The term USP (Unique Selling Point) is often thrown around among other marketing buzzwords with little real meaning. But what is a USP, what should it try to achieve, and why is it important for small businesses?
Here’s the lowdown:
Your USP is a crucial aspect of not only your company’s marketing, but also its deeper sense of identity. When accurate, persuasive and carefully crafted, a USP enables a brand to differentiate its products or services from the others available on the market. This can help create appeal among prospects and buyers who would ordinarily be swayed to look elsewhere. If your new business cannot differentiate itself from its competitors, it will struggle to make an impact on potential investors, customers, and partners.
Your USP might only end up being a few sentences long, but it should be your business or product’s way of identifying itself. It should sound effortless. Even if it took weeks of work to get it down to a snappy catchphrase!
How to find your USP
When trying to figure out what your USP might be, look at your competitors and identify what you do differently. Perhaps your product has additional features or benefits, your price is lower, or your company’s ethos makes it stand out from the crowd. Do you donate money for every item you sell? Are your products environmentally friendly? Does your widget do things other widgets could only dream of? Let the world know.
How to communicate your USP effectively
You have identified your USP and worded it in a way that it is catchy and brief. Now it is time to consider how you want to communicate it to potential customers, partners, and investors. They need to be convinced as much as you are as you are that your product irresistible.
Your approach should be different according to who you are communicating with. Potential investors and potential customers have very different concerns, so you need to address them separately.
Communicating your USP to potential customers
People who might buy your product or service need to hear about a USP that makes your item invaluable to them. Putting the product into context, presenting its importance in the market or in their lives, and illustrating the benefits (rather than the features) of the product or service are all important aspects of making a sale to a customer or client.
By highlighting these facets, your USP should make your brand appealing while also convincing your prospect that it is the right choice for them.
Communicating your USP to potential investors
Investors, on the other hand, need a more rational reason to hand over their money than customers might. Your USP must be backed up by statistics, figures and facts to make it attractive to someone who ultimately wants to make money, as well as support your brand.
Using the same USP for everyone
The same USP can be used for investors and consumers, but the context in which they are placed and the information that is presented will have to be different. The same applies if you are presenting your product to stores for distribution; some of the information you supply will be different to the first two scenarios.
So, while an individual customer won’t need data about your profit margins, an investor might. At the same time, a partner who is keen on expanding the distribution of your product (or an investor considering joining you in your business venture) may not need to be presented with a nostalgic or romanticised context to situate your product in, but they may still benefit from those descriptors. Even when dealing with other businesses and brands, remember you are still looking to relate to individuals within those companies.
Aspects of a USP that apply to everybody
Often the benefits an individual customer could enjoy if they buy your product are no different from the benefits your investor’s customers will also enjoy. So, while you need to personalise your approach and contextualise your USP depending on who you are speaking to, there are aspects of that proposition that will apply to everyone. If your product will positively benefit somebody’s life, communicate that to everybody concerned.
Your USP can incorporate your passion for your product or your niche.
It can include:
- Your in-depth knowledge of your sector
- Why you are the perfect person to launch and sell this product
- A strong backstory
A backstory will nearly always enhance your brand. This is because it is in the context we discussed earlier that can benefit those you need to convince.
All of these factors can strengthen your product’s story and USP to customers, partners and investors. When pitches that include your USP are delivered with confidence, they become persuasive and compelling.
Keep it consistent
Whether you work alone or as part of a team, the authenticity of your USP must always be consistent. If one person lacks passion or a team leader does not share the firm’s vision, this will quickly become apparent. It will detract from the overall message you’re conveying in meetings and through marketing channels.
To find out more about how to put your best business foot forward, or learn more about marketing best practices, take a look around our help centre.