Thanks to competition in the marketplace, customers have many choices when they want to buy a product or service. This helps create business opportunities, but it also makes capturing audience attention harder and makes sales trickier. Knowing how to market your products or service with a unique selling proposition can help guide your brand and make marketing decisions easier. In this article, we explain:
A unique selling proposition (USP) highlights a specific benefit of your company, product, or service that makes it better than the competition. Your USP is your “thing.” It’s what you want people to say about you when your company name comes up in conversation. Think of it as the title of an episode of Friends. Each one starts with the phrase “The one with the…” How do you want people to finish that sentence when talking about your products or services?
The focus for a USP is on customer value. What does your product or service do for them that another can’t? For this reason, it’s helpful to frame the USP around some aspect of the market that excites or attracts your target audience. For example, if CopyPress created a USP for our content management system (CMS), Dante, we may stress that it’s maintained in-house, and can take client suggestions for features that make it more user-friendly to meet niche needs.
There are three hallmarks of what makes an interesting USP. They include:
This hallmark means you can stand strong in your stance about what you’re promising the customer or client. A good USP is assertive because it’s true and reflects what your company believes about its own products or services. You can tell people what you do without including qualifiers or being wishy-washy. Look at these two potential USPs for CopyPress:
Which line is more assertive? The second, because it doesn’t use “safe” or suggestive language. It makes a claim and sticks to it. The other aspect of a good USP is that you can defend what you’re saying. Does your product or service really do that? Be able to prove or back up your claim with data, customer testimonials, or other facts and information. Otherwise, you can compromise customer and client trust.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “the customer is always right.” That might not always be the case, but in terms of opinion, when deciding to purchase a product or service, it is. It doesn’t actually matter what your product or service can do. If the customer thinks it’s not right for them, they’ll move on to the next. Your proposition may be unique, but if it doesn’t cover a topic the audience cares about, then it’s a moot point. Knowing what customers and clients want and why they’re looking to shop in your market can help with this portion of a USP.
Your USP is more than just a fun slogan to get people and agency partners to remember your brand. It’s a promise from your company. Creating a catchy slogan, yes, is one way you could share a USP with your audience, but that’s not the only place and time for it. The USP is an adaptable statement you can use anywhere in your marketing and sales plan, from your advertisements to your return policy.
Image via Shopify
Customers have to make a decision before they make any purchase. Even if it’s something they buy all the time. They consciously put their time, trust, and money into one brand, product, or service over another. As a marketer, it’s a large part of your job to make sure that they pick yours. Creating a unique selling proposition makes it easier for your team to show people why your product or service is the obvious choice. It also makes it easier for the customer, potential client, or qualified sales lead to see why they can feel good and comfortable about going with your brand.
Having an effective USP makes a lasting impression on the customer. When you promise something and then deliver it, that builds trust. This can help with brand loyalty and customer and client retention. It can also lead to endorsements and recommendations from those satisfied customers when they tell friends and family about your product. You may also increase your agency portfolio if current clients speak to their network about what you’ve been able to do for their brand.
Use these steps to help write your unique selling proposition:
What makes you different from your competitors? This is the fundamental question to ask when you’re trying to develop a USP. Why, out of five or 10 other products that sit on the same shelves or services that compete for the same paid advertising space as yours, should somebody choose you? What is so special about yours that they miss out if they pick anything else?
Make a list of your top competitors. Then go out to their websites, social media profiles, and eCommerce stores and see what they offer and how they’re marketing their products. Look for gaps in what they’re doing or how their products and services might not meet customer needs. Browse product reviews and questions in the comments to see if there are things the audience wants to know or wants their products and services to do.
If you want to get even more insights about the competition to create a stronger marketing strategy, use CopyPress’s content analysis tool. It shows you data about how your content marketing stacks up against three of your top competitors. It also identifies gaps in your keyword strategy to better target the things your audience is looking for to provide the answers they need.
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After asking the primary question and doing your research, make a list of all the things that can separate your brand from the competition. Be specific. List items can include a sub-niche that you may target, how you make your products, or your shipping policies. It can include features that others don’t have, purchase locations, or other benefits that come from using your company. You can use this list to compare what you do well with what your customers want.
Compare your list of all the things your company, product, or service does differently to those customer questions and concerns you collected from your research. Which ones are most prevalent, and which ones can you meet and show how you meet them? Is there anything that the audience hasn’t talked about but that you do that fits within their niche market, something they haven’t seen before? Consider picking your top two or three points around which you can frame the USP that may make it most valuable to your customers and clients.
