The Unique Selling Proposition

As small businesses, we find ourselves in increasingly competitive markets, and it is essential that we have a clearly defined Unique Selling Proposition, or USP as it is often called, and that we are communicating this effectively.

So what is a Unique Selling Proposition? It must be something that makes you stand out from your competitors – something which is unique to you, and differentiates your business.  It needs to answer the question “Why should I choose you?”

How can you work this out? You need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes – so often we love what we do so much that we forget how our customers perceive us. You will need to understand what motivates the customer’s behaviour and buying decisions – the psychology behind the purchase.

You could also look at what your competitors offer and see if there is a gap which is not being filled by any of them – but make sure it is something which the customers want!

The best way to be sure that your USP is effective is to try it out on both existing customers and new prospects and get their feedback. Ask your customers why they bought from you in the first place – it may not be the reason you thought! If you are part of a networking group where you know each other well, this can be a great exercise – do the other members know what your USP is, and is what they think it is the same as you do?

If you are a one-person or micro-business, your USP may very well be about you, your personality and how you relate to clients. This can be difficult to put across in written materials, so you will need to think carefully about ways to express it, but asking your existing clients will help. They may even give you some glowing testimonials which you can add to your promotional materials.

Once you have refined your Unique Selling Proposition, the next step is to check that you are using it on all your marketing materials, and when you introduce your business to other people.

Author: Beryl Pettitt