So, you’ve got a business and you’re starting to think about spreading the word for your product and service?  Where do you start?

If you’re like the majority of other businesses in existence you likely offer a similar or even the same product or service as other businesses that will undoubtedly be competing in the same space for the same clientele.  For this reason it is paramount that your business identifies a difference in its product or service that will make your customers choose you over your competitors.

This doesn’t just add some sparkles to your already smick & shiny service offering but it will also help you allocate your marketing & advertising budgets towards your ideal customer –that is, the customer that will find your product or service more valuable than your competitor’s.

These are the 3 main reasons for developing a quality USP:

  • Differentiating yourself from competition
  • Understanding who will most benefit from YOUR unique service
  • Targeting your advertising and marketing budget to YOUR ideal customer

So let’s take a look at the USP’s of some successful companies before we begin to go over how to generate your own USP.

FedEx – When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.

  • This outlines FedEx’s reliability and speed of delivery in an interesting intriguing statement

M&M’s – The milk chocolate that melts in your mouth, not in your hand

  • This outlines the major difference of M&M’s chocolate coating while offering a positive experience which likely would be unachievable with other chocolates

DeBeers – A diamond is forever.

  • Probably one of the most successful USP’s in history outlining why a diamond has a higher perceived “valuable” than other stones. A diamond just like any other stone is just a stone and yet this USP has made diamonds synonymous with everlasting unions.

Domino’s Pizza – You get fresh, hot pizza to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.

  • Fast delivery for fast food. This appeals to the wants of the target market and puts their mind at ease of the idea that the pizza may take a while to be delivered.

Having a look at the above USPs we can see why they are important.  They focus on one aspect that they believe to be of utmost importance to their target audience and outline it in a way that convinces their customers to buy from them when trying to satisfy a specific problem.

We could go one step further and ask – what do these companies identify their product or service as solving.  According to their USP’s:

  • Fedex solves reliability and speed, often 2 major inconveniences of postal services
  • M&M’s solve the traditional inconvenience of most chocolates creating an easy to eat alternative
  • DeBeers represents quality and longevity of their stones often a concern when spending a large amount of money on jewellery
  • Dominos solves urgency and quality two pitfalls of home delivered fast food

Now based on these solutions we can ask the question -who do these companies believe to be their target market? According to their USP’s:

  • Fedex’s target market are people that value reliability and speed over price or relationship with local businesses
    • Their competitors might be the cheapest or the local courier
  • M&M’s target market would be people that want to eat or provide chocolate in a clean convenient way
    • Their competitors might be chocolate makers that use the finest ingredients or have the most flavour or use artisanal methods
  • Debeers’s target market would be people that want a stone to last forever -> Grooms looking to make a forever statement to future fiancé’s. This may come at a larger cost, but spread out over forever –who cares?
    • Their competitors might offer more cost effective stones or more unique stones
  • Domino’s target audience would be hungry people that want food ASAP without sacrificing quality of food
    • Their competitors might offer traditional, authentic, gourmet or organic pizzas

Based on these ideas it is easy to see how these companies differentiate their product and service and what their competitors might use to differentiate their own.  So now that we understand how USPs work, how do we go about developing our own?

  1. Identify your target market. Who needs your product and service?
  2. Identify where you stand in your market. What are your strengths?  What are your weaknesses?
  3. Identify the common pitfalls of your industry. What are the biggest inconveniences related to your product or service?
  4. Identify which of your strengths can solve an inconvenience related to your industry.
  5. Write a summary of steps 1-4 in a tone that appeals to your strengths and target audience.
  6. Condense your summary into a clean and simple tagline that conveys your USP directly to your audience.
  7. Plan all marketing to draw attention to your USP.