Your small business needs to be remarkable. It needs to stand heads and shoulders above your competition. When customers actively compare your small business to your competition, you want them to be compelled to choose you to the exclusion of everyone else. Sounds right? To do this, you need to be able to find your unique selling point and consistently deliver it.
Why do I Need a Unique Selling Point?
Each year the world is deluged with more brands and more choice. 2006 saw over 58,375 new products introduced throughout the World. This was more than double the number introduced in 2002.* Ouch. This means that your business has more and more competition and more and more clutter and noise to cut through.
As mentioned on the keys to small business success, a unique selling point is the differentiating benefit that your small business has over your competition. It’s the message aiming to cut through the clutter which drives customers to your small business. Your unique selling point needs to be different, relevant and valued by your target customers so they choose your small business to the exclusion of all others.
Your unique selling point must be simple to express and easy to understand. It must also be threaded through your entire business; from your business cards and catalogues, to your invoices, receipts and email signatures. You can never over communicate your point of difference. In short, if you’re sick of seeing your unique selling point you’re implementing it correctly.
You should also only focus on one unique selling point. This is easier for customers to identify with and remember. It also strengthens your focus and protects it from the competition.
*J Gerzema, E Lebar The Trouble with Brands, 2009
Brands that Successfully use a Unique Selling Point
OK, let’s step away from the theoretical classroom for a moment to see how real brands successfully champion a unique selling point.
- Photoshop: The premier image manipulation software
- Harley Davidson: The original motorcycle
- Dyson: The bagless vacuum cleaner that doesn’t lose suction
- Dove Soap: The soap with moisturising cream
- IKEA: Great value furniture you assemble yourself
- Wikipedia: The comprehensive free online encyclopedia
- Gatorade: The sports energy drink that helps you regain energy faster
- Black Berry: Access and send information anywhere, anytime
- Amazon: Get any book shipped to your door
It’s important to understand that these brands champion these selling points through consistent messaging over many years, usually decades. This consistent messaging helps solidify their unique selling point in the minds of customers, guarding it against competition.
Sure, there may be moisturising soaps apart from Dove, or a better motorbike than Harley Davidson – but it doesn’t matter. These brands have already won the minds of customers. Their perception is reality in the minds of their target customers.
And in business, perception is more important than reality.
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Having a unique selling point can be so powerful – especially if you’re selling one of the first products of it’s kind. I think of Hoover – one of the first companies to market a device that sucked up mess from the floor. Some people still refer to vacuum cleaners as Hoovers today! How powerful was their unique selling point! Another great blog, David.
.-= Jan Littlehales´s last blog ..Salmon Fillet Recipe – in Ten Minutes =-.
Great post. Agree with everything you have written here, especially about over selling your unique proposition.
.-= Eileen´s last blog ..Chocolate Easter Eggs =-.
Some great points in your blog, i must admit i am very influenced by Brand names when shopping for clothes, Food, etc, so I can see the importance of a unique selling point. Gets me in……… ; )
.-= BelindaO´s last blog ..10 Tips for Internet Marketing Promotion =-.
Thanks Jan. Being first to market always puts you ahead of the pack. You’re seen as the authority and the benchmark. Plus you can have a strange sounding name and people still know what you do.
@ Eileen, that’s right. You can get bored of over communicating your unique selling point, but that doesn’t mean your customers are sick of hearing about it. They may only hear about it once or twice a year, so you need to nail it at every opportunity.
Belinda, I’m influenced by brand names too – but the strength of this influence varies depending on the shopping category. The more knowledge I have about a product or service category, the less influence brand names have – as I know what to look for and which specifications to seek.
Spot on David! With your article and the names also have longevity too as it is a proven tactic.
Just the other day my son was advising me facts about Lego. We all know Lego no matter what age we are too. Did you know – If you built a Lego column using 40 billion bricks it would touch the moon. In total, kids all over Earth spend over five billion hours a year playing with Lego. 600 pieces of Lego are produced per second. Lego have sold over 400 billion Lego Bricks.
Your piece is very powerful and the proof is in the sales and time your mentioned Companies have been in business.
Great article thanks David.
.-= Cherie Rasmussen´s last blog ..Using Affiliate Resources To Your Advantage =-.
Hi David, great article. Do you have any good examples of USPs for small businesses?
A robust unique selling point is very difficult to find. You therefore need to concentrate on offering a comparable unique selling point that’s better that the competition. This is best done with product bundling. E.g offering extra levels of service or additional products which in turn increase the value of your offering. This makes customers assess the total value of your package, rather than just comparing one price to another which encourages price wars. I explain this further in finding your unique selling point