What Is A Unique Selling Proposition And Why It Matters In Business

A unique selling proposition (USP) enables a business to differentiate itself from its competitors. Importantly, a USP enables a business to stand for something that they, in turn, become known among consumers. A strong and recognizable USP is crucial to operating successfully in competitive markets.

Understanding a unique selling proposition

A unique selling proposition allows a business to stand for something specific that they become known for among their consumers. 

This is in direct contract to businesses that stand for nothing in particular. They take a generalist approach to marketing and product development and thus do not allow a point of difference to develop in the market. In attempting to become known for everything, they become known for nothing.

A strong USP which encompasses a specific consumer benefit has the ability to:

  • Attract (and retain) new customers, reducing customer churn rate.
  • Build customer loyalty.
  • Reduce costs associated with customer acquisition.
  • Focus core marketing strategy and subsequent messaging, branding, and copywriting.

Elements of a strong USP

If nothing else, a USP must answer the question that every consumer has when encountering a business: what makes this business different from the competition?

It’s important to note that simply being unique is not a valid characteristic in itself. The point of difference must target something that resonates with the target audience. The USP must also be bold and assertive in its point of difference, informing consumers that the business has the confidence to stand behind its brand

Lastly, the unique selling proposition should be more than just a slogan. Often, slogans are catchphrases whose benefits are vague and hard to put into practice. If a business must use a slogan, then it should ensure that every aspect of the business operation can embody its message in reality.

Read: Marketing Strategy: Definition, Types, And Examples

Examples of successful unique selling propositions

Death Wish Coffee

There is no shortage of competition among coffee merchants. However, Death Wish Coffee has managed to make a mark in this industry with their claim of selling the world’s strongest coffee.

Death Wish Coffee backs up their claim by showing how their coffee is made and where it is sourced from. But they also offer dissatisfied customers a full refund. In this way, the success of the company is directly tied to its ability to deliver on its USP. Importantly, the business embodies this USP through every aspect of their branding and marketing strategies.

Voodoo Doughnut

A similarly competitive market can be seen in selling donuts. Boston donut business Voodoo Doughnut has created a unique selling proposition through a diverse and varied menu. The company’s USP is further strengthened by its vintage pink décor and late-night opening hours.

While two varieties of donut that contained cold and flu medication attracted attention from the Food and Drug Administration, the overall exposure to the Voodoo Doughnut brand was beneficial. 

Key takeaways:

  • A unique selling proposition defines what a business stands for in relation to its competitors. The point of differentiation must involve benefits the consumer can identify with.
  • A strong and compelling USP resonates with the target audience by selling benefits and is an accurate representation of how an organization does business.
  • Confident, bold, and assertive unique selling propositions sometimes allow businesses to penetrate extremely competitive markets.

Connected Business Concepts

Value Proposition

A value proposition is about how you create value for customers. While many entrepreneurial theories draw from customers’ problems and pain points, value can also be created via demand generation, which is about enabling people to identify with your brand, thus generating demand for your products and services.

Competitive Advantage

According to Michael Porter, a competitive advantage, in a given industry could be pursued in two key ways: low cost (cost leadership), or differentiation. A third generic strategy is focus. According to Porter a failure to do so would end up stuck in the middle scenario, where the company will not retain a long-term competitive advantage.

Economic Moat

Economic or market moats represent the long-term business defensibility. Or how long a business can retain its competitive advantage in the marketplace over the years. Warren Buffet who popularized the term “moat” referred to it as a share of mind, opposite to market share, as such it is the characteristic that all valuable brands have.

Brand Promise

A brand promise is usually one or two sentences that accurately communicates what a consumer should expect when interacting with a brand. When a business creates a brand promise, it is making a declaration of assurance. Brand promises are often seen as extensions of brand positioning statements that explain why a business exists. A brand promise then tells the consumer how a product is service is better than those of a competitor.

Brand Voice

The brand voice describes how a brand communicates with its target audience. The exact style of communication is based on the brand persona or the collection of personality traits and values that a brand embodies regularly, and it needs to communicate the brand’s essence to the desired target audience.

Mission Statement

A mission statement helps an organization to define its purpose in the now and communicate it to its stakeholders. That is why a good mission statement has to be concise, clear to able to articulate what’s unique about an organization, thus building trust and rapport with an audience.

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