During the holiday season, we are bombarded with advertisements, sales, and deals. It can be overwhelming and just plain annoying. This year (2019), I received a staggering 238 emails about Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone.
As a copywriter, I usually read every email to see what other companies are doing; however, this influx of emails beat me.
All that being said, there’s a lot of noise. And you have to do something different if you want to stand out from the crowd. Cue today’s topic… You need to start building a unique selling proposition.
First, what is a unique selling proposition?
What is a Unique Selling Proposition?
A unique selling proposition or USP is a statement of what makes your business unique and ultimately valuable to your prospective customer or target audience. Essentially, it answers the questions… How are you better than your competition? Or Why should the customer choose you over your competition?
This is the secret weapon that a lot of marketing strategies forget about or don’t spend enough time on.
Think of building a unique selling proposition as laying the foundation for your entire business.
Unique Selling Proposition vs Value Proposition
Before we go any further, let’s clear up a few things when it comes to the difference between a unique selling proposition vs value proposition.
A value proposition describes what your company is offering, to whom you are offering it to, and how it solves your customer’s problem. For example, you can use the following framework to build your value proposition.
We sell [your product or service] to [your customer] to solve [their problem]. We solve this problem by [your solution with the big differentiators].
In comparison, a unique selling proposition is a statement that explains how your product or service uniquely solves your customer’s needs. It is a specific statement that can vary slightly between landing pages, offers, and promotions. It is meant to “move the masses” because it is uniquely better than the competition.
Although the USP isn’t necessarily “copy”, we do use it as a framework to base our copy around.
Components of a Unique Selling Proposition
Take your target audience, figure out their big problem, explain how you solve their problem, highlight the big benefits of your solution, and finally define your promise. You’ll want to combine all of that, rework it, and turn it into an easy-to-digest proposition.
You can use the following framework to build your USP.
Our [company / product / service] is the only one that helps [your customer] solve [their specific problem] by [unique promise or benefit].
Where To Use Your Unique Selling Proposition
Before you start building a unique selling proposition (USP), it’s important to know where and when you can use the USP. Copywriters use USPs on each advertisement, promotion, or sales letter. In short, your USP is the reason why the customer needs to buy the product or service for a very specific benefit. It helps the copywriter keep focused on that benefit as they are writing the copy.
Although the USP isn’t necessarily “copy”, we do use it as a framework to base our copy around. As a result, you will see a lot of USPs in the headlines or at least the first few lines of copy.
Examples of Well-Executed USPs
Here are a couple examples of well-executed USPs.
You thought they only sold shoes! TOMS has been a long standing, philanthropic company that believes in One for One®. Their roasting company is no exception. Their USP is that in return for your coffee purchase, they provide safe water. Can you name another company that is doing that? It’s unique and admirable.
Away luggage creates suitcases and other travel products. This USP doesn’t directly talk about what they do in addition to creating these products – “building peace in areas of conflict around the world”. But they are unique in that they see travel as something greater.
“One app to replace them all.” It’s unique. It’s a huge selling point because if you’re anything like me, you are trying to simplify how you work – and consequently, the number of apps you use.
Steps to Building a Unique Selling Proposition
Building a unique selling proposition (USP) may not be easy. It needs to be strong enough to influence a large number of people, but specific enough to be consumed in one bite. It’s the framework for an entire piece of copy. In this blog, we’ve broken down the steps to help you get started.
1. Who Is Your Target Audience?
This is always always always our number 1 question… Who is the customer or your target audience? If you don’t know that, then you need to figure it out.
Remember, there is no business without a customer. It’s imperative that you do not skip this step.
For a wellness coach, it could be a college student that is experiencing new pain and wants to find a solution.
For a corporate event planner, it could be a real estate broker that sells luxury condos and wants to woo his clients.
Whoever it is, know who that person is. It will not be everyone, and that’s totally okay. You can scale later.
2. What Is Their Problem?
Now that you know who they are, it’s time to assess what their big problem is. What is the one thing that they are missing or gripe about?
For example, a real estate brokerage firm targets first time homeowners. New home buyer’s big pain points are that they have no home buying experience and fear they may invest in a bad property. That fear is crippling, so they don’t buy at the right time or at all.
3. How Does Your Product / Service Solve Their Problem?
Next, assess how your product or service solves that problem. In the same example above, a real estate brokerage firm could have a program specifically tailored to educating first time home buyers.
What features and benefits help you solve that problem?
4. How Are You Unique?
The key of a USP is the unique aspect. Your competition must not offer the same benefits as you because you’re… Unique! Why are you different? How are you special? These questions are helpful when defining your uniqueness.
5. Combine Those Answers In An Easy-To-Digest Sentence
You may be thinking… How am I going to combine all of this into one sentence? You’re killing me, Lauren. Okay, I get it. I said that too when I developed my first USP. But the big reason why you need an easy-to-digest sentence is because you want anyone in your company to immediately recite it without tripping over words.
Employees Need to Memorize the USP
You also want your customers and prospective customers to buy-in quickly and even memorize it themselves.
Customers Need to Memorize the USP
Think about it this way… Your customer isn’t that valuable to you unless they’ve bought from you two, three, four, or more times. Right? The more they buy from you, the more valuable they are to you because your customer acquisition costs are decreasing.
The relationship goal all companies want to reach is when your customers are advocating for you and eventually promoting your product or service. This is GOLD. Your customer, when they reach this stage, are your free promoters. PLUS their network are more likely to buy from your company because they trust that person.
That’s why it has to be digestible and memorable.
Conclusion Building a Unique Selling Proposition
Every company has a unique selling proposition – whether they have defined it yet or not. If you need help building your unique selling proposition, we just released a 1-hour Brainstorm Session that includes an entire action plan based on our conversation. And it’s completely customizable. Take advantage of this offer here.