What are the unique characteristics that make your organization valuable to potential customers? If you had the classic 15-second elevator ride with a key prospect, what would you say to them?
Most likely you would struggle with a muddled sense of what your organization does but fail to present a cohesive and compelling introduction. How convenient it would have been if you were ready with a well-crafted Unique Selling Proposition (USP). A good USP accomplishes several objectives:
- Differentiates your organization
- Identifies the benefit(s) of dealing with your organization
- Supports your brand
- Engages the listener and creates interest
The concept of a Unique Selling Proposition goes back to the 1940s and has been used ever since to help marketers and salespeople focus on key statements that could influence potential buyers. Whether the buyer is a consumer or a business, and whether they’re searching for a service, a product or even an association to join, a USP can be instrumental in influencing their decision. Regardless of what you’re selling, the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively will help you be more successful.
A well-crafted Unique Selling Proposition is very powerful as it guides your marketing content and tone. It typically finds its way into your advertising copy. And moving beyond words, consider how you could incorporate your USP in processes and procedures, influencing the organization’s culture.
Here are five key points to consider when crafting your Unique Selling Proposition.
- Be Specific: You don’t have time for a backstory; immediately hone in on the benefits you offer that distinguishes your organization. Remember that the point is not simply to enumerate why your organization is good, but why it is UNIQUE. Specify what makes you ideal in comparison to others.
- Be Succinct: Clearly and quickly state your case. Your audience doesn’t need a description of how you do what you do (unless that is what makes you unique), however they do need sufficient context to determine any relevance for them. Include the context they need within your simple and short statement.
- Be Compelling: It’s essential that you grab them right away. What’s in it for them? If they don’t care, they won’t listen, not even for 15 seconds. Consider not only how your service/product is relevant, but how it will make their life better. Present it in a compelling manner to give your statement more impact and grab their attention.
- Be Consistent: Support your brand and organizational raison d’être. Not only does this make sense to positively position your organization, but if there is a disconnect between your USP and your established branding, or way of doing business, it can cause confusion and mistrust.
- Be Honest: You want your statement to have impact and even be a little dramatic, but this isn’t the time for hyperbole. If your USP is not genuine it will sound like a sales schpeel, and that won’t interest anyone. If prospects don’t feel they can trust you, they won’t be interested in hearing any further from you. (And don’t forget that if you are successful, you have to deliver on what you’ve promised.)
Your organization may require several USPs to effectively address distinct audiences for different services/products, or for different market segments. You won’t be able to be specific, succinct and compelling if you’re trying to talk to many different audiences at the same time. It would be more strategic, and successful, to customize your USP for each targeted market segment.
This can be quite a process and it may take some time to hone your USPs until you feel they properly represent your organization. After you have internal consensus, I suggest vetting your draft USPs with clients and suppliers. Do the hard work and you’ll be ready to start riding the elevators with anticipation of that perfect prospect to walk in. Admittedly, that may never happen. But you will be involved in sales calls and networking when you’ll definitely have the opportunity to succinctly and compellingly state your organization’s value. And you’ll shine — you know what they say, “Luck favours the well-prepared.”