Harley David Rubin

Know Thyself: What’s the Unique Selling Proposition for Your Business?

What’s Your Unique Selling Proposition
Vitalii Vodolazskyi/

Consumers want to know what makes your product unique, and better than everyone else’s. That’s great, because you’re able to know the product’s unique selling proposition!

No offense – but why in the world should we care about your product or service? That is the question.

  • I mean, if it’s a cure for disease or an app that controls the weather, we’re in.
  • Sold.
  • Sign us up.

But if you’re selling a commodity product, or if there are dozens of companies just like yours within five miles, you’d better stand out somehow. Or, I’m sorry to say, your bottom line just might bottom out.

What’s a USP? That is Your Unique Selling Proposition

Many years ago, an ad man named Rosser Reeves put forth the idea of a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) as the basic characteristic of your product/service that differentiates you from your competition. (Please note: I’m paraphrasing for brevity.)

Meet the Unique Selling Proposition

Really great products and services have an obvious USP, usually because they’re the “first to market” with some great product or benefit. Or the USP is actually the innovation itself – a new product or service that’s never been seen before.

The Squatty Potty comes to mind, and not because the idea for this blog post came to me in the bathroom. It’s a fairly basic product: a step that goes in front of the toilet that positions a person in a physically beneficial way during a bathroom visit. (Translation: It helps you go.)

Both the simplicity of the product and the exclusive benefit create a standout USP that quite frankly turned me into a customer. (TMI? Maybe!)

What’s Your USP?

It’s not always that easy to come up with.

  • Maybe you’re an insurance agent, trying to convince potential clients that you provide the most personalized service.
  • Or you work in marketing for a beer company, trying to persuade customers that the ice cold water or locally-grown hops or special brewing process makes for the best tasting beer on the market.
  • Or you might run a farm-to-table restaurant in a medium-sized city where there are 10 more just like you, with chefs and managers equally committed to providing a wonderful dining experience.

Finding the USP

It all comes down to answering this one question:

What is the one thing that people come to you for – that “something” that they can’t find anywhere else?

Sometimes it’s difficult – or even impossible – to nail that one thing down. If you’re a sports bar, there are a million of you. So you’d better have the best wings, 500 beers to choose from, or frequent appearances by superstars from your hometown teams.

But let’s say that you’ve got your USP. You’re that bar with 500 beers to choose from, and nobody in your town even comes close. So how do you take advantage of this advantage?

How to U-S-E Your USP

Well, 500 beers is a lot to crow about. And since millions of sports fans enjoy a beer while watching their teams play, you’ve got a great USP to get ’em in the door.

Just off the top of my head:

  • Billboard/signage = “500 beers. 1 great place to catch the game. Only at Harley’s!”
  • Radio/TV spots = Announcer voiceover introduces the “starting lineup” of beers available at Harley’s – and keeps going and going, because the lineup has far more than we can mention in a :30 or :60.
  • Website = Include a comprehensive list of beers, including reviews submitted by patrons. (Monitor content for quality.)
  • Social media = Create “my favorite beer” posts written by employees and post to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • App/loyalty program = Through an exclusive app, regulars can check off every one of the 500 beers they try. When they get to all 500, they’re inducted into the Wall of Fame and get a $500 gift card to spend at Harley’s.
  • Ballpark/stadium/team sponsorship = Example: For a baseball park, Harley’s would pay to have a special line painted at 500 feet from home plate. Any time a home run swing sends the ball 500 feet, every fan in attendance gets a free beverage (non-alcoholic for the kids of course). (Note: 500-foot homers are extremely rare, so the marketing benefit would outweigh the costs most likely.)

Got your USP? Great! If you didn’t already have one in mind but know your product has one, I hope you’re thinking of that one thing that makes your product/service truly unique. Or that you’re planning to brainstorm with your team to make one!

Create a Unique Selling Proposition to Keep Your Business in Play

Did you know:

  • More than half of restaurants last less than three years.
  • Upwards of 75% to 80% of new businesses fail within a year.
  • Studies show that the longer a business lasts, the better its chances of making it over the long haul.

So find your unique selling proposition to stay in play! Or make one – and promote the heck out of it! I’ll be over here with my beer, rooting for you.

Do you have a strong USP? How are you using it in your marketing? Feel free to post in the comments below.

P.S. If you found this blog interesting, please share with your social networks!

Harley David Rubin

Harley David Rubin is a freelance copywriter, content creator and marketing strategist who has worked for both advertising agencies and corporate marketing departments for more than 20 years. He loves his family, pop culture, fantasy baseball and creativity in all its forms.

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