Know your Company’s Unique Selling Proposition

Many think it stands for Unique Selling Point but a single point is not powerful enough to attract new customers or clients. A USP must make a clear and appealing offer to your target audience.

The concept of the USP was developed by Rosser Reeves while working for the Ted Bates agency. Ted Bates was a popular American marketing agency which produced adverts for big brands such as Colgate, Bic Pens, M&Ms etc. Reeves created the well-known USP for Minstrels (M&Ms in the U.S.)- “chocolate that melts in your mouth, not in your hand”.

Reeves first outlined this concept in his 1961 book, Reality in Advertising.  He defined a Unique Selling Proposition as having three attributes:

  1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer.  Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising.  Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.”
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product.

Let’s examine each of these attributes in turn.

Promise a Specific Benefit

This is a key and usually missing part of a businesses’ USP. You must make the benefit of buying your product or using your service clear. People and companies buy products and services solely for what they do for them. They want to know how it will improve their lives. This is usually by taking away a pain or giving them a gain.

For many business owners, key benefits are centred around time and money. If you can free up their time so they can focus on growing their business or spending more time with the family, on the golf course or on holiday, then this will appeal. Benefits that help them to increase their sales or profitability also appeal.

With consumers, there are a wide range of potential benefits including more time, more money, more fun, ease of use, convenience etc.

In both cases, emotional benefits are key. For example, business owners want to feel confident in the ideas and recommendations they receive from their professional advisors. Consumers buy sports cars and designer products to boost their confidence, image and appeal.

It is important that you work out the key benefit of your product or service.

It MUST be Unique

Your proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. it does not necessarily need to be unique in the world.  For example, you may own the only cheese shop in Tunbridge Wells.  Yes, cheese shops exist in other cities but to your target market (i.e. people living in Tunbridge Wells) this would make you unique.  The benefit you offer could be expressed as the widest range of cheeses in the area with expert advice on matching them with dinner party menus and wine.

Many companies believe they cannot make their offering unique. As we will see below, with a little thought, you can.

Appeal

While you are probably not looking to attract the mass millions, your USP must be appealing. It must be appealing enough to motivate your target market to buy from you.

Why should someone buy from you when they could continue with their existing supplier, get it cheaper elsewhere, use a company closer to home, do nothing etc.?  Your USP is the reason they should choose your business. It differentiates you from your competitors.  Given that most products and services are similar to those offered by others, this is an important point. 

So where do you start? Your USP should be based on one of the below. Your choice depends on your strengths.

  1. Quality/ Results
  2. Price
  3. Service
  4. Delivery
  5. Speed
  6. Convenience
  7. Buying experience
  8. Client experience

It is notable that many companies say their product or service is not unique. Every business can offer a unique buying or client experience. For example, a law firm in the West Midlands offers a unique client experience. Their reception has a coffee bar and a full-time barista which offers an experience and quality of coffee very different to the receptionist making you a drink in the kitchen.

If you want some support with growing your business, then Naylor Accountancy Services is here to help you. You are invited to contact us at accounts@nayloraccountancy.com or call us at 44 (0) 1892 807 001.