If you were asked to describe your business in a sentence or two, what would you say?
Would you say something like, "We're an electrical contractor serving the tri-county area that's been in business for 35 years."
Or, "We do commercial and residential plumbing jobs and offer free estimates."
Or, "We're a local landscaper that mows lawns and removes leaves and plows snow."
Yes? Thought so. Most business owners, when posed that same question, would offer a similar description of their products and services. They'd mention where they're located, how long they've been in business, and maybe a few of the things they offer.
That may be well and good but... doesn't everyone offer free estimates? Don't most plumbers do residential and commercial work? Don't all landscapers mow laws and remove leaves and plow snow? Those descriptions wouldn't make you stand out in the crowd, would they? How can those descriptions possibly set you apart from the competition?
And that's the point of USPs-Unique Selling Propositions. USPs are marketing taglines or phrases that brands incorporate in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. USPs must be unique, must make you stand out, but they have to be true, too. You can't just make up some catchy phrase and start throwing it around as your USP. Genuine and authentic is the name of the game.
You've seen USPs everywhere, you just may not realize it. Consider:
"Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in thirty minutes or less---or it's free."
Recognize that? It's the Domino's Pizza USP. And they stand behind their claim. Notice the tagline says nothing about the quality of the pizza, just that they'll get it to your door quickly. That's what makes that USP so noteworthy and effective. All pizza places claim to have the best pizza in town, but what other joint claims to get pizza to your door quickly? Domino's was the first to make that claim, and to this day they're still the only one. Domino's isn't the best pizza around, but it is the fastest. Bingo! An authentic (and effective) USP.
How about this USP:
"Melts in your mouth, not in your hand."
Of course you recognize the M&M tagline. Most chocolatiers tout the creamy taste of their chocolate, or the robust flavor, or the health benefits. Not M&Ms. Their tagline doesn't seem to take the taste of the chocolate into consideration, just that M&Ms won't burden you with sticky fingers. What other chocolate claims to do that?
Now, not all USPs have to be recognizable. They really just have to describe what's unique about your brand or company in a sentence or two.
Consider the three examples given at the beginning.
Instead of: "We're an electrical contractor serving the tri-county area that's been in business for 35 years,"
How about: "We're the only electrical contractor in the tri-county area that pulls the work permit for free, giving our customers one less headache and expense to worry about."
Instead of: "We do commercial and residential plumbing jobs and offer free estimates."
How about: "Our free estimates come with a two-year warranty, the longest warranty offered by any residential plumbing contractor in the area."
Instead of: "We're a local landscaper that mows lawns and removes leaves and plows snow."
How about: "Sign a contract with Larry's Lawn Care for all your snow removal needs this winter and we'll mow your lawn for three weeks next summer-for free!"
See the difference. The first examples were flat, unmemorable, and offered nothing unique to set them apart from the competition. The edited versions are snappy, give a quick glimpse of what each company does, and offers a specific benefit to consumers.
Think of something you offer that none of your competition does. It may take some research on your part, but the payoff will be worth it. You'll be able to tell people quickly and honestly why they should do business with you and not the competition. That unique turn of phrase will set you apart and make people remember you