“Own a piece of the market,” instructs your marketing manual. Okay, but what does that even mean?
Today, I’d like to share some simple ways to identify your USP so you can own your own unique share of the market.
Most marketers describe the USP as the unique “something” you provide that your competition doesn’t.
When Dominos started out, for instance, they promised fresh, hot pizza in 20 minutes or less. Twenty-minute pizza was something no one else could offer, and it put them on the map despite a bad-tasting product.
Another example is an ad agency I recently worked with. They promise “a business model built around the client,” and whenever possible, every project begins with a face-to-face meeting. In a world where business interactions are become less and less personal, that’s a terrific differentiator.
The point is to “own” some benefit or product that your customers want. And to find it, you need to identify the gap in the market — something no one offers but you.
For example, let’s say you’re the only used car salesman in your area who offers an honest deal. You could advertise “We sell cars. We don’t take you for a ride.”
Looking for the U in your SP?
Sometimes the USP is obvious. In most cases, it isn’t. What do you do if you can’t find a unique differentiator?
There are two ways you can handle this: state the obvious, or make your brand the USP. Let me explain…
State the obvious
In most industries, there are certain benefits that don’t need to be stated. They’re obvious. All banks offer fraud prevention. All gasoline makes your engine run.
When your offer sounds just like everyone else’s, try to find an obvious benefit that no one else has “owned” yet.
For example, if you specialize in writing auto-responder emails, you might call yourself “The Auto-responder Guy.” Sure other people write auto-responders, but you’re the go-to guy who specializes in them.
The trick is to find something that is worth owning. It should matter to your customers, and you must be the first to claim it.
Make your brand unique
Sometimes the market is so saturated, there’s no SP left for you to claim. What then?
If that’s the case, ignore the USP. Create such a compelling, creative message that you attract attention anyway. In other words, own your advertising message.
Think of Pepsi. They aren’t the first cola. And their taste is so similar to other soft drinks that they can’t claim a unique taste. But this similarity is exactly what gives them their edge.
Accepting the obvious, that there’s no real difference between brands, why not create a direct comparison with the top brand? They created the Pepsi Challenge, a taste test that “proved” they were just as good a choice as Coke.
It’s an iconic advertising campaign that sealed their spot as the number-two soft-drink provider. Regardless of whether they won the challenge, they are now seen as a competitor to Coke. And that’s something they can own.
Still having problems? Try this…
It doesn’t matter what your promise is. “Unique selling proposition” aside, it doesn’t have to be terribly unique. You simply need a brand promise that tells people why they should choose you over a competitor.
If that’s your struggle, try this…
Instead of looking at what you do and how you do it, and instead of studying a long list of competitors, focus on what your target audience is doing.
How are they handling the problem that your product solves? Are they doing it right? What product are they currently buying? Is it working effectively? Does it do the job, or does it leave something to be desired?
Then see if you can identify that missing ingredient. What do they still desire? What are they settling with? What would make their life easier?
If it’s something you can fix, you have your USP. Find a message that identifies this problem and your ability to fix it.
Quite simply, your USP can be about a gap in the market rather than something unique about you. Your difference is that you see the need.
The bottom line
A great USP states the essence of your business promise. It’s the thing that distinguishes you and/or your product from the competition. But most importantly, it tells people why they should buy from you.
It doesn’t have to be wildly different or creative. It only needs to distill your business proposition in a way that resonates with your target audience.
Get that right, and you’re set.