As I had discussed in one of my previous blogs, ensuring that the product or service your business offers is unique or at least perceived to be different is essential for success. Once you have a product that you’re projecting as unique, you need to drive the right message to the customer. You’ll have to talk about how your product is different from what is on offer from other brands in the market. This, in simple terms, is called a “unique selling proposition” or USP.
Rosser Reeves of advertising firm Ted Bates & Company, who is said to have coined the term Unique Selling Proposition, explained it in the simplest form, “Each ad must make a proposition to the consumer… ‘Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit’…The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer.”
Creating a compelling USP is not easy. It is especially difficult in a competitive market, where multiple players exist and the scope for innovation is minimal. But there are some points that have helped me successfully navigate this difficulty in the past. Let me talk about them.
Identify your target customer.
The phrase ‘unique selling proposition’ has the world ‘proposition’ in it for a reason. The USP you create for your brand is offered as a reason for someone to purchase your product. Thus, your search for a USP should begin with identifying your target customer or the segment of the market your product is designed for. You will have to study this segment in detail and identify their needs and the motives behind their decisions. The more accurate your understanding of the customer is, the better your USP will be.
Describe how it helps that target customer.
Once you’ve decided who your target customer is, you will have to describe how your product helps them. You will have to highlight how it solves their problem or meets their needs. For example, if you target a low-income group, you can highlight that the price or life-cycle cost of your product is lower than what your competitors offer. Or, if you’re targeting an aspirational market with rising income levels, you can focus on the product’s premium quality or something that concentrates on it being physically superior to others.
Identify the differentiators.
You will have to come up with a list of three to five things that differentiate your product from what your competitors offer. Specifically, you will need to prove that selecting your product will be more beneficial for the customer than going for what your competitors offer. These differentiators could include cost, quality, services, dependability, and warrant. You’re basically making a list of reasons why your product should be an irresistible choice.
Take a cue from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who says low price, fast delivery, and a wide selection of products are the three value propositions he has for his customers.
Come up with a promise.
Making a promise part of your USP always works in your favour. In a way, you tell the market that you are offering a unique product and that they must give you a chance by trying it out. While many are quick to dismiss this, the power of making an emotional connection with your customer through a promise goes a long way in making your product desirable.
Add a little bit of hyperbole.
No, you don’t have to make false claims. All you have to do is be bold and confident in the claims that you’re making about your product. The language you use should show that you’re confident about your offering being better than everything else. Use of words like ‘first’, ‘only’, ‘greatest’, ‘favorite’, ‘best’, among others, presents a larger than life picture of your product. It builds an image that is probably exaggerated but not necessarily untrue.
Make a catchy statement out of these.
Using a combination of the above five points, you will have to make a catchy phrase or multiple phrases. These phrases must convey a positive message and clearly say how your product is different and resonate the personality of your brand and/or product. The lines that you come up with will form the most visible part of your USP. Remember, USP is as much about your product as it is about your ability to communicate with the target base.
Ask for feedback.
You must keep the feedback loop open for your USP as for everything else. As your product evolves and becomes more established, the tone and tenor of your USP pitch may have to change. Among other things, feedback may help identify when such a time has arrived. Feedback can also help you identify gaps in your USP. If customers are repeatedly talking about an attribute of your product that does not find a mention in your USP, you would know something is missing. The USP can then be updated accordingly. This, however, does not mean that you have to update it frequently. You need to maintain consistency for the message to reach home.
Conclusion – The Three Cs of USP
If you think about it, your product’s USP is also your sales pitch. Anyone who has managed a business would know that your sales pitch should talk about the positives of the products, why it is good for the customers, how it fulfils their needs and why it is better than anything else on offer. At the same time, it must be confident or even an attention-grabber. You want all the eyeballs on your product. That’s the first purpose the USP should serve.
It should be clear, catchy and concise.
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