If you are a small business owner who is just starting out, chances are that you may not be the only player in your field. When there are numerous others offering products or services similar to yours, you need to be able to distinguish yourself from your competition. What is the first step towards setting yourself apart from competitors? By creating a powerful Unique Selling Proposition, of course!
What is a USP?
A Unique Selling Proposition, also known as Unique Selling Point is a concept in marketing that summarizes what your business does and how and why it is different from its competitors. Let’s assume that you are a home-baker specializing in making cupcakes. There may be hundreds of other home-bakers making cupcakes in your city. So how do you go about creating a name for yourself? You focus on what makes your cupcakes different from what is already available out there. It can be anything that makes your business unique. Are your cupcakes egg-free? Vegan? Gluten-free? Dairy-free? Do you use only natural ingredients to add color to your cupcakes? All these are key features that could become your business’s USP. It will make it easier for your customers to choose your business if they know exactly how you are different from your competitors, and how much value this difference adds.
The Domino’s example
When pizza delivery became a common thing back in the 90s, Domino’s decided to run with the tagline: ‘Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less’. They didn’t claim that their pizzas were the tastiest or the cheesiest or the most authentic. They identified a customer pain point – the lack of prompt food delivery service – and turned it into their USP! By doing so, they ensured that a hungry customer, who might not be craving for pizza, wouldn’t mind ordering Domino’s pizza simply for its on-time delivery! Not only did they manage to make all their loyal pizza-loving clients happy, but also managed to tap into a unique set of new customers who wanted food delivered to them in less than 30 minutes from the time of placing an order!
How to create your USP
Remember that your USP forms the core of your competitive edge, even more so when you are a small business. It should speak out loud about why your customers should buy from you. If you haven’t identified a USP yet, here are a couple of things to keep in mind before creating yours.
1. Pinpoint what you are good at: Take a step back and take a close look at your business plan. What exactly are you good at that makes your product or service a must-buy? Understanding this will serve as the first step towards creating a USP for your business.
2. Figure out what makes you different from others in your industry: What makes your product or service exceptional is often the same reason that makes you different from your competitors. Your uniqueness becomes your competitive advantage. Make a list of characteristics unique to your business and it will give you a better idea about how your business stacks up against your business rivals.
3. Find out customer’s pain points: When you end up creating an awesome solution, it is easy to lose sight of the problem that you had initially set out to solve. Entrepreneurs should always remember to focus on the problem, rather than the solution because the latter is entirely dependent on the former! You solution is never perfect—because the problem at hand constantly evolves and shifts, and your solution must evolve as well, in order to stay relevant.
Talking to your target audience is once surefire way to understand and identify their problems, their struggles with existing solutions and how it can be improved. The last part can make all the difference between business success and business failure. Hence, identifying customer pain points will give your business a better direction, which will in turn help you create a better USP.
4. Identify the promise you are making to your clients: Every product or service you are offering to a client should make a promise to your customers. For example, if you are a maker of handmade soaps, what is the one thing that a client who uses your product can be assured of? Is it the use of only organic products? Is it the promise that there are absolutely no chemicals in your soap? Or is it the outcome of using your soaps—guaranteed hydrated skin maybe? Whatever your promise is, ensure that your USP conveys the same message and that it becomes an integral part of your business plan. Making a pledge to your customers will drive you to be more accountable to your customers and instill trust in them towards your brand.
Once you have created your business’s USP, you will find that it serves as a constant reminder of why you are in the business that you are into. This creates a need for your business to be outstanding, and it ensures that your business keeps improving on what it does best, ultimately paving the way for business growth and success.