Measure your business’s unique selling proposition

Let’s start off the new year with a very basic marketing question — what is your USP?

Let’s start off the new year with a very basic marketing question — what is your USP?

Whether you don’t know or you do, now is a good time to either develop one or review the one you have to make sure you are still on track.

Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is the one thing that differentiates you from the competition. In today’s highly competitive business environment, it is imperative that you position yourself as being unique by providing a product or service that nobody else can offer.

This is fairly basic but one of the most harmful marketing mistakes many companies make is to not clearly define, articulate and communicate their USP.

Your USP should be the one tool that drives your business. It is the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else and helps build a good reputation in the community so that people view you as the best choice for your product or service.

While the concept of the unique selling proposition was developed more than 60 years ago by Rosser Reeves, it has been adapted and modified to fit in with today’s marketing strategies.

In his book Reality in Advertising, Reeves provides a three-part definition that was first used to explain why some ad campaigns worked better than others. You can see, with modifications, how it has been adapted to fit today’s marketing needs.

1 — 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.”

2 — The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique — either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.

3 — The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions; pulling over new customers to your product.

Here’s a few basic steps you can take to help develop your own USP.

First of all you need to be able to define your target audience. Who are the best prospects who will buy your products or services?

Your next step is to clearly outline what benefits you have to offer by focusing on what makes you distinct and sets you apart from the competition.

Again thinking of your customer, what need can you satisfy, what problem can you solve, how can you make their life easier or improve their business performance. Now you need to articulate how you are going to deliver these benefits and most importantly back them up with a promise or guarantee.

At this point in time you should have a long list of benefits and really good reasons why people should do business with you. The biggest challenge now is to simplify by selecting the most compelling reasons and combine them into one paragraph.

You are not finished yet because you now have to take that one paragraph and turn it into one sentence. You want your USP to be as simple and specific as possible. You also want people to be able to recognize you right away when they see or hear your USP.

By developing a powerful and memorable USP you will be able to integrate it with all your marketing materials such as print advertising, flyers, brochures, sales presentation scripts, website and Internet marketing efforts even business cards and letterhead.

Having and using a USP will give you an edge and can help you dramatically improve the positioning and marketability of your business.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist.

He can be reached via e-mail at

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