The unique selling proposition (USP) is the factor or benefit that makes your product different—stand out—from other equivalent products on the market. As an example, one product may use small-batch processing where its competitors do not. If you offer a service rather than a product you may determine your USP is that you will go to the client rather than them coming to your office. You may also see USP referred to as unique selling point or unique selling position statement.
Identifying your USP takes quite a bit of time and research, but without the research, you are selling just another commodity.
USP Based on Industry Competitors
Before you can discover what makes your product unique, you’ll need to know what else is available for your prospective customers. That means doing an in-depth analysis of each one of your competitors. What products exist that can fill the same needs as your product? What selling points do these competitors promote?
Review their marketing materials, especially websites. Look at independent review organizations for your industry to see what these analysts have to say. And try out as many competing products as you can to get a feel for how they work.
Prospect-Based Unique Selling Position
What do people who already own a product from your industry have to say? Quite a lot, usually. If you’re selling B2C products and services, the customer reviews online can be a goldmine of feedback. These comments don’t just talk about the product’s good and bad points, but also service issues like delivery costs, bad tech support experiences, and billing complications.
You can also search for reviews of your competitors’ products as your own. If you see a particular feature or problem frequently mentioned for a given product, write it down. It will give you an excellent feel for what the marketplace thinks to pattern these products.
USP From the Customer
Existing customers are a terrific source of information. Start by getting in touch with your "best" customers and ask them if they can spend a few minutes giving you feedback on the products they own. Use this information to pull together a brief survey and mail or email it to the rest of your customers.
If you can, offer an incentive for them to fill out and return the survey, anything from a $5 gift card to a coupon for their next purchase.
A Review of Your Product Compared to Others
By now you should have a pretty good feel for the competition. You know what products are out there and how well they stack up. It’s time to look more closely at your product. In what areas are your customers most satisfied with your products? What are your product’s most glaring weaknesses? If you haven’t used your product recently, try it now, and see how your own experience matches with what you’ve heard from your customers.
You’ve pulled together quite a lot of information by now. It’s time to review the facts and come up with some conclusions. Compare your list of product strengths and weaknesses to the information you have on your competitor's products. Are there areas where your product is stronger than most or all of the competing products? How about areas where your products are significantly weaker than comparable products?
The moment of truth comes when you settle on one single area of strength and turn that into a USP. It must be a quality that is important to your customers. If you’re proud of offering your product in 50 subtly different shades of green, but your customers can’t tell the difference, that’s not a good choice for your USP. Ideally, your choice should also be a feature or quality that will be both memorable and difficult for someone else to copy.
Herald Your USP to Everyone
Once you’ve picked your USP, it’s time to share it with your prospects. If you use Powerpoint slides in your presentation, add a tagline about your USP and include it on at least the first and last slides. Add the same tagline to your email signature and social media marketing accounts (if you use them). And work your USP prominently into both your cold call pattern and your main sales pitch.