To Develop A Powerful USP For Your Direct Marketing Business.
A USP is an ultimate statement of benefit, or the single most compelling
reason why a customer should buy from you over your competition.
Why You Need a USP:
One of the first steps in creating a marketing plan is developing a USP,
or Unique Selling Proposition (sometimes called a Unique Selling Point
or a positioning statement). A USP is an ultimate statement of benefit,
or the single most compelling reason why a customer should buy from you
over your competition. In a short, meaningful, specific sentence, a USP
describes your primary distinguishing feature to your target market and
lets them know what’s in it for them if they do business with you.
According to Rosser Reeves, the author of “Reality in Advertising” who
coined the USP, the three requirements for a USP are:
1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the customer: "buy this
product, and you will get this specific benefit."
2. The proposition itself must be unique - something that competitors do
not, or will not, offer.
3. The proposition must be strong enough to pull new customers to the
Some of the most well known USP examples:
Domino's Pizza - "You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30
minutes or less."
FedEx - "Your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight"
M&M's - "The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand"
Wonder Bread - "It helps build strong bones 12 ways"
But what if such a proprietary advantage does not exist? What if your
product is basically the same as your competition’s, with no special
distinguishing? Check this out: Once M&M established their USP: M&Ms
melt in your mouth, not in your hand" - what could the competition do?
Run an ad that said, "We also melt in your mouth, not in your hand!"? It
reminds me of an example from the book Scientific Advertising by Claude
Hopkins that has gone on to become a classic story used to describe
USPS. It goes something like this:
“Schlitz Beer had hired Hopkins to increase their falling market share.
At the time the beer companies were frantically buying bigger and bigger
advertising space to promote the word PURE. Everyone said their beer was
pure, but no one bothered to explain to the public what “pure” meant.
The first thing Hopkins did was take a tour of the Schlitz Brewery. He
was shown plate-glass rooms filled with filtered air where beer was
dripped over pipes to cool without any impurities. He was shown huge
expensive filters that were each cleaned twice daily to ensure the
products purity. He notices that each bottle was sterilized four
separate times before being filled with beer. He was even shown 4,000
foot deep artesian wells dug to provide the cleanest, purest water
available, even though the factory was right on the shore of Lake
Michigan (which at the time was not polluted and could still provide
After his tour Hopkins exclaimed, “Why don’t you tell people these
things?” The company responded that every beer manufacturer does it the
same way. To that Hopkins replied, “But others have never told this
story…” And Hopkins went on to create an advertising campaign that
explained to people exactly what makes Schlitz beer pure. It was
highlighted with the tagline “Schlitz beer bottles – Washed with live
steam”. He told the same story any brewer could have, but he gave
meaning to purity. That is what took Schlitz from 5th place to tie for
1st place in market share.”
Creating a USP for Your Business:
When developing the USP for your business it can be helpful to try
thinking in the customer’s point of view: why should they buy from you,
not why you should sell to them. Your USP should state what the most
important benefit is to the customer in the target market you are trying
to reach. Trying to appeal to everyone will not give you an effective
USP. Focus on the clients that are your greatest income makers and
direct the USP to them. You want to attract the ideal client, not just
Here are some questions that a USP should answer:
- What problem are you the answer to?
- What quality makes you different, better or more desirable than the
- What opportunity can you present to potential customers that others
can or do not?
- Why should people buy from you?
When answering some of these questions, it is not enough to say “Our
service is better,” or “Our product is better quality.” These statements
are not compelling reasons to choose your business over any other
Also be sure to focus on a uniqueness that is actually meaningful to
your customers. Building your USP around a feature is relatively
unimportant to potential customers, and will not move them to try your
product or service.
You can start by crafting a statement that defines what makes your
product or service unique and special. You might want to start with a
long statement of two or three paragraphs, and then work from there. If
you already have an existing business, ask clients what they value
most about the way you do business? And also ask yourself: "In what ways
do I benefit my customers?"
Continue editing your statement until it is short, snappy, to the point
and describes your uniqueness in a way your customers care about. Once
you get your USP finalized, start sharing it with your target market,
and let them know what you can do for them. Plaster your USP in your
marketing materials, at networking events, on your business cards, on
your website and any other time you are given the opportunity.
Just remember, a USP is free, easy to duplicate and communicate, and
above all, tells your prospects what's in it for them if they do
business with you. Be sure to take the time to properly develop a USP
that will work for you, your business and your target market.
Justin Michie is a well respected Internet Marketer and author of the
brand new Internet Marketing book “Street Smart Internet Marketing”,
To download his free e-book titled “99 Internet Marketing Tips – That
You’ll Want to Know” go to