What companies do you think of when you read the following phrases?
“Overnight” (delivery) = ________________
“Low Prices” (retail) = ________________
“Organizing the world’s information” (internet) = ________________
“30 minutes or less (food)” = ________________
“Thick” (spaghetti sauce) = ________________
(The answers are at the bottom of this post.)
I would guess that most of you got all or most of these correct. Now, I want you to think about how valuable this is to those brands. How incredibly powerful is it that when you think about delivering a package overnight, Fedex comes to mind. Yes, it’s incredibly powerful. And it’s the reason that companies like Fedex are valued at many times their earnings (because their branding helps ensure they will attract customers for years to come).
Now, let’s think about your business. What do current and prospective customers think about you? And what words trigger your brand in their minds?
What we’re talking about here is having a strong Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your USP separates your product or service from your competitors. It makes your product or service a “unique, must have” item. And it helps customers to remember you when they need a product or service in your category.
In fact, great USPs have been noted as the keys to success for companies in multiple industries such as these:
i. The Domino’s Pizza USP is “Fresh hot pizza delivered to your door in thirty minutes or less, guaranteed” (key USP elements are quality (hot/fresh) and timeliness (30 minutes or less))
ii. The Federal Express USP is “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” (key USP elements are reliability and quick delivery)
Building a great brand and getting widespread awareness of your USP takes time. But the first step, defining your USP, can be done pretty quickly.
Simply follow these steps/exercises to create your USP:
1. Put together a detailed description of who your customers are and the problems and desires they are looking to solve/fill.
2. Describe the key values and/or benefits that your customers will receive from buying your products and/or services.
3. Describe how customers will feel after consuming your product or service (e.g., their teeth will be whiter, they will feel more confident, they will feel safer, they will have more energy, they will have more money, etc.).
4. Write down ways in which your company is different, and ideally stands out from competitors (factors such as price, location, exclusivity, results, safety, timeliness, etc.)? (And if currently nothing really makes you unique, come up with some new ideas!)
5. Branding: How would you like customers to think about your business? (e.g., as being the guaranteed lowest cost provider, as being the most reliable company, etc.) (e.g., customers think of WalMart as low price; they think of Lexus as luxury, and Toyota as value).
6. Long USP summary. Take your answers to questions 1-5 and create a paragraph that portrays your unique selling proposition.
7. Final USP. Condense your long USP summary to just one line. Use the Domino’s and Fedex examples as inspiration. Realize that you can’t say everything in just one line, but you must get your key points across.
“Overnight” (delivery) = Fedex
“Low Prices” (retail) = WalMart
“Organizing the world’s information” (internet) = Google
“30 minutes or less” (food) = Domino’s Pizza
“Thick” (spaghetti sauce) = Prego
Suggested Resource: Creating your USP is 1 of 12 essential elements of your marketing plan. To learn the other elements, and create a marketing plan to maximize your revenues and profits, watch this video.
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