Use a powerful USP

 Usp1A unique selling proposition is what an USP stands for. It sets the business apart from others – its competitors because it sounds the uniqueness, and the distinctiveness of the business can be anything. Therefore a lot of serious thought needs to be given by the entrepreneur while attempting to design a USP: he/she should avoid of attempting to be known for everything but go for the specific. While promoting the product an advertising agency has limitations of words and space – nobody has time to look at lengthy advertisement so just in few words the uniqueness should be promoted.  It’s always better for an organization to find a good USP plank on which it can build its marketing strategies. USP gives the four P’s of marketing mix i.e Product, Price, Place and Promotion its quintessence.

The expression USP was coined in 1940’s. After a lot of research it was found that advertising campaigns become successful when few words or phrases are used in advertising campaigns. The idea of using a campaign is that customers are made aware of the product and they buy it. The product is advertised based on its strengths; and customers buy it only after knowing its benefits. USP helps marketers to differentiate it from other products. USP thus informs customers how the product is different when it is displayed on a crowded shelf. Lack of a strong differentiating characteristic means the new business, product or service has lesser chances to thrive. If there is a strong differentiator, however, the venture has a good chance of being successful.

Usp2Look at the earlier USP of Federal Express (FedEx): “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” with this USP, FedEX reigned over the package shipping market. The message was crisp and clear. FedEx was hardly the first private parcel delivery service but it quickly became the market leader. With regional, national and international services, FedEx has been filling the need for a reliable way to send packages. Over the years it has expanded its reach through acquisition of similar companies as well as adding retail locations. FedEx maintains its delivery time, its quality is consistent and its improvement is ongoing.

In today’s competitive market, customers keenly check USPs and taglines, place of manufacturing, ingredients, manufacturing dates everything. A business thrives on uniqueness and innovation used. The USP should be a cut through the clutter which separates the business from others.

Let’s now look at the USP of Philips which is a conglomerate operating in consumer lifestyle, healthcare and lighting. Their USP is “Improving people’s life through meaningful innovation” the USP stresses on innovation and today innovation is key to a corporation’s survival. It has a very strong R&D portfolio, with 7 active R&D centers across the globe. Today Philips operates in more than 110 countries and is growing in leaps and bounds.

However, it takes lot of thought and hard work to organize USPs; it is an extremely difficult job.  And as soon as one company creates a successful USP in a market, many competitors try to copy it. The relevance of an USP has to match the company’s business and operation and its target customers. When an organization has several USPs, it’s becomes difficult for customers to differentiate between its all USPs.

It may seem obvious to say so but a USP is not a USP when it is irrelevant to the product or when there is no competition. As soon as it is copied by competitors it is no longer unique. For example, say you are the first to offer a money back guarantee – this is a strong USP until competitors losing business to you do the same. And if you cannot deliver what you claim in the USP it is false and can have a serious effect on your business. Another mistake many businesses make is the mistake of attempting to stand for everything when they first get started. They want to do everything well, and they want to be all things to all people. They want to be known for having the highest quality products and the lowest prices. This does not work. A business commits to its customers what it can offer through its USP.

Usp3Zappos – the online shoes, clothing mart in Las Vegas, Nevada has a unique selling proposition that is quite simple: “Have the best return policy ever. A return policy that removes the fear of buying online and buying shoes that might not fit”.

Since many online stores compete only on prices. But, Zappos offers the most customer friendly shipping policies and best customer service in the industry. Zappos stands out from the crowd by making a stand for the best customer service and free shipping, and they have been able to sell shoes at a higher price due to the fact that they stand out from the competition.

Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, always used to say he sold hope, not makeup. Some airlines sell timely flights while some sell friendly service; Gucci sells luxury bags, while Wal-Mart sells bargains. Remember, USP is not an introductory paragraphs, it is generally a phrase or sentence. It should not be rambling. The more concise it is, the better it sounds and gets better results.

Usp4Iodex a pain reliever balm is more than 100 years old. With a USP “A heritage brand with a time tested formulation that provides relief from all kinds of pain”. Historically known as a “black salve”, Iodex contains iodine which has both antiseptic and antibacterial properties essential for wound healing. It’s a heritage brand in India, which is available in every household. In true sense it is a time-tested formulation and of course a heritage brand.

Usp5A business should have a sustainable competitive advantage which adds value to its products/service uniqueness; it sets the business apart from the competitors. While setting a USP the business needs to answer some questions: whether the product’s uniqueness in a price leadership; in product differentiation; in packaging; a specific feature; in delivery; in multiple usages.  The best USPs directly addresses a precise need experienced by an ideal customer. A great unique selling proposition is short, crisp and emphasizes product’s quality from its competition.

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Over the course of my life, I have done all possible jobs that one can think of – front desk assistant, telephone operator, clerical work, accounts assistant, inventory officer, sales woman, sales manager, tutor, lecturer, professor, director...etc. The range of job designations and experience of working in diverse roles has given me strength to think, help people, increase customer satisfaction, promote products, and off course build brands. When I look back at my career, in some jobs I excelled, in some I continued with odds. But the fact is that the diversity in my career has strengthened me as a person and definitely enhanced my skills. Every job taught me something or the other. I love meeting people, reading, travelling, listening to music, cooking, gardening, teaching, writing. Blogging has been a recent addition and am loving it. It has become my biggest hobby. Blogging has changed my life. My blog is wide-ranging manifestation of the way I think. I am a creative individual; I write because I have the urge to translate expressions of life. Over the years I studied and added some degrees as well. I have a PhD in Marketing Management from University of Pune, a post doctoral D.Litt (Doctor of letters) from Mumbai University in strategic management. I am a Professor of Management Studies with 16 years of teaching experience and have over 20 years industry experience. My core teaching areas are Marketing Strategy and General Management. As a teacher, I have always maintained the academic rigor in my classroom, I have always believed and practiced academic engagement while lecturing, I believe in experiential teaching-learning. I truly believe that education is interdisciplinary; therefore I have successfully guided 15 students for their PhD degree across various sectors in business management which includes a broad base of research coursework coupled with an area of specialization. I write on various management topics, research, news and higher education for students. And, the general section of articles on my blog relate to my interests in life. Happy reading to you all!

4 COMMENTS

  1. Use a powerful usp…really very thought provoking…as usp forms the bse of any advertisement…or jingle or tagline..and it this very tagline that is recalled by the customer & the product gets noticed on the shelf surrounded by n no of brands. ..One of the best examples prevailing even today the term “Xerox” is used by people instead of photocopying..Thank you for this great article.

  2. Simplistic approach, good and collaborating examples and easily understandable. Specifically the example of Iodex as a 100 years old brand being used in the entire nation as a unique selling point. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge for our understanding.

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