What you need to know about USPs
Today I want to talk about unique selling propositions. It’s a common phrase bandied about in business - you must have a USP, you must have a hook, you must have something that sets you apart.
However, I find that business owners tend to go one of two ways from this. In my experience, they're both extremes.
The first extreme is that they believe they have a USP - but it's not, really. This can be something as simple as a business having a website. Hello guys, we're not in the 20th century anymore, and in today’s business world, that’s a bare minimum for the majority of businesses. Perhaps it’s something like a business does something for you but nobody actually finds a benefit. Those sorts of things aren't USPs at all.
On the other hand, some business owners believe that a USP has to be truly unique. They believe it has to be an idea that's never been conceived of before - something that is totally brand new and innovative.
This isn’t true.
Just look at Microsoft, Google, Apple – all of these started in existing industries. These businesses simply came along to and decided they could do better – so they did.
Look at Google - there was Altavista, and Lycostar, Yahoo – many options. Google decided it would double down on speed – and look where they are now. There were other graphical user interfaces - the Atari ST for example - however Microsoft decided it would double down on distribution. It worked out!
Apple, exactly the same, the iPhone wasn't the first smartphone despite what people like you to believe. I know I certainly had phones before – I had an Orange SPV, I had a Palm Trio, this stuff was out there before. Apple just decided to package it in a design net basis rather than a functionality net basis. So a USP doesn't have to be something completely innovative, but it needs to be something that resonates with the customer.
Now I believe that a USP can either be something that you do internally OR it can be something in the way you promote externally. However, both of those have to end up being translatable to the outside market. So, if it’s down to your operational systems i.e. something in-house like your processes or your systems that allows you to do things better, faster, cheaper, you need to find a way to message that effectively to your end customer. If it’s something that's external – let’s use Apple's design lead methodology as a good example as it speaks for itself - just keeping it internal doesn't do the job because a USP that no one knows about isn't a USP at all.
So sit back, think about your business - what is your USP? Then ask five customers what they believe your USP is. If the two combine, then fantastic – you have absolutely nailed this. If not, go back to the drawing board.