Why Should People Buy From You?
by Danna Yuhas, Market Impact
What is the one important and compelling reason why someone should buy from you rather than from your competition? This is indeed, a difficult question, which you must answer, for on it hinges the heart and soul of your business, and your ability to attract and retain customers. A unique selling proposition (USP) is a promise to your customers The marketing statement that describes your uniqueness or point of difference, in terms of the major benefit that your customer will derive, is called a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. It is, in effect, your promise to the customer that you can help them in a way that no other companies or products can. A unique selling proposition must be defensible and important to the customer The best USP is one that is defensible, and that cannot be easily duplicated by others. It can stem from some unique aspect of your technology, service, support, guarantee, or operations; it can even convey a feeling. But it must be important to the customer. And it must set you apart. A unique selling proposition can be captured in a marketing slogan Very often, a USP is stated in terms of a marketing slogan that reinforces your brand or company’s identity. Nike’s "Just do it" is an example of a USP that encompasses a feeling, an active lifestyle, and a concept. Intel’s latest marketing initiative, "Intel Inside," is an attempt to reinforce their brand and to thwart the actions of AMD and other competitors, which are eroding its number one market position. A unique selling proposition identifies your brand in the customer’s mind A USP positions your company or product in your customer’s mind, providing a unique benefit. And no two brands can occupy the same position in the same target market. Nyquil is the "night-time" cold medicine; DHL is the "worldwide" courier; United Airlines is the "friendly" airline; and Crest "fights cavities" while other brands give you whiter teeth, fresher breath, or control plaque. A unique selling proposition forces you to focus on a major benefit or position Positioning has several implications. Your USP forces you to give up something. You cannot be all things to all people. If you don’t "sacrifice," you’ll end up with no position at all, and no sales. There will be no incentive, no motivation, and no benefit to dealing with your company. So don’t be afraid to give something up. The good news is that customers can be segmented into groups, according to the benefit that matters most to them. A unique selling proposition will let you own a market segment By focusing on being the best in one category, you will own this market segment. And by reinforcing your USP in this market segment, you will maintain top-of-mind awareness. If you consistently deliver on your promise, your brand and company will grow. And you will become known for the benefit you provide. All marketing communications�including ads, trade show signage, premiums and incentives, newsletters, brochures, byline articles, direct mail, sales presentations, voice mail messages, Web site, and press releases�must reiterate and reinforce your USP. Put it in headlines, and in the body copy. Use it when you make sales calls. State the USP in terms of how it benefits your prospect. Another implication of positioning is that you want to own the one word that is synonymous with the most important benefit that your customer is looking for. This means really understanding your customer’s needs and wants, being able to deliver the promise, and developing a strategy of being first to market. Of course, this is not always possible. So make a list of all the benefits that might appeal to your prospective customer, and prioritize them from the customer’s point of view. Review the ranked list, determine where your strengths lie, and choose a benefit that you can deliver on. And then, most importantly, determine the market potential of various USP positions, including market size, growth rate, and profitability. How much sales volume can you derive? At what profit level? Will your USP force you to spend money developing a continuous stream of new customers or can you cultivate loyal repeat business? You can have more than one unique selling proposition if .. Since different benefits appeal to different market segments, you can have more than one USP, IF you don’t confuse the market. That is, each market segment must be distinct and different. They must read different publications, listen to different radio stations or TV programs, have different lifestyles or demographics, or buy through different distribution channels. You cannot, for example, have two different ads, each with a different USP, in the same magazine, targeting the same audience. This will not only confuse your audience, but it will also dilute your message, or even create doubt in the customer’s mind as to your ability to deliver on your promise. Example Electronics Workbench (EWB), a software application that simulates real life circuits and instruments, is an example of a product that appeals to several distinct market segments. In the education market, EWB is positioned as a product that "amplifies the student’s understanding of electronics." This audience is reached via direct mail and print ads in publications that target educators. In the hobbyist and corporate market, however, EWB is positioned as a productivity tool that speeds up circuit design. And the product is advertised in vertical electronics publications. In order to support several USPs, there must be some barrier that separates one market from another. A unique selling proposition can dictate how business is conducted and operated A strong USP quantifies the benefit for the customer, and can even dictate how business is conducted or operated. "Two for one" pizza provides an obvious benefit�two pizzas for the price of one�which will appeal to large families, price conscious consumers, or party-lovers. Their USP also means that high volumes must drive their profitability. They must service a geographical area that’s densely populated, and their distribution system must be sufficient to deliver hot pizza in a reasonable time. They must also maintain a large enough staff to produce twice as many pizzas to maintain their volumes and customer commitments. "Two for One" is their company name, their USP, and their market position. It affects their costs, revenues, and profitability. And it also affects their operations, advertising, and the type of consumers they attract. In short, their USP is the heart and soul of their business. It is their business. So choose your USP carefully. It is the foundation on which your business will be built, and on which it will grow. And as the essence of your business, your uniqueness and market position will determine your success or failure. TIP OF THE MONTH A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is the most important statement you’ll ever write for your company. (And you must have a USP.) It will determine your company’s ability to attract customers, and to maintain credibility as you strive to consistently deliver on your promised benefit. Your USP will affect your revenues, expenses, profits, and operations. And it will position you in the market. So choose your USP with care. © Danna Yuhas. Market Impact. Danna Yuhas is president of Market Impact. The company specializes in market research, strategic direction, results-oriented sales and marketing programs, creative corporate communications, and both technical and non-technical writing services. Yuhas has an MBA and 15 years senior marketing experience helping Canadian high technology businesses grow and remain competitive, both in Canada and in the United States. For more information, or if you have a particular marketing or sales issue that you are interested in, please contact Danna Yuhas at (416) 410-5608 or reach us via e-mail at [email protected]. Or visit our Web site at www.market-impact.com