what is usp in business

You Down With USP? Know Your Business ‘Unique Selling Proposition’

What is a USP in business / marketing? Your business, products, and services, are unique. Yes, there might be a bunch of other companies doing something similar, but YOU make your business unique.

If you ask a customer if they want to buy what you’re selling, how do you get them to jump up and shout, “yeah, you know me!” 

The answer lies in your business’s “USP,” but what exactly does USP stand for, and what is it? Here’s an explanation with some lyrical assistance from 90’s rap group, Naughty By Nature.

What Does “USP” Stand for, and What Is It?

“(USP), how can I explain it, I’ll take it frame by frame it, to have ya’ll jumping, shouting, saying it…” 

This is where USP, or Unique Selling Proposition, comes in. USP is what you, the seller, gives as the reason why your product or service is better than the competition.

It’s the heart of your brand, and what makes you special. Otherwise, you’re just a commodity; like one of those generic cans of beans that people ignore at the supermarket.

So, what makes YOUR business different? What do you have that’s unique and special? Once you determine the answers to these questions, you have your USP.

If this is a new concept for you, take a look at some successful and well-loved brands.

What does Apple have that Microsoft doesn’t? Why does Google kill Yahoo? Why do people wait in line at Starbucks when there’s an empty coffee place across the street? Even though everyone hates taxes, why do they flock to buy TurboTax in April?  

Analyze their marketing and branding for what they are really saying to the customer. You have to look deeper than the product and into what they SAY they are selling. It’s about more than the goods or work done, and about how these businesses set themselves apart from the rest.

down usp unique selling proposal

Choose one of “The Four P’s”

“Exciting isn’t it, a special kinda’ business…”

The four P’s of marketing are: Price, Product, Promotion, Place. When crafting your USP, use one of these four areas to center your idea around.

Is your price unique enough to market? Does your product have qualities that shame the competition? Determining which “P” to use is up to you and where your brainstorming takes you. Make sure this USP shines through in every marketing effort, and even your business cards.

Creating & Defining Your USP

“How many brothers out there know just what I’m gettin’ at?”

Remember why you’re in business. Why did you create your product?  Why did you set out to provide the services you do?

Imagine the enthusiasm you had when you first described the idea for your business to a friend. That’s exciting, and that’s your USP.

The good news is that you must be doing something right if you have customers, so why did they choose you over a competitor?

It could be your customer service, because you make every customer feel valued. It could be the  unique location of your store, or where you sell your products. There are things that mark your business as unique and discovering them is the key to a great USP.

tobacco company branding

Most cigarette companies had USP’s to die for

“Now when you do it, do it well and make sure that it counts…”

Besides having an exceptional business and a USP, you also have to effectively market it. Take cigarettes for example. Unless you live under a rock in Siberia, you know how awful they are for you.

They will literally kill you, and it even says so on the packaging, yet people still buy them. New smokers are added to the ranks everyday, and most of them are quite passionate about a single brand.

How are these companies able to get past the plethora of negative advertising?  Tobacco companies have well-defined USP’s, and a little help from highly-addictive chemicals. They also know how and exactly who to effectively market their products to.

Hopefully your product or business isn’t hazardous to anyone’s health, so it should be easier for you to define and market your USP.

So, Is your business down with USP?

“Now don’t be shocked, cause if you’re down I want your hands up high…”

Imagine yourself as the customer. Why would you look at a whole shelf of competitors and choose your brand?

What makes you worth more than the “generic” equivalent?

By taking the time to truly step back and see each part of your business with an unbiased eye, you’ll be on the right track to a develop and market your unique selling proposition.

So, are YOU down with USP!? (Yeah, you know me!)

*Lyrics from “O.P.P.” – Naughty By Nature