How To Craft Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Published by 21 Comments

In “The Social Network”, the movie based on Facebook’s meteoric rise to prominence, my favorite line is when the young college students sit around a Harvard dorm talking about how fast their idea took off.

FaceMash had just been coded, and the first few emails went out to friends. The hero’s dorm mates ask,

“How many people are you going to tell?”

And he replies:

“The really important question is: How many people will THEY tell?”

One of the key features to branding and positioning yourself in today’s attention economy is to make yourself (and your business) WORTH RECOMMENDING.

How To Become ‘Worth Recommending’?

One way is to be the very best at everything you do.

Another is to be obsessive about delivering value – all the time.

And have a story that spreads – often one that is tied to your purpose.

Watch this powerful video presentation at TEDtalk by Simon Sinek called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”. It’s about the Golden Circle, and finding your WHY…a simple, effective way to get your prospects eager to do business with you.

Once you’ve reached this stage, one other thing matters. You’ve got to give your eager, interested prospects a COMPELLING REASON why they should buy from you, rather than anyone else.

And that means positioning and defining yourself in a unique way that sets you apart from the competition. In other words, you need a USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

Why Should Customers Buy From You?

The vast majority of businesses do not have a good, compelling or unique reason. Understand that this differentiation should confer an advantage from the perspective of the BUYER.

Saying you’ve been in business since 1932 isn’t really a benefit that’s immediately perceived – unless you can translate that into a benefit, as in:

“Tailors for well dressed gentlemen since 1932. Our skilled designers have always been on top of current trends.”

The message to grab here is that conveying your uniqueness to your prospects involves a degree of EDUCATING them about yourself, your business and what you do to benefit them. Without the information, they will hesitate to make a buying decision. When they see all the facts, they’ll see the reason why what you’re offering is a wise buy.

Rolex Watches And Internet Marketing

Many years ago, I saw a magazine ad for a Rolex. In great detail, the ad explained what went on “beneath the dial” with beautiful pictures showing dozens of interlocking ratchets, with wheels within wheels. Each tiny, perfectly handcrafted element was responsible for a critical function. They all integrated perfectly, worked in synchronicity, coordinated wonderfully.

How did prospective buyers know all that? Because marketers TOLD THEM the story. Explained how their watches worked. Highlighted the benefit from such precision technology so that prospects were convinced that they wanted to own a Rolex, a masterpiece based on such technological excellence.

Schlitz beer ramped up from #5 in the U.S. market to capture the #1 slot after a skilled copywriter named Claude Hopkins decided to tell the story of how exactly they brewed beer. Strangely enough, the story was NOT unique. All beer manufacturers use nearly the identical process.

Hopkins was the first to tell the story. That was unique. No one else was doing it. When Schlitz did, they acquired top-of-mind awareness – and business boomed.

Domino’s Pizza entered a marketplace that was already dominated by Pizza Hut, but differentiated their offering by promising “Hot, Fresh Pizza, delivered at home within 30 minutes – or it’s FREE!” That’s a benefit powerfully denominated in terms that appeal to the buyer, who sees a tangible advantage or benefit from choosing Domino over any other competing brand.

FedEx was launched on the promise of “When It Absolutely, Positively Has To Be There Overnight” – and they came to attain a near monopoly position in the business courier market. That’s the target audience who values speedy and prompt delivery of mission-critical documents. FedEx built a huge business on the back of that compelling promise, and by consistently delivering on it.

How To Devise Your USP?

More often than not, your USP evolves from how your market (if you already have customers) defines and perceives you. So it helps to ask your clients through a short survey.

Find out why they bought from you. What made them choose you over other competitors? Offer them a range of choices to pick from, in case they can’t clearly define a reason.

In my own online information business, when I surveyed my buyers, I discovered (with a bit of surprise) that the single biggest reason people bought my infoproducts was because they were happy that a part of their purchase price was helping a child receive a life-saving heart operation.

