Formulating a compelling Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is not an easy task. As important as your logo, it sets the foundation for effective communications strategy. Meaningful and distinct, the objective of this statement is to set you apart from your competitors and create a memorable catch line for solving your customers’ problems.
According to an IBM study, 80% of customers affirm that brands do not understand them as individuals. Your USP is what will make your audience feel like you have the solution to solve their challenges.
How to create and communicate these key messages to your audience?
In this article, you’ll find a step by step guide for formulating your USP and integrating it within your marketing communications.
1. Research your market
First and foremost, undertake market research on both your audience and competitors. The objective here is to identify what your customers want and what your competition provides them with.
- Customer profiles
The easiest way to define your audience is to select three target persona for which you define the following components:
- Demographics: their age, gender, income, marital status.
- Their story: Where are they in life? What are their values and interests? What challenges are they experiencing that would lead them to need your products or services?
- Their needs and wants: What must they have to solve their challenges? What product or service characteristics would they desire?
- Competitor analysis
Once you know who your audience is and what they are looking for, list out the competitors that target the same audience as you. From there, determine their offering based on the following criteria:
- Key products and/or services attributes: tangible and intangible characteristics such as size, colour, taste, quality, price or reliability to list a few.
- Positioning: What makes their product or service unique? It is essentially their USP.
2. Identify a problem
Now that you have determined what your audience wants and what your competition offers, you need to conduct a gap analysis in order to identify what needs or wants are not addressed.
For this, list out the primary attributes that are lacking in the market but that you can provide. Ultimately, what can you uniquely provide for your customers?
3. Define differentiators
The next step is to further refine your list of benefits to only keep the two major ones that are the most important, desired or meaningful to your target market.
From there, draw a perceptual map with two axes centred vertically and horizontally on your paper to form a box divided into four quadrants.
Finally, place your competitors and your brand on the map based on where you think they are best represented in the mind of your customers.
The resulting perceptual map will clearly showcase your competitive advantages. Example of a competitor map is provided in the picture below.
4. Create your USP
Based on your competitive advantages, write a statement in a customer-focused way that puts an emphasis on your promise. In other words, your USP outlines why customers should choose you.
The key here is to make it short and simple so people can easily remember it. And it doesn’t necessarily need to list out all your attributes, only the one(s) that will best resonate among your target market.
To see what the final result should look like, here is an example of a successful USP.
Zappos USP: “The best return policy ever”.
This well known online shoe store is focusing on a major challenge online buyers face – buying online clothes items that might not fit. As most online stores focus on price, Zappos has found a way to stand out from the crowd by solving one of their customers’s key problems. Consequently, this strong differentiation allowed them to set higher prices for similar products.
5. Integrate it into your communications channels
The last step is to make sure that your USP is integrated into your communications strategy. The objective here is not to literally transcribe the statement across your channels, but to highlight your value proposition in a compelling way. For this, we recommend you outline the following elements:
- Headline: your product’s or service’s major benefit for your ideal prospect.
- Sub-header: the proof or guarantee that you are solving the problem.
- Bullet points: your differentiator benefits.
- Call to action.
If you are reading this article, it is very likely that you are either looking to improve your USP or to create one. What should your business be known for? How do you solve your customers’ problems? If you need help answering these questions, do not hesitate to contact us.
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