No two businesses are the same, but in a crowded field, identifying your company’s unique selling proposition (USP) gives you an opportunity to stand out from the pack. But what makes a company different from its competitors and how can you find your USP? Roll up, roll up for the Tyl Talks guide to USPs.
What does USP stand for?
First thing’s first – USP stands for unique selling proposition, but you may also see it referred to as a ‘unique selling point’. Why the confusion about what USP stands for? The term USP is attributed to American advertising executive Rosser Reeves, who first developed ‘hard-sell’ marketing campaigns at the Ted Bates and Co agency in the 1940s, and later coined the phrase ‘unique selling proposition’ in 1961. So, while ‘unique selling point’ is often used in everyday business language, ‘unique selling proposition’ is a term with historical origins.
What is a USP?
In business, your USP is the main quality of your product or service that differentiates it from your competitors’. Under this theory, the seller must highlight the unique benefit to the customer – often a single proposition – and repeat this selling point across marketing assets in a bid to drive sales and promote a business effectively.
What are the benefits of having a USP?
Fine-tuning your USP could benefit your business in a number of potential ways:
- Increased sales. Finding your USP could raise awareness of your business, which ultimately may lead to greater revenue (and cash flow) by carving out a gap in the market.
- Customer loyalty. If your customers identify with your business’s USP and agree that it lives up to your service levels, it could strengthen their affinity to your brand and encourage word-of-mouth sales.
- Define your mission. It’s not just your customers who may notice your USP, but the staff on your payroll too. A clearly defined USP could help ensure that everyone working for your business understands what makes it different.
How to find your USP
When you sit down to write your business plan, or even if you’re looking to refresh your existing brand, what are some of the ways you can develop a USP that’s different to your competitors? Here are ten angles you could look to explore:
- Customer service. When customers buy your products or services, can they expect a cheerful welcome? Integrity, trust and reliability could also be at the forefront of a customer service USP.
- Quality of product. Do you make goods using better quality materials than your competitors? If so, positioning your business as a luxury brand could be one USP to consider.
- Environmental awareness. Does your business endeavour to reduce its environmental impact, and if so, how? Everything from using recycled materials to email receipts could underline your environmental credentials.
- Convenience. Do you make it as easy as possible for your customers to pay? That could mean a Click and Collect service, a well-designed website with an integrated shopping cart, or a handy selection of card machines for quicker payments, rather than a cash-only counter.
- Location. If your business is located in a prestigious neighbourhood, or you sell locally-sourced products or stage events in your community, you could look to highlight your local credentials as a USP.
- Longevity. Do your products simply last longer than the alternatives on the market? In a world of ‘throwaway culture’, reusable and long-lasting goods could prove to be a smart USP.
- Exclusivity. Are your products hard to find? From antique collectibles to luxury jewellery, rarity could be an invaluable USP.
- Low price. Does your business target price-sensitive customers? If so, your pricing strategy and USP could place an emphasis on the low cost of purchase.
- Technology. If your business implements modern tools such as apps, virtual terminals and payment links, your technology offering could be a selling point you promote as a USP.
- Brand personality. The way you communicate with customers, from your brand’s tone of voice in email comms, to the look and feel of your website, could encourage a customer to choose your business over your competitors.
Unique selling point examples
There are countless examples of USPs you could draw inspiration from so you should always do your own research, but one of the more famous USPs is department store John Lewis’s ‘never knowingly undersold’ pledge. This is a price-centred USP where if a customer finds the same product at a UK high street competitor, they look to make a price match request.
Other brands, like car manufacturer Rolls-Royce, use quality as the differentiator – such as the quality of the materials, or the components made by hand. Moreover, speed of delivery can be a USP; Domino’s Pizza have previously offered customers ‘fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed’ but these are just a few examples of USPs and you should always do your research before deciding on your own USP.
Read more Tyl Talks guides
Whether you’re cooking up a USP or you’re looking for inspiration on how to manage your business, our Tyl Talks guides are bursting with ideas and inspiration. Explore some of our latest articles.
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This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.
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