The term ‘Unique Selling Point’ (USP) was first coined in the 1940s, and first defined in print by advertising executive Rosser Reeves in 1961.
Reeves, concerned that advertising was losing sight of its purpose, stated:
“Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: 'Buy this product and you will get this specific benefit."
A good current example of a clear USP is the well-known brand Head & Shoulders’ "You get rid of dandruff."
Other propositions that were pioneers when first introduced include:
Domino's Pizza: "You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less – or its free”
FedEx: "When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight"
M&M's: "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand"
Wonder Bread: "Helps Build Strong Bodies 12 Ways"
A USP isn’t a nice to have, it's a must. Without it, your business runs the risk of: getting lost in the crowd; not being able to attract the target clientele, who might be using another product and has no incentive to switch; or getting caught in a price war, since that’s the only differentiator.
Now that we’ve covered the background and importance of a USP, let’s go ahead and cover the various aspects of creating one that’s successful.
First things first, you need to get into your customers’ heads. Ideally the primary reason you ‘re in business is to help solve your clients’ challenges and meet their values within your service/product.
Don't just pick a factor about your product that seems strong to you. Do your research properly. Find out what criteria customers use to compare products against one another.
The USP outlines what’s different compared to major competitors and the market place. Thus, you can take a range of variables and produce a table to find out where you are better or worse than competitors.
Variables such as speed, size, convenience, safety, style or ease of use are ones which should be considered in your design. Price is not a key ingredient.
You need to position your product, not just against the customers’ needs, but also against competing products. Words such as better, faster, stronger (etc.) can be used within your USP to create a more compelling angle.
Consumers are sceptical of claims companies make - especially in the information age. Alleviate their scepticism by being specific and offering proof when possible.
Clear and concise
Your USP needs to be clear and concise. The most powerful USPs are perfectly written.
Deliver on your promise
Your USP should have promises and guarantees that capture your audience's attention. Having said that, it should be one that you can deliver on.
Using a powerful USP is the driving force that builds your business success. Use it to optimise your marketing materials for maximum results.
Alex Pirouz is the founder of RIDC Advisory Pty Ltd. A Business and Sales Advisory firm partnering with the top 1% of Australia’s largest and fastest growing companies to further increase their sales revenue. (Visit www.ridc.com.au for more details)