Differentiating your brand in a global market where businesses compete for a piece of the pie can be a daunting task.
For SMBs, who often feel their competitors seem to be selling approximately the same services/products, your unique selling proposition (USP) becomes more important as a way to stand out, and build a reputation based on a “special” difference.
As the owner of a marketing agency focused on helping small and mid-sized businesses succeed through strategic planning, I’d like to share some of the branding knowledge, specific to creating a successful USP, that I have gained over the years.
These steps will lay the groundwork that you need to help you make the most of your marketing and business planning activities.
Before we begin, let me clarify the term USP. A USP is a summary of what makes your business unique and valuable to your target market. It answers the question: How do your business services/products benefit your clients better than anyone else’s?
Step 1: Analyze Your Competitors
Look at how other companies use their USPs to their advantage. Analyze other companies’ ads and marketing messages. If you analyze what they say they sell, and not just their product or service characteristics, you can learn a great deal about how companies distinguish themselves from their competitors.
Step 2: Solve a Problem
Armed with the knowledge of how your competitors distinguish themselves,now you can clearly identify what sets you apart. This step involves looking at your business from your prospective clients’ or customers’ perspective, to identify what the problem, need or challenge is that they face, and then outlining how your service/product can solve it for them.
Step 3: Big Benefits
Now that you have identified how your business solves a problem, list a few of the biggest benefits of working with you. Explain why your services are important to your customer, and why they should choose you over another provider.
Step 4: Your Target Audience
This is a trickier step than you might think, as your target audience is NOT simply everyone who buys your product/service. Since we all enjoy a good fishing analogy, here’s one as it relates to USPs: If you want to catch salmon, then you need to use a specific fishing net. Otherwise, if you try to catch salmon using a huge net, although you may catch a few salmon, you are more likely to catch trout, sturgeons and tench. Think about what you’ve identified in steps 1 to 3, and then be as specific as you can when identifying your target audience for your service/product.
Step 5: The Pledge
A big part of a successful USP is making a pledge to your clients. This is a promise of sorts, which clearly states the type of promise or guarantee that you will provide to your clients. This could be a statement that you can either publicize or simply keep internally. Either way, it is a statement of your commitment to your USP. For example, in Toronto, we have a pizza delivery service that promises to deliver your pizza in 30 minutes, or it is free. This promise speaks volumes to customers about the type of commitment they are making to their customers, and the value they place on customer service.
Using specifics to identify what makes your business unique and valuable to your target audience is unquestionably one of the most important and valuable processes your business will ever undertake. When you can clearly state how your business services/products benefit your clients better than anyone else’s, then you are well-positioned to differentiate your brand and develop strategies for business growth.
Do you have a USP? If not, do you have any questions about how to create one? Is your USP incorporated into all of your marketing activities? Let me know in the comments below.