starbucks coffee

To effectively sell your product or service you need to be able to define what it is that you do. This may seem like a no-brainer but all too often in our business we have meetings with potential clients and they have a hard time articulating what makes them different or unique. This is especially important when your product or service is similar to those around you. Very few businesses are truly one-of-a-kind.

The key to effectively selling what you do in this situation is what advertising and marketing professionals call a “unique selling proposition” (USP). Unless you can pinpoint what makes your business unique, it will be much more challenging to successfully market your business. Think of a USP as your differentiator, the foundation of what you do that makes customers choose you over your competition.

Starbucks is the first stop I make in the morning. I was standing in line this morning and I realized that Starbucks would make a great example case study on unique selling propositions. They went from a small coffee shop in Washington to one of the most recognized brands in America. They transformed this country from a nation of Maxwell House drinkers to a nation of coffee connoisseurs.

As I was standing in line, I asked myself: “What is Starbucks known for” The answer for me was simple: They stand for premium coffee beverages, and they’re known for the same.

They’re not known for premium coffee beverages AND the lowest prices. If they did, they wouldn’t stand out from the corner gas stations. If they instead tried to compete head to head with gas stations on price, quality would suffer, and their product wouldn’t be unique. They wouldn’t be able to be known for premium coffee.

Discovering Your USP

Here are few tips/ideas to help uncover your unique selling proposition.

What Problem Are You Solving?

From your clients’ perspective, what is the individual need or challenge they face that your business can solve for them?

Who’s Your Target Audience

You must know who you are targeting and it’s important to be as specific as possible. A few things to consider, what age are most of your clients, are they mostly male or female, are they segmented by geography or income.

Learn what motivates your customers’ behavior and buying decisions.

Effective marketing requires you to know what drives and motivates customers. It can be very helpful to push beyond the traditional customer demographics and spend time analyzing your sales trends. For example, it’s not enough to know that 75 percent of your customers are in the 35 to 45 age range. You need to look at their motives for buying your product or service, its price, convenience, service and so on.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

Too often, business owners fall in love with their product or service and forget that it’s the customer’s needs, not their own, that they must satisfy. Step back from your day-to-day and carefully scrutinize what your customers really want.

What Are Your biggest Benefits?

List a few of the biggest benefits a client gets from choosing to work with you that they couldn’t get from someone else. Again, it’s important that you approach this from the clients’ perspective, these benefits should explain why your services/products are important to them and why they would choose you over another provider.

Uncover the real reasons customers buy your product.

As your business grows, you’ll be able to ask your best source of information: your customers. For example, the pizza entrepreneur could ask customers why they like his pizza over others, plus ask them to rate the importance of the features he offers, such as taste, size, ingredients, atmosphere, and service. You will be surprised how honest people are when you ask how you can improve your service.

There should be some recurring ideas and thoughts as you start to answer these questions, so you’ll want to start merging statements in a way that flows and makes sense. Finally, see if you can take your overall statements and ideas and condense it even more into just a sentence. You want your final USP to be as specific and simple as possible.

Figuring out and then communicating what truly sets you apart may be a tricky process. As tempting as it sounds, your business simply cannot be all things to all people. Once you unlock and hone your USP, you will be better able to focus your message and reach new customers.

Not sure where to start, or how to communicate your USP? Contact us today, and we’d be happy to help!