The cornerstone of a stand-out brand is a single, strong message. A message that creates a very clear image in the minds of its audience.
This is the USP; the Unique Selling Point (or Proposition; whichever you prefer).
A USP is an invaluable tool for any business. A well defined USP gives a focal point to guide your future decisions and give you real differentiation in the minds of potential customers.
So how do you create a USP?
What makes you different?
What is the one thing you strive to do that makes your business unique in its field?
If you can answer that question now, move on to the next heading.
If you don’t know your difference, it’s because you don’t yet have one. This is not as bad as it sounds; it means you now have the opportunity of choosing your USP.
It can be anything you want it to be; just remember these three things:
- It should be Unique: No surprise there; but make sure that your competition isn’t already using a similar USP.
- It should have a genuine appeal: You can have the most unique proposition in the world, but if nobody wants it you don’t have a USP, but only a UP.
- It should be something you have a real interest in providing: If you dont have passion for what you’re doing you will lose motivation.
Do you have strong beliefs about the environment? Then become the most eco-friendly company in your sector.
Do you believe your competitions’ offerings are a bit lacklustre? Ramp up the quality of your product and show them up for the charlatans they are.
Do you have a background in physiotherapy? Offer your customers a full-body massage with their order.
Once you’ve figured out what your difference is going to be you can move on to the next step.
Turn your Difference into a USP
So you’ve got your difference; but you probably don’t have a USP yet. Chances are you have a unique selling paragraph, possibly a unique selling sentence. The next step is to refine this to a short, sharp point.
You should be able to define your USP in no more than 5 words; ideally 3 or 4.
Lets take the environmental example above and apply it to a cafe. “The most environmentally responsible coffee shop in town” is a good start, but too long; “The eco- friendly coffee shop” is much better; but it could be refined a bit more. “Eco-friendly coffee”: 3 words, straight to the point, an excellent USP.
Make it Happen
Now you’ve got your USP, it’s time to take some action. Your USP should be informing everything you do from now on.
Take the coffee shop from the previous example; there’s all sorts of things this shop can do to make itself more eco-friendly. Using responsibly grown coffee, printing menus on recycled card, grinding beans by hand, offering a discount to customers that bring in their own mugs; the possibilities are almost endless.
Also; make sure that any existing activities aren’t in direct opposition to your USP. If the “Eco-friendly coffee” shop left its lights on 24/7, didn’t recycle its rubbish, or had an owner who drove a large 4×4 everywhere the customers would detect a hint of hypocrisy in the “Eco-friendly” tag.
Remember, your brand is what you do, and how you do it.
Make Some Noise
Now you’ve done the hard work of defining your USP and putting it into action you need to let everybody know. Update your social media sites, issue a press release, put up some posters, hand out some flyers, shout it from the rooftops.
There’s no point in having a USP if nobody knows about it.
If you have employees, make sure they understand your USP. If your staff don’t know what it is they can’t help to comunicate it, and in a worst case they’ll give the wrong message altogether.
Look After it
Keep making decisions based on your USP and you will make it your own. Don’t worry about new businesses trying to copy-cat what you’re doing; you’ll have too much of a head start for them to take your USP from you.
A well thought-out and succinct USP should need very little alteration over time, but your execution and realisation of it will. Ensure all of your activities stay true to your USP, keep thinking of new and innovative ways to reinforce and enact it.
What are your views?
Do you have a USP? Are you struggling to define your USP? Leave a comment below and let me know your experience.