How To: Refine Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The internet is a wonderful thing, there’s no doubt about that. Regardless of the geographical constraints, the internet has enabled real-time connection of businesses and their potential clients. It’s not all good news, however. The same connectivity that your organisation enjoys is shared with your competition, and as a consumer, there’s more choice than ever before when it comes to identifying and transacting with one organisation in particular. In acknowledgement of this fact, today we’re going to be looking at the importance of refining and optimising your organisation’s unique selling proposition, or your USP.

Your unique selling proposition is how you, through your marketing, put your organisation above the rest when it comes to certain aspects of the competition. It’s a difficult feat to try and out-compete your competition when it comes to absolutely every aspect of your operations, so I believe it’s helpful to double-down on certain areas in your organisation that you can really excel in. Think of the term: ‘Jack of all trades, but master of none,’ you want to do the opposite. I’d argue that it’s best to identify one area you want to outperform the rest, and essentially hedge your bets on this being a USP that will retain existing clients, and win over new ones.

Appreciative inquiry is one of the best tools at your disposal when it comes to this, which we’ve covered previously on the blog, because it helps you identify areas that your organisation is already exceeding customer and stakeholder expectations. From here, you’ve already got the bedrock of a USP ready to market, or an opportunity to innovate or optimise that USP even more before your marketing team begins to leverage your USP.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to separating yourself from the pack, but three key areas can help massively when it comes to starting on the right foot. Researchers and entrepreneurs alike agree that it’s essential to know exactly what the motivating force behind your customer’s purchases and interactions with your organisation are. One you know this, you can make more pointed and effective decisions as to how to capitalise on your USP, rather than guess-work.

A good way to help you in the process is to ask yourself, and pose the following questions to everyone in the organisation:

  • -What do you do better than your competitors?

  • -What are your strengths and weaknesses?

  • -Why do customers keep coming back to your organisation?

Simon Sinek is a perfect resource in this context. His work on the power of why ties in perfectly with what we’re talking about when doing your research. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, Sinek argues that customers don’t merely buy a product or service from a specific organisation, the customer is buying into the reasons why the organisation is producing it in the first place. Sure, these might be largely economic reasons, if the product is at the forefront of competitive pricing, but as we’ve seen, consumer trends don’t necessarily stick to what’s cheapest. In actuality, consumers will happily pick the most expensive item off the rack if the producer’s why alligns with the consumers. Don’t underestimate the importance of this when you’re tossing up how to innovate and optimise your organisation’s unique selling point.

Empathy is an essential piece when putting together the jigsaw that is your USP. Entrepreneur agrees with this sentiment, adding that “too often, entrepreneurs fall in love with their product or service and forget that it is the customer’s needs, not their own, that they must satisfy. Step back from your daily operations and carefully scrutinize what your customers really want.” I couldn’t agree more, hence why I’ve written about the importance of empathy many times on our blog, driving home the need to see your organisation from the outside in, rather than the other way around. You can’t accurately - and objectively - gauge how and where your organisation sits in the market without it.

If we look at some examples around the globe, Domino’s Pizza in the States prides itself on its expedited delivery speeds, which has gone on to shape their unique selling proposition in a market absolutely flooded with competition. “Pizza delivered in 30 minutes- or it’s free” is a great way to separate yourself from the pack, which subconsciously fills the stakeholders with confidence in the speed of delivery. FedEx has a similar tact, with a slogan that says “where it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight,” essentially separating itself from the pack of couriers and freight services that might out-compete FedEx on price, but not necessarily on the speed of service due to their extremely large fleet.

There’s a lot to this topic, and I plan to dive even deeper into it in future pieces, but for now we’ll leave it as an introductory lesson before we get more specific. As I’ve mentioned, there’s an onus of responsibility on your part, or the leadership team in your organisation to do some work in establishing what it is, and why customers are buying from you.

Thanks for your time,

Kobi Simmat

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