While that definitely was something unique about my business model, I hadn’t highlighted it earlier, because I thought people would be more concerned mainly about the value in business terms that they were getting from my products. After this survey, I realized what mattered more to my clients. So I bumped up this angle, telegraphed it more clearly, and have attracted clients who are even more loyal than the ones I had before! On my website at www.DrMani.com you’ll find this:

“Dr.Mani Sivasubramanian is a heart surgeon and Internet infopreneur using his information business to fund heart surgery for under-privileged children.”

Not all of the benefits your USP statement focus on will be direct and visible. Others may be more intangible and subtle. They may appeal instead to deeper feelings and emotions, desires and dreams. Think of how your product or service may be of value to your market, and come up with a statement that encapsulates that advantage.

  • Simpler (or more complex)
  • Cheaper (or more expensive)
  • Ubiquitous (or exclusive)
  • Advanced (or basic)
  • Available in a wide range (or limited choice)
  • Fastest
  • Easiest
  • Longest track record
  • Celebrity endorsement

…and so on.

Another approach is to focus on your product or service, and answer questions about it:

  • What does your product do?
  • Who benefits from it?
  • What is the biggest benefit they’ll get from it?
  • How can you prove your claim?
  • How will prospects perceive your benefit, as compared to competitors?

Drafting Your USP Statement

The key to a USP is that it should be brief, yet complete – and highlight the points that make your business unique in the eyes of your marketplace. It also should have three key components:

  • a benefit that is easily perceived by your customer
  • a statement that is memorable, catchy and to the point
  • believability

Drafting a good ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ may take many attempts. The process can last for weeks, if not months, before you get it right.

Your USP, when it is done, should convey a positive feeling about your company and business, avoid defining your offering as a commodity, and focus on a promise of emotional gratification.

Once you have a working statement, make sure it is visible and communicated everywhere. Put it into your marketing message, your website, within your information products, in your email communications and in all other channels through which you connect with your audience.

There’s a lot more to crafting your USP, and there are comprehensive guides and books written on the subject. One that I highly recommend that you read is by my mentor, Jay Abraham. It’s titled “How To Create A Unique Selling Proposition”.

This article you’ve just read is itself a modified excerpt from my infopreneur mentoring program in which we delve deeper into other elements of positioning your business as ‘special’ and ‘unique’ in a remarkable way. To learn more about it, please contact me. These are three month sessions held thrice every year, during which I guide Internet entrepreneurs through some of the core components of building a business that lasts and thrives – by basing it upon a meaningful purpose that’s fired by your own passion.

Dr. Mani

About Dr. Mani

Dr.Mani is actively engaged in spreading awareness about congenital heart disease (CHD) and fundraising to sponsor heart surgery for under-privileged children in India.

An ardent group of volunteers and donors have embraced this noble purpose that is bigger than any individual or group, and grown it into a global movement that has touched and saved the lives of 87 little children. You can help too. Learn how at http://www.DrMani.com

Read more from Dr. Mani »

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21 Comments

  • Your true USP is that you are a Uniquely Special Person – whatever line of business you are or aim to be in never foget to show people some of that, the humaness, your life story, some emotional connection with others. We buy most from those people who we believe in, who touch us, ala Sir Richard Branson. Personality is as important as profit, if not more so.

    • I agree, John. It’s probably because we’re hard-wired to connect with people better than with more abstract ‘brands’ or ‘corporations’. It’s why Matt Cutts is a more widely engaging representation of Google’s brand than the corporate entity itself. How does one *love* a faceless, formless entity?!

  • You must know who you are and how to handle the diversity of people who judge you. Keep a open mind and be yourself and people will buy from you.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • I wonder if there’s another element to all of this. I wonder if it’s not so much in what you do, but how you feel about yourself when doing it. We are all looking for the secret to success on the outside, while most of these successful people have one thing in common. They believed in what they were doing, right or wrong, they held strongly to their belief. If a person is so adamant and sure about their belief they will find followers in whatever they are doing. This of course would apply to everything we do in our lives.

