What's Your Business' USP?

Don’t be part of the herd. Find out what makes you unique and reap the benefits.

It’s one thing about your business that no one else can copy. It’s the thing that sets you apart from everyone else in your marketplace. It’s your unique selling point, or USP.

Finding your USP is your first step towards marketing success. If you don’t know what yours is yet, you need to figure it out, fast. Here’s why you need a USP and some tips on how to define yours.

Why you need a USP

Think of why you buy the products and services you buy. Why do you choose one breakfast cereal over another? Perhaps you think it’s the most delicious. Maybe it’s the healthiest, or it has the best cartoon on the box? Whatever the reason is, there is one factor that causes you to choose that product. It’s their USP.

Why should people choose to buy your product or use your service? What do you offer that sets you apart? Your USP gives you an edge over your competitors. It tells your potential customers what to expect from you. It also gives you a head start when thinking about branding your business.

Defining your USP can be difficult. Perhaps you think you actually are like everyone else. For example, accountants often find it hard to work out their USP. They believe they calculate people’s taxes just like any other accountant. They think there’s nothing unique about them. If you believe this about your business, it’s time to narrow your focus.

Here’s what you need to consider when defining your business’ USP.

What do you do? 

The best businesses do one thing really well. Even the biggest companies in the world started off doing one thing really well, then grew from there. Amazon started selling books online before it started selling, well, everything.

If you can narrow down your focus to one product or service, you’ll soon find your USP.  For example, if you’re in marketing, are you great at branding? Maybe you’re an expert at social media? If you can be better than your competitors at one particular thing, that’s part of a USP that will attract customers.

Who do you do it for?

Perhaps more important than what you do is who you do it for? Startups who try to appeal to everybody rarely succeed, because different people buy things for different reasons and they don’t have the marketing budget to craft numerous different messages.

Again, big brands that we all know started with a narrow target market. When it launched, Facebook was only for students at elite American universities. Uber was only available for inhabitants of San Francisco when it began. Who you serve is also part of your USP.

Knowing that you can’t appeal to everybody, who do you want to appeal to? Who is your ideal customer?  Build up a detailed picture of your ideal buyer. What age are they? What gender? Where do they live? What job do they do? Give them a name. Decide on what they look like. The ideal customer you construct is called your ‘buyer persona’ or your ‘avatar’.

Once you’ve built your ideal buyer persona, there is another question to answer which will help you define your USP.

How do you help?

You know what you do. You know exactly who you do it for. However, until you have worked out how you help them, you won’t have a USP. Ask yourself, what’s in it for your customer?

Think about your avatar. What are their hopes for the future? What are their fears? What are the problems they are facing? What keeps them awake at night?

Then, once you have identified these problems, think about how you help them. Do you solve these problems? What are the consequences of you solving them? How do you make their lives better? What is your solution worth to your customer?

Netflix helped their customers by allowing them to watch movies without having to visit the video shop and without having to pay late fees. That became their USP. The answers to these questions are what sets you apart from the crowd.

Why do you do it?

Your final consideration is a bit less practical and a bit more ‘blue sky, but still important. Why do you do what you do? What are your business values? Is there something bigger at play than what you actually ‘do’?

Google’s search engine provides you with the information you are looking for extremely quickly. However, for its founders, there are bigger principles at play. They do what they do because they want to make all the world’s information available for everybody in the world.

This aim, and the way they work towards this aim, becomes their unique selling point.

More inspiration

If you have answered all these questions and still not discovered your USP, or if you are stuck on some of the questions, here are a few more tips to try.

·      Ask your customers: Why do your customers buy from you rather than anyone else?

·      Look closely at your competitors: How are you different from them? What areas of business are you better at than them?

·      The ‘So what?’ test: Think about your ideal buyer persona. If you told them your USP and they said, ‘So what?’, you need a new USP. Your USP has to be something that matters to your customer.

Use it or lose it

Once you have defined your USP, it’s time to put it to the test. The best way to do this is to communicate it to your customers via your branding.

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