How to Create a Unique Selling Proposition
By Lanre Elufisan
It is a harsh reality today that businesses need to differentiate or they die. It is called Unique selling proposition. Recently, I published an article titled ‘A Simple Way to Understand Branding‘, where I define branding as a mark of difference. As I put it, branding is first about creating a unique value proposition, let’s keep it short as USP. However, you choose to call it, branding is about being rightly different. It is owning a position of relevant differentiation in the marketplace. It is being perceived as different from your competitors. As Theodore Levitt, author, and professor at Harvard Business School says: “differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage”.
Why does your business need to be different? Well, the reason is simple, the marketplace today is so highly commoditized with thousands of businesses dealing in similar items or services as you. In such case, it is, therefore, essential that your brand identifies and create its unique selling proposition or it will get drowned by the competition. Simply stated, a Unique Selling Proposition is a summary of what makes your business unique and valuable to your target market. In fact, the question that your USP should answer is: Why should your potential customer, or client, choose to do business with you above all other options that are available to them?
You really need a good answer to that.
Keep in mind that a USP is not a slogan. Although it could double as a slogan, but a unique selling proposition must be benefit-oriented to the end user. Let me tell you a short story I once read about the creation of Domino’s Pizza, it was said that James and Tom Monaghan started the company not because it wanted to be the best pizza maker but because they identified ‘hungry’ college students who needed fast food as the target market and positioned the brand by promising quick delivery or money back guaranteed. Apparently, it has become one of the world’s top pizza chains. Identifying its customer target helped Domino’s create its classic USP “Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less—or it’s free”. This is a great USP model to learn from. Except if your business is one of a kind or a global monopoly of some sort – like the sun, if you are the only heat radiating element from the sky – then it won’t matter.
Otherwise, a unique selling proposition boosts your competitive advantage. If you are an event planner, how are you different? What makes you unique as a fashion designer or jeweler? Let us consider some important questions to answer before you create a Unique Selling Proposition for your business.
First, Who is your target market? who exactly are you selling to? Trust me, it can’t be everyone. What do you do better than other business in your category? Here you need to think hard, if you say nothing, that’s probably not good. Your business needs to have a higher purpose. How does what you do greatly benefit your target market? This is what your customers buy, the emotional component. Can you offer a great guarantee? Avert the risk, because your customers want to feel safe. What’s the biggest promise that you can make and is it believable? Like Domino’s, can you say it can be delivered in 30 minutes or its free? Make a big promise. Remember, it’s all about you being different. What is your customers’ experience? This is the overall benefit of doing business with you, it borders around your customer’s satisfaction.
In a world of too many options, you don’t want your business to die, do you? As MIT Professor, Cal Newport said in his study on the Superstar Effect, ‘most of the time, it’s not enough to be better. You need to be different.’ As a business owner, would you rather differentiate or cease to exist?
You can ask me anything about creating a USP, I am willing to help you through the process.