What Is a Unique Selling Proposition?

A key to being successful in business is having a service or product that is unique and no other business can offer quite as well as yours can.

You need a unique selling proposition (USP). A USP is “a feature of a product that makes it different from and better than other similar products and that can be emphasised in advertisements for the product,” according to the Cambridge Dictionary. The term USP became a buzz term in the early 1940s, as a theory to explain a pattern of successful advertising campaigns.

Sometimes having a USP comes naturally. For example, when the iPhone was first released, Apple had a strong USP. People wanted to explore the apps and use their phone in new ways.
But if you’re a nail salon in London, it might be hard to walk far without finding a competitor. So, as a business owner, you need to realise what makes you unique compared to others and use that to market your business.

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If you can’t discover your own USP, it will be hard for you to target customers and create a successful sales strategy. A unique selling proposition can also be important in making your brand memorable to customers and conveying why you’re the business they should keep returning to.

You should begin the process with some introspection. Then follow these steps to help you expand and write a strong USP.

Ask your staff for help: Loop in your staff. Sometimes when you’ve been so involved in your business, it’s hard to take a step back and see it from a different angle. Ask your staff what they feel sets your business apart from the competition.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes: As the founder of the business, it’s easy to think your product or service is perfect. But why do your customers need or want your product? Is it convenient? Does your staff offer friendly service? What makes them come back to your business instead of turning to a competitor? You want to focus on what your customers care about.
Do a SWOT analysis: Another strong business practice is writing down your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). Then use this to help you see what your business does well or could further capitalise on to have a USP.
What problems are you solving? Think about what problems you’re solving for your customers and capitalise on that. Consider how your customers’ lives were less convenient before your product or service. This is all part of knowing what motivates your customers’ buying decisions.

Now that you have your unique selling proposition, what’s next?

Target your ideal customer: Once you’ve done some research and decide who your ideal customer is, target them with vigour. This helps you spur brand loyalty and create an effective sales marketing plan.
Make a promise and keep it: At its core, your USP is essentially a promise you’re making to customers about your product or service. So now you have to spend time, effort and money delivering on it.