What is a unique selling proposition?

July 6 2021

Unikalna propozycja sprzedaży
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Ever-growing customer expectations require a more effective marketing strategy. It needs to have important points leading to increased sales. One of the biggest of them is called a unique selling proposition or unique selling point. It’s a feature that makes your product stand out on a market. If you want to sell more, you must have it.

Unique selling proposition – what is it and how you can use it?

USP is marketing in a nutshell. You need to steer communication in the right direction to highlight your product and make it unique on a market. There is no other way; competition is fearless. It’s like in internet memes: Be yourself, everyone else is already taken (originally by Oscar Wilde). I always emphasize a simple fact: looking at your competition doesn’t make sense in a long run. You need to monitor the competition, analyze it. Sometimes you can be inspired by the competition but not copy it. A marketing strategy doesn’t work that way. 

You need a real innovation, and this can be achieved only by offering something truly new. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, at least in most cases. Sometimes it’s best to modify and enhance already existing solutions. It doesn’t change the main point, though: a unique selling proposition and examples of its usage show that every company should have it.

A unique selling proposition is based on discovering, designing, and introducing a totally new product. It blends into an already existing company’s offer and it’s a product that is available only because of this given company. Consumers clearly know that the product is unique.

Sometimes, however, a unique selling proposition is a unique selling value. The feature that differentiates the product from the competition’s offer. Sometimes it’s something small but very important, as the click wheel on iPod. People didn’t know what it was. They didn’t know they need it. When they have experienced the use of it in their daily routines, they understood a simple thing – they couldn’t live without it. Overnight, all other .mp3 players became obsolete.

What is the strength of a unique selling proposition?

Exactly – experiences. A lot of people still ask: “USP, what is it?” The real question should be: “how can we design our offer and marketing strategy so USP could translate into customers’ needs and enrich their experiences?”

Today customers have widely different expectations. Streaming services, online stores, mobile applications, and even traditional shops transformed the landscape and made experiences the base of their business operations. This means, within respectable contexts, of course, seamless navigation through options, unique functionalities, exemplary feedback after a face-to-face conversation with a salesman.

When Disney+ streaming service entered the market, it wouldn’t reinvent the wheel. It copied the interface from Netflix. Thanks to that, the navigation experience was similar for customers. They didn’t need to learn a new scheme and pattern. What Disney+ did was to introduce a wide range of content and brands. Under one roof, a subscriber has the access to Disney’s movies and series. It can watch National Geographic, Marvel, and Pixar. Sure, the company tells people that the cheapest version of the subscription is $6.99 for a month and it’s still $6 less than what Netflix has to offer. But it’s not the value. The value is an experience of paying one fee for access to truly groundbreaking content.

The FedEx has the slogan “When it absolutely positively has to be there overnight”. Or had, the company doesn’t use it anymore. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s a perfect marketing claim and a unique selling proposition in one take. If you want your package to be there overnight and it really has to happen that way, you have the FedEx for it.

M&Ms is a similar case: “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand”. Chocolate so good, it melts under the right conditions. Claim and a fantastic USP. In both cases target audience to value the meaning of a fulfilled promise. 

The real power of a unique selling proposition comes from:

  • real value for your customers
  • value’s uniqueness and its correlation with your company (you don’t look at your competition but do things your way)
  • doing something truly unique, therefore distract customers from similar products or solutions
  • marketing strategy is easier to design because it’s based on something new on a market

Marketing strategy with the unique selling proposition

Exactly, that’s another important element. Offering customers something unique is not enough anymore. You have to tell him about it in the right way. And here’s where the challenge begins. Many companies don’t know how to use storytelling in their content strategy. What is most important today is designing a story, a narration that can be embedded in the company’s and product’s image.

We call it narration for a reason. Increasing sales is often not possible without a unique selling point. It’s even harder without the story – they are what stays in our memory, in our mind. Could we really remember M&Ms commercials if the product’s slogan went like this: “you can eat them comfortably?” It’s a rhetorical question…

With a unique selling proposition, the whole challenge is based on designing something that the customer will be driven to. For a longer period, not only one time. Then, you have to create a proper image in his head, to make them remember about the product. This is similar to what books and movies do with our minds. This is the way your company should operate.

O Autorze

Jarosław Ścislak

Pracowałem nad brandingiem, rebrandingiem, skalowaniem biznesu i strategiami contentowymi dla wielu firm. Tworzyłem strategie marketingowe, contentowe, budowałem od zera działy marketingu, szkoliłem juniorów. Mogę skutecznie pomóc. Poprzez tworzenie kluczowych procesów i integrację ich w jeden ekosystem sprawię, że Twoja firma będzie pracowała dla Ciebie, a nie na odwrót. Część usług które widzisz w mojej ofercie (np. rozwój sklepów e-commerce w opozycji do platform e-commerce) wprowadziłem na rynek jako pierwszy w Polsce.