What is a USP?
For many years, marketing experts have encouraged businesses to define their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) as part of their marketing strategy and plans. In other words, what makes you different from your competitors.
Are you faster, cheaper or do you offer higher quality?
Do you offer something innovative or truly unique that no-one else is offering in your market space?
The truth of the matter is, that there are millions of companies offering identical (or at least very similar) services and identifying a true USP is often not possible.
That's the bad news.
The good news is that it doesn't really matter as the whole thinking behind USPs is fundamentally flawed.
Unique selling propositions are inward looking – they are about you, your product and your company.
OK, so often they are expressed in the context of how your USP affects the customer…but they are still not putting the customer first.
This is where a ‘Statement of Values & Benefits' can help.
Features tell but benefits sell
Be clear on your products and services – don’t try and be all things to all people and when you are marketing your product or service, think about the benefits not the features.
For example, if you are selling firewood, you are selling the warmth not the wood. People don't want to buy a bed – what they want is a good night's sleep!
If you are thinking about your product in terms of its features, then ask yourself how this benefits the customer.
- If you think about features, think ‘so what’? Always ask the extra question: ‘Which means that?’. For example, I am a garden maintenance company and cut your lawn? So what? Which means that…you get your weekend back with more free time.
- Think about the benefits and value of people buying your product or service. Facts are great but appealing to peoples’ emotion is better. I cut your grass so you can spend more time with your family enjoying the garden.
- Think about ‘pain points’ – how will you improve their life or business?
- List some key action words about what you do to solve your customers’ problems (these are useful for your marketing copy and keywords for your website and search engine optimisation).
- Think about the profitability and sales potential of different groups of customers (market segments) and of different products or activities. Most companies make 80% of their profit from 20% of their products.
- You need to explain how your product or service solves your customers' problems or improves their situation. It is important to present this in plain language that can be simply understood and is relevant to your target audience.
What is a Customer Value Grid?
Once you have answered the questions above, you are in a good position to create a statement of values and benefits that focuses first and foremost on the promises, value and benefits you give to your customers.
You can then think about your products and services from several different perspectives in the customer's mind:
- Haves – what do they actually have before and after?
- Feelings – how do they feel before and after?
- Emotions – what emotions do the feelings generate?
In our garden maintenance example;
- Before taking us on, you have to cut the grass yourself. After taking us on, you do not have to cut the grass yourself.
- Before, you feel stressed every week it needs doing. After using us, you feel relaxed.
- Before, you never have time at the weekend to be with your family. After, your family life is better and happier!
Selling, more free time, being relaxed, being happier and having the nicest garden in town is far more powerful and easier to sell than just offering to cut the grass!
Mark Woodroof is a qualified marketing coach who was awarded a BA(Hons) in Business and a Diploma in Marketing (from the Chartered Institute of Marketing) in the early 1990's and has spent the last 20 years working with private and public sector organisations.
During that time, Mark has worked with hundreds of business owners helping them to grow their businesses, launch new products and services, set up and manage their own marketing plans, websites and digital marketing strategies.
Today, he specialises in Digital Marketing, Social Media, WordPress Development and marketing automation systems such as ActiveCampaign & Infusionsoft.
Mark's areas of expertise include:
- Marketing Strategy & Planning
- Software Development Project Management (Microsoft.Net & Laravel)
- Customer Relationship Management Systems (Infusionsoft, Zoho & Insightly)
- Web Design & Development
- Digital Marketing Campaign Development
- Mailing List Services (eg AWeber, Mailchimp)
- Traffic Generation Strategies & Tactics
- Sales Funnels, Squeeze Pages & Online Conversion
- Customer Value Optimization
- BA(Hons) Business Studies (University of Portsmouth)
- Diploma in Marketing (Chartered Institute of Marketing)
- Level 5 in Coaching and Mentoring (Chartered Management Institute)
- DigitalMarketer Certifications:
- Certified Content Marketing Specialist
- Certified Customer Acquisition Specialist
- Certified Customer Value Optimization Specialists