A USP is a Unique Selling Proposition. It is a statement that defines what is so unique about your business that a consumer should do business with you. Do not confuse this with a "catch phrase" or a "slogan". Although many times they are one in the same. A USP is a proposition to make me want to do business with you.
It could be pricing, warranty, guarantee, extra service etc..
Some great examples are:
Fedex: "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight."
Dominos: "Hot, Fresh Pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free."
Burger King: "Have It Your Way"
Enterprise Rental Car: "We Pick You Up"
Avis: "We’re #2, So We Try Harder"
Each one of those tells YOU as the customer what you get from them that you will not get from anyone else. FedEx was the only shipping company to deliver overnight guaranteed. Dominos was the first to guarantee the delivery in 30 minutes or you don’t pay. Burger King was the first fast food chain to let you customize your food. Enterprise was the first to pick you up when you needed a rental car. Avis leveraged the fact that they just couldn’t get to #1.
Now of course today many business can copy a USP and start to offer the same but when you are the leader the damage is already done. You have already grabbed the customer and if the rest of your marketing is done right you have gained them for life.
Is Your Business Unique?
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be unique. But many times businesses are just a copy of the guy down the street. Quite often they even look the same, offer the same products and/or services, they even advertise in all the same places. If you are no different then Pizza shop down the road, then why should I eat there? Why does your business even exist?
One question I will often ask a new client is "Why should I do business with you?" I always get the same answers, "Well cause we’re the best!" Really? Cause the guy down the street said they were the best. So how do I know? I am certainly not going to stand here and do some comparative scientific tests before I choose. I need something now and I have to choose one of you.
I will many times have to tell the client that they cannot use words like "best", "excellence", "service", or "unique". Then it gets interesting. I have even on more than one occasion, heard a business owner say "Hmm, I really don’t know why you should do business with me."
Shocking but it is the reality. Without being unique, you are just one more choice for a customer and are lucky if they choose you.
Differentiate or Die
You have to set yourself apart from the competition. If you have nothing unique about your business, then create something. Offer extra value, a longer warranty, an amazing guarantee, something that says you are different.
I use to drive to BlockBuster Video all the time to rent movies. Then Netflix came out and we signed up with them. Then BlockBuster came out with a similar program to Netflix but you could also exchange your videos in the store, so I went back to them. Then BlockBuster for some really weird reason started dropping benefits and Netflix came out with live streaming. So guess what? I am back with Netflix.
What happened there? The company who offered something different and unique was the one that got my business.
So what makes you unique? Did you go in business to do the exact same thing as your competition? Or did you want to be better? If so, what are you doing that is better?