    If the followers are looking for something to fulfill their needs, and you have it, then it is a perfect match. If you are passionate about something that people aren’t interested in as a whole, then maybe your product won’t be so successful.

    So a good combination would be, believe in what you do with passion, and offer something that would fulfill a need. Belief taking precedence, and the details will fall into place as you go.

    Tony

    Tony

    • Tony, Great insight, thanks for sharing it.

      I’ve internalized a philosophy that was first formally taught to me by Jay Abraham. It’s that you should only sell something you passionately believe will enhance the life of your client, in one way or another. And if you don’t, why are you selling it?

      So, yes, in that sense, digging deep for your USP can make you feel even better about what you do – because it’s the essence of why you do it in the first place!

  • Dr Mani,
    Thanks for the insightful article on creating our USP. It’s important to have a reason for someone to buy what you are selling.

    We can develop relationships one by one as well as create a campaign that will appeal to the masses of potential customers.

  • Good post Doc, I like the Internet marketing and Rolex watches part. Having an open mind is a must!

  • Great post Dr. Mani!

    I think that in order to be able to craft your USP however you must first be able to identify your WHY, as Simon Sinek mentioned in his presentation.

    You have to know WHY you get out of bed in the morning, WHY you do what you do and WHY should anyone care.

    I believe that to be the first step to identifying your USP. Otherwise, you will think like most people do – from the HOW and WHAT.

    I am a huge fan of Simon Sinek and have read his book Start With WHY! Thanks for sharing this perspective Dr. Mani!

  • I just remembered what my professor told me before, It takes thousands of dollars to gain new customers but it only takes a dollar to retain them. Give them quality services and products and you can have them forever.

  • [...] Yaro Starak of Entrepreneur’s Journey explains how to become worth recommending! [...]

  • Great article. Simple message – tell people what you do. You don’t even need to be that different.

  • Thanks for the article Dr Mani, on a subject that has been fundamental to business for a long time and one I even remember studying in university (it’s rare for university to actually teach me something relevant to what I do today!).

    I have a question for all the readers of this blog and of course you too Dr Mani –

    “What do you think the USP of Entrepreneurs-Journey.com is?”

    • Hmm… how about this, Yaro?

      “We help entrepreneurs along the long, sometimes rocky, journey towards success!”
      :-)

  • Hi Yaro,
    Your USP in my eyes are several things. One you have a background in computers. EJ has been around since 2005 which gives you credibility, EJ is earning 10′s of thousands of dollars a month which also gives you cred.

    EJ is a real business with many talented and respected writers and useful information. I’m subscribed to your newsletter and receive useful info and recommendations. You have connections with fellow blogger Darren Rowse who is also awesome.

    EJ was one of the first blogs that I began commenting on when I started my blog in Jan, 2011.

    I would say that sustainability/credibility/trustwothyness is your USB. I don’t have a word to combine those three into one though.

    • Thanks for the feedback and kind words Justin. Now how do you condense that into believable statement based on a benefit for the audience?

  • Dr Mani, you are amazing as usual. Very good article. Action provoking thoughts. Just like your products and programs. Designed to deliver results. Good journey. And thanks Yaro, for your wonderful site which will always be my reference and daily reader.

    Dr Maharaja SivaSubramanian N

  • [...] How To Craft Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – Entrepreneurs … [...]

  • Very Very well put. Long story short, you need to provide value to people in order to make it noteworthy. Also, don’t overlook that entertainment can be considered a value in some realms.

  • This is definitely an argument in favour of taking the trouble to pick out a point of difference between you and the crowd. Sadly so much of internet marketing is copy cat with people trying to clone other people’s methodology, the way their site looks, even their material!

  • Dominos failed miserably at the 30 minutes or less, but I am sure they got a lot business.

  • […] will have their undivided attention for a minute or two to give a sales pitch on your product’s unique selling proposition (USP). Resist the temptation to buy or rent a budget tradeshow stall – first impressions are […]

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