The Unique Selling Proposition, or Unique Selling Point or Unique Selling Position Statement or simply USP, is the factor or benefit that makes your product different from (and better than) other equivalent products on the market. Identifying your USP takes quite a bit of time and research, but without it you’ll be selling just another commodity.
Time Required: Hours
- Industry Research. Before you can discover what makes your product unique, you’ll need to know what else is available for your prospective customers. That means doing in-depth analysis of each one of your competitors. What products exist that can fill the same needs as your product? What selling points do these competitors promote? Review their marketing materials, especially websites. Look at independent review organizations for your industry to see what these analysts have to say. And try out as many competing products as you can to get a feel for how they work.
- Prospect Research. What do people who already own a product from your industry have to say? Quite a lot, usually. If you’re selling B2C products and services, then customer reviews online can be a goldmine of feedback. These comments don’t just talk about the product’s good and bad points, but also service issues like delivery costs, bad tech support experiences and billing complications. Search for reviews of your competitors’ products as well as your own. If you see a particular feature or problem mentioned frequently for a given product, write it down. This will give you an excellent feel for what the marketplace thinks about these products.
- Customer Research. Existing customers are a terrific source of information. Start out by getting in touch with your ‘best’ customers and ask them if they can spend a few minutes giving you feedback on the products they own. Use this information to pull together a brief survey and mail or email it to the rest of your customers. If you can, offer an incentive for them to fill out and return the survey – anything from a $5 gift card to a coupon for their next purchase.
- Product Research. By now you should have a pretty good feel for the competition. You know what products are out there and how well they stack up. It’s time to look more closely at your own product. In what areas are your customers most satisfied with your products? What are your product’s most glaring weaknesses? If you haven’t used your own product recently, try it now and see how your own experience matches with what you’ve heard from your customers.
- Analysis. You’ve pulled together quite a lot of information by now. It’s time to review the facts and come up with some conclusions. Compare your list of product strengths and weaknesses to the information you have on your competitors’ products. Are there areas where your product is stronger than most or all of the competing products? How about areas where your products is significantly weaker than comparable products?
- Conclusion. The moment of truth comes when you settle on one single area of strength and turn that into a USP. This must be a quality that is important to your customers. If you’re proud of offering your product in 50 subtly different shades of green but your customers can’t tell the difference, that’s not a good choice for your USP. Ideally, your choice should also be a feature or quality that will be both memorable and difficult for someone else to copy.
- Distribution. Once you’ve picked your USP it’s time to share it with your prospects. If you use Powerpoint slides in your presentation, add a tagline about your USP and include it on at least the first and last slides. Add the same tagline to your email signature and (if you use them) social media marketing accounts. And work your USP prominently into both your cold call patter and your main sales pitch.