How to Define Your Unique Selling PropositionWhen your customer stops scrolling and pays attention to your brand, the magic moment is more than an excellent offer or even great content. Aligning what your company offers with the right person boils down to your unique selling proposition or USP. Defining your unique selling proposition happens when you establish what’s different about your brand and why people should care. It’s the core of any marketing strategy and essential to bring people to your brand.
Step #1: Define Your Offering
You have to decide what you’re selling before you can define your unique selling proposition. Seems obvious? However, many businesses offer so many products or services that it is impossible to create a clear message. Your offer is more than the product or service. People buy on emotion rather than logic, so it’s crucial to reach them on a deeper, emotional level.
To define your offering, reference Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For example, a car wash business offers Esteem through status and recognition. They could talk about a clean car, but so what? People love their cars as a symbol of who they are: wealthy, a soccer mom, economical, athletic, etc. A clean car is about making their status shine and earning respect.
People Buy on Emotion, Not Logic
The Trap of Selling to Everyone
Avoid falling into the trap of offering too much, which can be confusing for customers. Choose ONE thing that you’re offering: Security, freedom, love, etc. (or at least choose one thing at a time…you can always test messages).
Step #2: Call Out How Your Brand is Different
Step 1 answers the question “So, what?” for your customers. It explains what you do for them. Step 2 is about differentiating your company from the competition. Why would someone come to your car wash instead of the guy across the street?
Differentiation is part branding and part value.
When you decide who you are, be loud about it. You’ll turn away some, but others will be more loyal because they connect with who you are. Be consistent with your colors, your style, and your tone of voice. To dig deeper into your brand, refer to the 12 Brand Archetypes.
What do you offer that your competitors don’t or can’t? Your value is the competitive edge. I’m not implying that your company should offer the cheapest product or the biggest sale. Value comes from more than price; Most companies can compete on either Price, Quality, or Convenience. Your brand might offer value through exceptional service or ease of use. Which are you? (no, you can’t be all 3).
Step #3: Refine Your Promise
Trust is a massive issue for the modern consumer. New businesses are crowding the marketplace, and it’s hard to know who is legit. When you decide who you are and which value you offer the world, make it a promise. Your promise moves you from courting the customer into a relationship because they trust you (just like how you wouldn’t go steady with someone who seemed like a player, no matter how funny, sexy, and sensitive they are).
If you have a string of customer testimonials that prove your offering is the best thing ever, put it on display. If you don’t have reviews, but you do have happy customers, ask them for some public feedback! Especially in the age of Facebook ads and internet products, customers are much more likely to trust if they see real, happy customers who have tried the thing before them. Get your reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Trustpilot, or somewhere besides your website; anyone can write a fake review on their site.
Most people are good. Refine your promise from a place of trust because people need a strong guarantee to try something new. Countless studies show that brands that offer more security get more back. Offer a free trial week, a 1.5x money-back guarantee, shipping included—anything that works in your margins to get people past the threshold of conversion.
When your promise is good enough, it becomes part of your brand.
Brands that made their promise part of their brand
Patagonia’s Lifetime Guarantee
Manduka Yoga Mat Lifetime Guarantee
Heineken Light Money Back Guarantee
Warby Parker’s Try Before You Buy Guarantee
Joybird’s Free Samples (and free 90 Day Returns)
The key is to offer a great product, so people don’t want to return their product, but some still will. Make it easy for them and learn from the feedback. It’s likely that if your offer + your promise is the right fit for your audience, the number of sales you make will significantly outweigh the number of returns. Be audacious here and offer a lot!
Your USP is the Baseline to Your Marketing
Continue to refine and test your unique selling proposition. Your USP is the combination of things that makes people buy from you instead of someone else. Remember that car wash? Would you go to the standard car wash that offers a clean car or a fun brand that plays classic rock and provides a glowing vehicle with gets serviced in under 5 minutes or your money back? I’d be willing to pay more money if they consistently meet that promise, even if the competitor across the street is marginally cheaper.
Letting go of customers that don’t vibe with your USP
Some people might vibe more with the savings and tidy brand across the street, but that’s not your car wash. When you work hard on your Unique Selling Proposition, you’re going to push out some customers that aren’t the right fit. That’s ok. Because if you’re just bland, no one will buy. The keyword here is unique. Shine with why you’re different and accept that it won’t be for everyone. When you stand out to the right people, they’ll not only convert but become your loyal customers who refer their friends to your company. Be different, be generous, be yourself, and marketing your business will be easier, or at least more fun.
Your company, your offer may not be for everyone, but for some, it’ll be perfect.