Once you’ve identified what you’re trying to sell, work with your team to draft your USP. You may make a few drafts with different wording, or even with different propositions to see which one you like best. If you’re struggling to come up with a USP, consider using a template like:
You can, of course, change the wording, but a template may help you get started. To provide even more value to the USP, consider adding another line like:
An example USP following this template may look like this:
This template won’t have the exact wording of how you incorporate your USP onto your website or in your copy. But it can help you think about different ways to add the proposition to your materials.
Use these tips to help create a better USP for your product or service:
Why do people buy what they buy? That’s a fantastic question for the field of consumer science or consumer psychology. Consumer science is the practice of learning how and why customers make certain choices when they shop and what preferences contribute to them. Learning the influences of things like word and color choice, bias from demographic factors, or the effectiveness of emotional response can help you decide if any of these things could work for or against your USP.
If you’re struggling to figure out just what your customers want from their products and services, it’s necessary to create buyer personas. A persona is a fictional character that represents your best target customers. Like writing a story or developing a TV show, you assign unique attributes to your personas—their goals, experiences, and demographics.
This helps you get to know your primary audience members better and understand their motivations behind why they shop and why they choose specific products or services. Creating personas can help you figure out what your audience wants or needs most from your brand and what techniques can help you sell it to them.
Related: What Is a Persona?
The price point isn’t the only reason customers choose one product over another. Sometimes price makes the biggest difference when you don’t have a USP because there’s no way for a customer to see how or why your product differs from another. Try to focus on characteristics of your product or service, or another value that your company provides to the audience beyond money.
Brand voice is the tone and style you take when communicating with your audience. Some brand voices are funny, others are serious. You can use this brand voice when communicating your USP. Make it personal. Make it sound like it comes from your company. The USP isn’t just a line to sell something, it’s an extension of everything you provide. Make it sound that way.
If you’re struggling to figure out how to shape your USP in your brand voice, imagine you’re talking to a customer on a sales call. What would you say to them in that conversation? Or how would you write the USP as a social media post for your channels? It doesn’t have to be super formal, it just has to tell the truth from your company’s point of view.
While a USP doesn’t have to be a slogan or a tagline, you may often see them presented this way for brevity. By nature, slogans are short and direct. This can be helpful for your USP so that people understand exactly what you do and why it should matter to them in the shortest amount of time. You’re not only competing for sales but also for the attention of the people, especially online. Being clear and concise in your messaging can help you capture that.
Here is a list of examples of good USPs in different markets:
Proposition: “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.”
Written as a slogan, Saddleback Leather’s USP plays on the company’s 100-year warranty. It conveys the message that its products can likely outlive and outlast their owners. The USP also showcases the company’s crass, straightforward, and darkly humorous brand voice, reminiscent of the wild, wild west.
Proposition: “World’s Strongest Coffee”
Death Wish Coffee is another company with a dark sense of humor. Just look at the name. But its USP doesn’t focus on the brand name, but on what the product provides. By claiming to be the “world’s strongest coffee,” the company reaches for a niche market of people who don’t want something that tastes like a cinnamon roll in a cup. Death Wish backs up the claim by offering full refunds to customers if it isn’t the strongest coffee they’ve ever had.
Proposition: “Fake tattoos by real artists”
Tattly takes what used to be fun about temporary tattoos as a kid and upgrades them for adults. While the designs are still fun, colorful, and temporary, what makes them unique is that the designs come from actual artists. Just like you’d get if you went to a tattoo parlor for the real thing. The company reinforces its proposition by showcasing the artists on its website, strengthening the belief of selling wearable art, not just a cheap street fair prize.
Proposition: “Your marine scientist-backed ritual for healthier skin and hair.”
Miami Beach Bum actually has a few USPs going on for different ways to appeal to sub-segments of the same niche market. As a marine biologist, the founder developed skin conditions from constantly wearing wet clothing for work, but couldn’t find a non-chemical or environmentally friendly solution that worked. Playing on the ideas of earth-friendly and scientist-backed, the company upholds the proposition by making each product work with the skin’s natural ecosystem of microorganisms and without harsh chemicals that can harm both your body and the environment.
Proposition: “Know your factories. Know your costs. Always ask why.”
Everlane Apparel frames its USP around a core company value, what it calls “radical transparency.” In effect, this just means being open about the entire development, creation, and shipping process that most consumers may not consider. It appeals to diligent and concerned citizens, and maybe conspiracy theorists too, that do question everything, especially the creation and delivery methods for the products they buy.
A USP is more than just a persuasive line in your copy. It’s a way to make sure your audience knows why your brand, products, or services outperform the competition. If you’re ready to take that USP to the next level with your content creation strategy, start a free call with CopyPress. We help you work it into pieces like product descriptions and blog posts to get your message out to the right people at the right times.
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