This is a translation of article published at Rusability.ru
Any business has to have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
to answer the question "Why should my clients to deal with me, not with my competitor?". The answer to this question is crucial not only for the business owner, but also to all the participants of business process - potential customers, employees, partners, suppliers.
In my experience, only one of two small enterprneurships is trying to create its USP, and only one in five succeeds to create a proper one.
In this article, I describe the most common mistakes made when creating an USP. I will also give my recommendations on how to avoid these mistakes and fixt their consequenses.
First, let's understand what an USP is. Let's understand it word by word. UNIQUE.
It should be something your target audience will not find at your competitors. The good news is that your uniqueness is limited to your target audience (TA). If you do your business in Budapest, for example, then the existence of similar business in Praha should not even bother you. But if you plan to expand your geography in the future, you must think of your USP thoroughly and completely from the very beginning. PROPOSITION
(the word "SELLING" will be considered later). Your uniqueness should bring additional value to the client. You can't just come up with a unique piece for the sake of its uniqueness. For example, in your restaurant all the waiters are red haired. Is this unique? Yes, it is. Is it of any value to the customer? No, it is not. As a short-term news feed, this could be interesting. But USP is always about some deep long-term value. SELLING.
Your uniqueness should help you sell and make profit. Therefore/ it should be refocused from product's properties to clients' benefits. It should be spelled out in all your promotional materials. Do not force TA guess for your USP. It should be obvious and supported by facts and deeds. To summarize:
the correct USP should be unique, valuable for your target audience, worded as not a characteristic of your product, but as a benefit for the client. It should be stated in your advertising messages and have some evidence under it.
Let's now consider some common UTP related mistakes of small business: 1. Lack of understanding of the target audience. As a result the target audience is not interested in the USP.
Any business starts with its target audience. These are the people who will bring their money to you. Therefore, you should know them better then just "age, sex, marital status, city of residence". You should be aware of their interests, needs, motivations, and habits.
- How long does it take them to decide on your product purchase?
- Do they like go shopping or prefer make online orders?
- Will they use your product at home or in the office?
- What is more important to them - the brand of the product or its functional characteristics?
You need to understand the decisive factors specific to your target audience. Build your USP on these factors.
Here is an example of target audience misscomunication:
Some beauty parlour focuses on a woman "from instagram" who "loves to live a dream life" and spends a lot of time looking after herself. The salon suggests a 15-minute head massage after the haircut service, a paraffin bath after the manicure service, and a beautician will do a light make-up after all the procedures.
But, in fact, 80% of parlour's visitors are busy women with children who want to see a children's room there, a convenient parking slot for strollers and to spend in the parlour as little time as possible.
Here, the USP of the parlor does not intersect with its target audience's interests.
Most likely, the parlour does not bring its USP to the desired target audience. And their clients might be mainly those living nearby.
A restaurant trying to attract an audience for business lunches, but instead of quick service, its ads highlight an exquisite menu.
A cafe trying to attract freelancers, but instead of high-speed Wi-Fi, laptop sockets and a spacious work area, it advertises the most professional barista in the city.
A cleaning company wants to work with offices and offers them the most environmentally friendly cleaning products. There might be office managers who care so much about their employees, of coarse, but such a USP suits young families with children better. While offices would like the night time cleaning service more. What to do: Option 1:
If your current audience brings you a good profit - you can reorient on it and create a USP that will attract more customers like that. This usually makes sense for those who understands that a wrong niche had been chosen when business has already started up and is operating. Changing the strategy is not easy, but it's better than using the wrong one. Option 2:
If your current sales are not satisfactory or you are sure in your USP, then you can change the promotion strategy and find new communication channels that will lead you to the right target audience. 2. Substitution of a USP with basic parameters
There are things that we expect as a default option of any business.
- High quality
- Professional staff
- Different ways of payment
- Delivery of products bought online
- Freshness of products and cleanliness for restaurants and cafes
- Lack of allergens in products for kids
- Presence of parking lots for shopping centres
- A certificate at the end of training courses
- Hand cream after manicure
These things cannot be presented as a USP, because they are not unique.
"Only professionals work in our travel agency." Do your competitors say: "Half of our employees are professionals, but those two are yesterday's graduates with bought diplomas"?
Or - "We use only fresh products in our restaurant." Do the competitors use half rotten products?
Your USP is what you have IN ADDITION to the basic attributes. What to do:
If you already have some clients, ask them why they chose you. What they tell you is how you differ from your competitors. Strengthen and develop these qualities and base your advertising communication on it.
If you are a newbie, ask yourself: "Why would I buy from myself rather than from my competitors?" Just do not underestimate the competitors - it is most likely that most of them do their work very well and produce a good product - otherwise they would not be there on the market. 3. Everything for everyoneсе
Usually this mistake is driven by the desire to reach the widest possible audience and make as much money as possible.
"In our store each family member will find goods for home, office and outdoor activities that match their taste!"
It may look like you are trying your best to make client's life easier - they don't have to think where to buy - they just need to come toyou. This may work. But only if you are a shopping center or, Amazon, for example. In other cases, it is a losing position because your customer is more likely to care more about your expertise, product, or your partners. What to do: Option 1:
Narrow the variety of products to the one which you believe can make you the leader. Focus on bringing this product to perfection. This will make your clients think of you as of an expert in this type of products.
- Pet photographer
- Sandwich cafe
- Universal backpack store
In the late 90s, Steve Jobs cut 80% of Apple's projects, leaving only 4 computer models in stock, and it took him 2 years to make a profitable company out of the failing one. The end of this story is known to everyone, I guess.
There is the Da Michele pizzeria in Naples where Julia Roberts ate pizza in the movie "Eat. Pray. Love." But it is not the USP of that pizzeria. They modestly say that they cook the most delicious pizza in the world. And that's seems to be true. Every day, there is a queue of dozens of people in this pizzeria - which is attractive to locals no less than to tourists. The point is, that in Da Michele they cook only two kinds of pizza - Margarita and Marinara. But these two are delicious.