USP - UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION

A business model to find out the unique selling point of a product or service

The idea of the USP was introduced by Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company in the US in 1940. Reeves believed that the purpose of advertising is to sell. Towards this end, he developed television commercials that featured the unique selling proposition of the product. This was typified in an advert he designed for Anacin, an analgesic for headaches. The ad lasted for seven years, grated and annoyed most viewers, and was successful in tripling the product’s sales

A unique selling proposition (USP) is, as the term suggests, the point about your product that makes it stand out. Even though competitive products might also  contain the same feature, if they haven’t made it their “high ground”, it is open for you to do just that. Of course, it helps if this feature is something that your competitors cannot offer and it is something that your customers really want.

 

A unique product gives a company a distinct advantage, especially if it is desirable.  Companies that have unique products may be able to patent and protect them and preserve this big advantage. Most companies have to compete against competitors that have quite similar offerings. This does not mean to say that they cannot find something that stands out as their own “high ground”. Finding a USP can be difficult.  To do so it is necessary to look at the target audience, the customer value proposition, the competitive situation, and the processes by which the product is made.  

A USP is a very powerful advertising message.  For many years BMW touted their cars as "The ultimate driving machine".  Whether they are the ultimate driving machines doesn't matter.  They are great cars and they are great to drive and they made the assertion their high ground. 

Over the last 50 years Coca-Cola have from time to time used the word "real" as their USP. "It's the real thing", "Coca-Cola...real", "America's real choice", "Make it real". By using the word real as its USP Coca-Cola is communicating it was the first, the original cola drink and all others are copies and therefore not as good.

Developing a USP is not necessarily about finding something at which you are the best. Somewhere another company may be able to do it better. Developing a USP is about finding something that matters to customers and that no one else has made their forte. As long as you are able to defend your ability to provide the USP, it can become yours. If another company seeks to use the same story for their USP, they will be regarded as plagiarists.

 

Finding the USP can be achieved by asking two important questions:

  • What do your customers want?

  • What does your company do that no other companies appear to do?

 

You may also want to consider what competitors do and talk about so you can avoid this in your USP.

 

Although it is less fashionable than a customer value proposition, the unique selling proposition (USP) has much to commend it. It focuses on a single factor that makes a company or brand special. In the complicated world in which we live, this simplicity can be a big advantage. It is worth finding your USP.

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