Once upon a time, two brothers decided they would put themselves through college by buying a small pizza business. Early on the business struggled, and one decided to leave. The one who stayed came up with a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that revolutionized his entire industry and made him a multimillionaire.
His USP was: “Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Ten words that brilliantly and clearly communicate two incredibly important product benefits. He promised fresh, hot pizza delivered not quick, fast, or soon, but precisely in thirty minutes or less, all backed by his personal guarantee.
This USP has made advertising history, and it fueled the growth of Tom Monaghan’s Dominos Pizza empire.
The Power of a USP
Think about the following question: “If we went out into your marketplace and asked 100 people (customer, suppliers, employees, the media) about your company and what it is known for, what would they say?”
This is the power of a truly great USP. As Tom Monaghan found, it is well worth developing a strong USP for your product,
service or business. And it’s not necessarily easy. I know clients who’ve taken months, even years, to finally hit on a USP that really worked for them.
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is the best way of explaining your position in the market, and why a customer should buy from you compared to your competition. When a big-box retailer like Wal-Mart labels itself with the words “Save Money. Live Better;” it’s made a positioning promise unlike any other.
A USP is also a way of summarizing and telegraphing one of the chief benefits, often the chief benefit of the business, product, or service being marketed.
A few years back, Subway enjoyed great success repositioning itself as a weight-loss business, first with the story of Jared, one of its customers, and then by comparing the number of fat grams in its sandwiches to those from McDonald’s. According to Subway’s website, its USP is “Eat Fresh, Live Green.”
Your USP should be the central unifying “theme” of your business, product, or service. Ask yourself: Which courier company delivers “the world on time”? The answer is plainly obvious when you see a Fed Ex truck at your front door.
In 2007, MB helped craft a new theme and USP for Preston Hardware: “Service. Selection. Value.” These three words have defined this brand in every facet of their business.
These examples show that a USP can be based on just about anything. There are USPs based on color, size, scent, celebrity endorsement, price, quality, delivery speed, location, even hours of operation.
Developing your USP
As you concentrate on developing a new USP for your business, you should take the time to study USPs of other businesses, and learn from their examples. To hone your marketing mind, you should become USP sensitive and ask these questions about every business, product, and service you encounter:
- Does this business have a USP?
- If not, can you think of one for it?
- If so, is there a way you can think of to improve it?
A good source of ideas is the public library. There, you can review directories and newspapers, as well as dozens of consumer, business, trade, and specialty magazines.
Another great source is the Internet: you can spend time visiting web sites both in and outside your industry studying other businesses and looking for inspiring USP ideas.