Your unique selling proposition

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Before you can begin to sell your product/service to anyone, you have to know how to sell it.

Very few businesses are truly one-of-a-kind.

So, you will need to know what your unique selling proposition (USP), unique selling point or point of difference is.

It also helps to know your customer value proposition (CVP), too.

While these are similar sounding, they play different roles in your product development and business growth.

What is valuable for your customer and what set your product/service apart are separate things.

Let’s explore them.

Self Employment Assistance: Small business owner standing in his storefront

Customer value proposition

Think about a business we’re all pretty familiar with – supermarkets – and some of the memorable phrases we associate with them:

  • Woolworths – the fresh food people
  • Coles – down, down
  • Aldi – good different
  • Spudshed – your local fresh supermarket

Memorable phrases like this state or allude to the value a customer will get from shopping with them, beyond the produce they sell.

Businesses can sell a feeling associated with their product as strongly as the product itself.

You could interpret the CVP for each to look something like this:

  • Woolworths – knowledgeable staff in their supermarkets, a dedication to fresh produce
  • Coles – the feeling and reality of saving money when you shop, bringing down prices of regular items, good value specials
  • Aldi – good quality, recognisable brands, with great variety, not always stocking the exact same stuff all the time
  • Spudshed – selling produce from local farmers and growers, directly supporting local industry

And refine it even further:

  • Woolworths – knowledgeable staff, fresh produce
  • Coles – good value specials
  • Aldi – great variety
  • Spudshed – supporting local industry

Your CVP should be centred on what your current and prospective customers value in a product like yours – why they buy it and what influences them to buy it.

The existence of your product alone is not enough to compel people to buy it.

An example of this from articulates this well:

“Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, always used to say he sold hope, not makeup. Some airlines sell friendly service, while others sell on-time service. Neiman Marcus sells luxury, while Wal-Mart sells bargains.”

Unique selling proposition

Your USP is more than just identifying and countering what your competitor does well.

It's a combination of what your customers want (e.g. the problem they encounter) and what your business does well (your product or service).

A USP differentiates you from your competitors.

Only saying your business is 'better' than a competitor is ineffective, because it does not directly solve the problem the customer has.

The customer needs the 'how' and 'why' your business is the one they should pick.

When thinking about what makes you or your business different, consider the following:

  • Is there anyone else operating in your area of expertise?
  • Research the market and see what is out there
  • Is your product or service unique?
  • Have you tested the market to see if there is a need for it?
  • If your product or service is already in existence, how can you offer them in a unique way that sets you apart from your competition)?
  • Perhaps you could investigate a niche within the product or service?
  • Are there opportunities within that market, or can you create your own?
  • What makes your product/service (or the way you offer it) different to your competitors?

You will find your USP is based on things such as your characteristics of product/service, pricing structure, placement strategy (location and distribution), marketing strategy and means of promotion.

Want to get creative?

Challenge yourself to describe your business or sell your product in 10 seconds or less.

See what you come up with.