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 every consumer’s question 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.
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.
Unique selling proposition vs. value proposition
Where the unique selling proposition is primarily customer-facing.
Thus, it serves the purpose of signaling to your customers how your brand differs from all the others.
The value proposition is more internally focused. Where it does translate into the way final customers perceive your product, but as a side effect of how the value proposition is ingrained into your business model.
Indeed, the value proposition informs how the product should be developed, launched, and distributed.
And as a result, how customers should perceive it.
Where the unique selling proposition looks at differentiating the product in the eyes of the customer.
So really putting into a more clear message targeting your audience about what the company stands for.
- 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.
Related Business Concepts
Palantir Acquire, Expand, Scale Framework
Read: product development frameworks here.
Read Next: SWOT Analysis, Personal SWOT Analysis, TOWS Matrix, PESTEL Analysis, Porter’s Five Forces, TOWS Matrix, SOAR Analysis.
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