How to find your own Unique Selling Proposition

July 8, 2024

If you’ve read any books on marketing, you will have heard of the concept of a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). It is one of the most important elements in your sales mes­sage. It will influence your headline, and every other word you write on your website.

To develop your USP, you need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask the ques­tion:

“Why should I do business with you rather than anyone else in your marketplace?”

When you have a great answer to that question, you can really push sales through the roof.

One of the most often quoted examples of a winning USP is that of Domino’s Pizza in the United States.

Domino’s magical USP was this:

“Fresh Hot Pizza Delivered In 30 Minutes Or Less Guaranteed!”

On the strength of that unique selling proposition, the founder of Domino’s, Tom Mona­ghan took a crummy little pizza joint and built the multi-million dollar Dominos empire.

The secret to creating a winning USP

There are two key aspects to developing a powerful Unique Selling Proposition.

First, think about all the bad things that competitors in your marketplace do, which cus­tomers complain about. These are things that you can turn to your advantage if you can say that you don’t do them.

Second, think about the strengths that your business has, which set it apart from your competitors.

You need to think beyond the obvious features, such as customer service, the quality of your products, lowest price etc.

Every service business claims they provide outstanding customer service. Everyone says their products are the best.

Yeah, right!

Which brings us back to Tui’s Brewery. It has one of the most effective and memorable USP’s in New Zealand at present, with its ‘Yeah right’ ads.

The message is, in a world where you can’t trust much else, Tui’s is the real deal.

Actually, Tui’s have come up with not just one but two memorable USP’s.

Another New Zealand company which has developed a great USP is House of Travel. It’s not as light-hearted as Tui’s, but just as effective in its own market.

‘How Kiwis see the World’.

Xero also has a winning USP:

‘The world’s easiest accounting system’

Mitre 10 Mega has come up with a memorable and successful USP, too:

‘Best range, lowest prices, end of story’

Base your USP around BENEFITS

You may think the reason you are in business is to sell your products (or services) and make money. But that’s not how your customers see it. As far as your customers are con­cerned, the reason you are in business is to solve their problems.

I’ll repeat that, so it sinks in. You are in business to solve people’s problems!

Solving problems is the only reason people buy. If you have done your market research, you should have identified the problems and frustrations your prospects want to solve. Now here’s the second part… working out exactly how your product solves them.

Your website copy needs to be “salesmanship in print’

Think of your website as another member of your sales team. Instead of meeting with prospects face-to-face, or on the phone, your website engages them by the written word.

So, the words on your website need to be the words of a top salesperson. In writing your website, you need to follow the same strategy that all successful sales people do.

First, successful sales people acquaint themselves with every feature and benefit their products have to offer, so they know exactly how to solve their prospects’ problems. They can match their product’s benefits to their prospects’ problems only because they have an intricate knowledge of both. You should do the same on your website.

Start by examining your product (or service) in depth. Make a list of every feature your product has. Now go through each feature and turn them into benefits.

Use the “So What” test

The ‘So What’ technique is extremely powerful. It allows you to quickly and easily generate a huge amount of benefits from each feature.

It works like this. Start by writing your product feature on a piece of paper. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and then ask yourself: “So What?” Keep answering this question until it’s impossible to ask it anymore.

Here’s an example…

Let’s say you run a convenience store (or a chain of convenience stores) that is open 24 hours a day.

You could say: ‘We’re open 24 hours’.

And your customer asks: ‘So what?”

You reply: “When your pregnant wife craves pickles and ice cream at 4 am, you won’t have to disappoint her.”

See how turning it into a benefit packs so much more marketing punch!

This difference between features and benefits is probably nothing new to you if you have read any marketing books in the past. It’s Marketing 101 and you’ll find it in pretty much every marketing book.

The realty is though, as critical as the concept may be, 90% of small business owners still struggle to understand the difference. And that’s one of the main reasons most small-busi­ness marketing efforts don’t work!

I’ve found this time and again when working with clients. They are great at telling me the features of their product. They know them intimately. But they struggle to turn these fea­tures into benefits that will entice people to buy.

Most small business owners assume that prospects will understand the benefits of the product or service after reading about its features. But that’s not true. You have to spell out the benefits. Loud and clear! Otherwise, most of your prospects won’t get the message.

Above all, know your customers!

Some people think that copywriting is all about using magic persuasion techniques and special words that work subliminally to make people take action.

Yes, there is an element of truth in this. But it’s relatively minor and you don’t need any of these techniques to be successful at selling online.

The bottom line is, you need to really know your market, and your prospective customer. You need to know the problems and emotions that your prospective customer is feeling.

Copywriting is about WHAT you say, rather than how you say it

When I am writing sales copy for a website, I will try to talk to the company’s top sales people. They will usually say they are no good at writing. But these top-performing sales people are always good at TALKING! And once you get them talking about the benefits of their product (or service) and turn on a voice recorder, you’ll get a wealth of relevant information for your website.

The great thing about this approach of interviewing top sales people is that you’ll get real gems dropped casually into the conversation. A recording of such a conversation can form the basis of some really powerful sales copy.