What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

Posted on April 2, 2017 by ATB Chartered Accountants

A unique selling proposition (USP) is something that makes you or your business stand out to clients. A USP is generally used by companies to attract customers by offering them something that their competitors don’t. Why should your customers stick with your business, and why should potential customers choose you over everyone else?

Depending which market your business is in, it might be common for customers to jump from competitor to competitor, but for some businesses, customer loyalty is much higher. By having a clear USP, you can give your business a strategic advantage over competition.

Small businesses in particular often fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people. A USP will help curb this habit through identifying who your key target segment are, what they need, and what you can provide to them that no one else can. A USP might cut out some customer segments, but this isn’t a problem because it narrows your business’ view to customers who will provide you longer term value, and are likely to remain loyal.

So if you don’t already have a USP, how should you go about creating one? You should start by asking yourself four key questions:

What does the customer need?
What are the sources of value for the customer?
What can you offer to deliver the value benefits?
What differentiates you from your competitors?

FOCUSING ON CUSTOMER NEEDS

What does your ideal customer look like? What problems do they have? How can you fix these problems? What are their motivations to solve these problems? It is important for you to gain a wide scope of who your customer is, in order to fully grasp their needs, and how you can help them achieve these needs. A good way to do so is write up very specific ‘buyer personas’ of the customers you seek to sell to.

A hypothetical example of this for an up-market furniture company, Couteux, could be:

By knowing who your customers are at a deeper level, you are able to gain a broader understanding of their needs, motivations, and what they value.

IDENTIFYING YOUR USP

When you are in the process of identifying your business’ USP, it is crucial you remain true to your business, especially when you are passionate about something. You need to develop a clear business message, and continually communicate this to your customers, and any potential customers. What makes you passionate is what makes your business unique. However, this is not necessarily enough. Your business needs to be able to fill a gap within the market. That is, to identify what customers are missing/any problems they have, and solve these issues better than any other competitor can. A direct link must exist between your USP and your customers’ needs at all times.

DEVELOPING YOUR USP

Once you have identified this gap in the market, and your business’ passions, it becomes a lot easier to develop a USP. Begin with as much detail as you can, including all business stakeholders in the process, such as your staff and most valued customers, until you have an accurate, short summary of the benefit you provide to current and potential customers.

Your USP should be:

  • Compelling enough for people to want to know more
  • Align with your own passions, and clearly identify your offerings and how the business is run
  • Share the values of your target customers
  • Be consistent

USPs are crucial in developing a successful, competitive business. They pave way for customers to seek differences between your business and its competitors, and is ultimately the driving point of customer loyalty. Your business must embody your USP and how it will create value for your customers, and this message must be extensively communicated. At the end of the day, people engage with businesses they trust. Your USP needs to accurately reflect your business, while meeting the needs the market has.