Unique Selling Proposition: Why Have It and How to Craft It

by Bhavesh

Clarify whether your business needs to create a Unique Selling Proposition that unifies its sales, marketing and management efforts and discover a simple process for creating one.

It's a dangerous blind-spot for most mid- and small-size businesses: They don't give enough thought to their Unique Selling Proposition (USP). The lack of a strong USP results in unfocused strategies and scattered efforts across the whole company and ultimately impacts their financial results.

Specifically, there are two problems that businesses face in creating a strong USP: 1) They are not convinced that they need to spend significant amount of time and effort in developing one and 2) There is very little concrete help in creating a USP that could truly guide a business' sales, marketing and management efforts.

This article helps business owners and leaders clarify if they need a good Unique Selling proposition. It also aims to take away the confusion and uncertainty from the process of creating a USP an offers a simple, 4-step process for creating a compelling USP.

The best place to start is to take the quick poll below that helps you clarify your reasons for looking into creating a Unique Selling Proposition.

Why Create a Unique Selling Proposition?

It is conventional wisdom. If we are re-starting, jump-starting or re-launching an existing business (or starting a new business), the first thing we must do is freshen up its logo and “identity”. Then we must recreate or re-touch its marketing materials. May be hire an ad agency to do some of this work. Then all we have to do is get the word out through email marketing, social media and conventional channels such as networking, phone calls and trade shows. 

... And then wait for the phone to ring.

Most of us are cruelly reminded that things don't work out well with such an approach. And still, we keep buying into this lie. Over and over and over and over, year after year after year. If the business is struggling, it must be that the flyers aren’t snazzy enough. May be our web-site needs rework. Or our logo and “brand identity” need a face-lift. Or that we need to hire a PR firm, a marketing firm or an ad agency. 

In my experience, for most medium and small businesses (up to few hundred employees strong), this could be dangerous route to take. Marketing this way can cost businesses thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, without ever seeing a dime in return, not to mention lost time and missed opportunities.

What’s the right way to jump-start your sales and marketing efforts?

Your Reason for Having a Unique Selling Proposition

What brought you to this page?
Unique Selling Proposition: Why Have It?
Unique Selling Proposition: Why Have It?

Four Questions to a Strong Unique Selling Proposition

A simple template for creating your USP

Recently, I heard the President and CEO of a local business tell me that he wanted to expand in new markets. In order to do that, he was in the process of hiring an ad agency. In my conversation with him, one thing became quite clear: He was not clear about what exactly the product would be, how it would benefit the customer and how it will stand out in the marketplace so that people will buy it and pay a decent price for it.

He was expecting the advertising agency to figure it out for him!

If the advertising agency knew the answers, it would be them reaping profits from their products, not the business owner. Let’s face it, as business leaders it is our responsibility to know the answers to these questions.

You see, there is simple law of business success we are violating when we let the outsiders do our thinking for us. It is this: Clear intentions produce clear results. The opposite is also true: Unclear intentions produce unclear results.

As hard as it may be, we must be clear about our products and services inside our own heads, not in the heads of an ad agency!

More specifically, we need to clearly be able to answer four questions:

  1. What business are we in?
  2. What do our customers get, specifically and precisely, by doing business with us?
  3. What makes us different from our competitors' products and services?
  4. Why should our potential clients believe in what we are saying?

The more clearly and precisely we can answer these questions, the clearer our sales and marketing efforts will be. The clearer we are about these four questions, the higher our sales will be and the higher we will be able to charge for our products and services. Ultimately, the impact of such clear thinking will be on our financial statements, where it will show up as higher revenues and sustained profits.

Granted, finding answers to these questions often is not easy. It requires some structured, disciplined thinking. That's why I will be writing a series of articles to walk you through these four questions step-by-step. They are meant as a set of guideline you can follow to do this kind of structured thinking.

In the meantime, please take some time to ponder over these questions and jot down the first ideas that come to mind. You may even want to put your answers together in a short story-line or a narrative that you can share with others for feedback. You will be surprised at how much psychic energy you can unleash by answering such simple questions.

Which Question Needs Most Clarity...

In your business?

Which Question Can You Answer the Best...

About your business?

Reference and Further Study

On Positioning, Branding and Creating a Marketing Message
Jump Start Your Business Brain: The Scientific Way To Make More Money

Doug Hall shares data-proven methods that can make sales, marketing, and business development measurably more effective.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Mark Twain once observed, “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, an...

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

'One of the most important communication books I've ever read. I highly recommend it!' - Spencer Johnson, author of "Who Moved My Cheese?" and co-author of "The One Minute Manag...

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant

Written by the business world's new gurus, Blue Ocean Strategy continues to challenge everything you thought you knew about competing in today's crowded market place. Based on a...


Related Articles

On Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
We address the pivotal component of crafting a Unique Selling Proposition (USP): What Business Are You In?
What makes you different? This article addresses the core component of a Unique Selling Proposition: Why should a client choose your business over your competition?
In this article, we address the single and unequivocal component that ties all the pieces of your business together into a Unique Selling Proposition: You!
In this article we address the most important piece of creating a Unique Selling Proposition: What your clients get when they do business with you. ((What's in it for me? (WIIFM))

Unique Selling Proposition
This article from The Economist makes a good argument against having a "rudderless, nondescript, 'me too'" positioning statement.

Discover Your USP

At Awayre Business Club

Awayre Business Coaching
Perhaps the most challenging part of The Four Questions process described above is not answering them but rather answering them with sufficient authenticity, authority and confidence. As you work with these four questions, you may realize that creating a compelling USP is an iterative, gradual process with increasing levels of clarity and focus, with each iteration driving its creators deeper into themselves for better and better answers. At Awayre, LLC we take it seriously enough that it's an integral part of our key program, Awayre Business Club (ABC). If you are a business owner or a key executive at a mid-size firm, it probably makes sense for you to look into this program.

Updated: 03/04/2013, Bhavesh
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