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Posted on 08.28.2014

Developing a Unique Selling Point

How does your business stand out among your competitors? What makes you different? If you can’t quickly answer those questions, you may be starting or running a business without a unique selling point (USP).

There are plenty of businesses like grocery stores and big box retailers that provide similar products, so what makes them unique? A USP provides a company with the point of differentiation it needs to stand out from the crowd and is the foundation for a solid marketing and sales strategy. An effective USP doesn’t need to be long ​or cumbersome; it should simply contain a piece of information to entice customers to use or purchase your product over that of a competitor.

One of the best examples of a successful, nationally-recognizable unique selling point is the one Avis used for many years, “We try harder.” Avis was the second leading car rental company behind Hertz and decided to capitalize on its silver medal standing and showcase the fact they may be number two, but they try harder to provide their customers with a positive experience.

Another example is how Domino’s distinguished itself during the pizza wars. It promised customers “fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.” Competitors weren’t promising a free dinner, so this effective USP quickly differentiated the company from its competitors. And, what about M&M’s touting the fact that their “chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hands?” Not every delicious chocolate candy can make that selling point.

Unique selling points are important to your marketing strategy and there are a few critical things to consider when developing one for your company.

  1. What makes you different than your competitors?

    Are you the lowest price (Ex: Walmart)? Do you provide luxury or the highest quality product (Ex: Neiman Marcus or Rolls Royce)? Do you provide a larger selection? Do you provide a better guarantee (Ex: Domino’s)? Are you faster? Friendlier?

  2. Who are your customers?

    To determine the unique selling point that will resonate with your target audience, you need a crystal clear understanding of to whom you are marketing. Start by analyzing demographics such as age, gender, income levels, location, etc., and also dive into their wants and needs.

  3. How do you match your unique selling point to your target audience?

    This is the “what’s in it for me” question. Your USP is basically the compelling reason your customer should use your product. Is it going to make their life happier, more efficient, easier?

Because I look for any opportunity to pay homage to my favorite city (Nashville), here are a few USPs developed by businesses headquartered in our community. 

If you are a country music fan, why would you think twice about where to travel to see a show? Obviously, you want to go to a venue that was responsible for making the music you love famous. 

We can all agree that cleaning the house isn’t fun. Sign me up for the vacuum that makes housework easier.

Two things that we can always use more of every single day are time and money. If Dollar General can save you some of both, isn’t it worth a trip?

Do you promote your company’s unique selling point? Do you have a favorite? Let me know. 


Robin Embry is a vice president at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Robin’s blogs here. Connect with Robin at robin@lovell.com

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