved in coming up with a strong basis of differentiation in a business.
The rarer and more difficult it is for competitors to replicate your unique selling points, the more valuable your differentiation basis is!
I like to illustrate with an example that most of us can relate to us customers – a café! A café that has opened up without thinking through their USP will generally try and tick all the right boxes such as good hot coffee, comfortable seating, good lighting, music, well trained staff, clean cabinets, presentable, tasty food etc however these are functional features that allow their café to simply meet customers’ most basic expectations. If the café across the road does all the same things, there is little to set them apart.
BUT, if the café across the road has thought about geographics and demographics, they would have identified a gap in the market for serving the large groups of mums in the area that drop their kids off at the kindy down the road but have no where child friendly to go when they collect their kids at the end of the day and want to catch up with the other mums. By providing a menu with affordable, healthy kids snacks and drinks, a sandpit with seating nearby that the mums can keep an eye on the kids, they have got their “we’re child friendly” USP!
I have come across a lot of small businesses that have not gone through due diligence of writing a business plan, let alone a marketing plan, and therefore the need for a USP has never been considered! If your business is just another “me too” without any claims to what is unique or different about you, then you are not building your business on solid foundations – especially if your competitors decide to “up their game” by differentiating in an area where it is difficult for you to compete. Aren’t you best to be on the front foot by exploring the bases for differentiation in your industry first?
The best time to do this is when you are launching the business because then you can make sure all your marketing literature, including your website, your business cards, your elevator pitch etc are promoting that/those USP(s). Don’t despair, if you have managed to survive a while without one – it is not too late, you can address how you present your business now…it just provides a few more challenges because your brand could already be fairly established in your customer and prospects minds.
Whether you are starting out and want help defining USP(s) or need help with communicating USP(s) you have only just identified, call me for a chat on 09 416 2209 or 021 952 324.