Small Business Management 101: Determining Your Unique Selling Proposition

All successful businesses have one thing in common: a unique selling proposition or USP. It is what drew customers to them in the first place, the reason they’re able to favorably position themselves in the market, and the force that propelled them to success. Even small business owners like you can enjoy the same marketing edge when we build your unique selling proposition of your small business and use it extensively in your advertising and marketing efforts.

Why Develop Your Unique Selling Proposition?

Today’s market is very competitive. You cannot survive by being just one of the many providers. This is also the age of specialization, so you need to differentiate yourself and respond to the needs of a special niche in the market where you can establish your value and be highly visible. With your USP, you are telling your target market why you are the best if not the only choice they have.

Your unique selling proposition becomes your tool to put your brand in place and that is how your customers remember you. For example, most people automatically think of FedEx if they want packages delivered quickly. FedEx's USP is: "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight." Another great example is Head and Shoulders and its claim of "you get rid of dandruff".

What is Unique Selling Proposition?

The unique selling proposition was a theory put forward by marketers in the 1940s to explain the success behind certain advertising campaigns during that time. Today, corporations and big businesses develop their marketing campaigns based on what is special and different about them from which the customers will benefit. Unique selling proposition is more than a slogan. It is a single statement of your uniqueness and what you offer to your current and potential customers. Then again, your USP should be more than words. You must also be able to deliver as you promise and you must do it well.

How to Create Your Unique Selling Proposition

When working on your USP, you need to take a good look into your business and take stock of what you can offer your customers. It has to be distinctively yours, something that others do not, will not, or cannot provide. If you find many things that make you different, identify which one to focus on. It should be the most important consideration for your customer or something that your competitors cannot easily imitate.

Let's say you’re in the bed and breakfast business. See what is different in your place compared to the other B&Bs in the area. Perhaps your house is the oldest in the community. You can romanticize the history of your house to make it part of your guests’ experience. If you’re a pet sitter who can also teach animal tricks, highlight your skills. If you’re a transcriptionist who can type incredibly fast and edit your output before submitting it, sell your speed and accuracy. You may also want to identify any "performance gap" or needs of your customers that are not fulfilled by other providers. A good example is availability, anytime a client needs your service without need for prior arrangement, or being there within fifteen minutes from the time the client calls.

Sum up your offerings in one concise statement that will convince the market you’re just the person they need. You have to be clear and specific, and be prepared to offer proof. Remember, people are wary of advertising claims so live up to your words. You should also integrate your USP in all your advertising materials and even in your business forms. When done properly, your unique selling proposition will bring you more customers and bigger sales.

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Aloha, I'm an online marketing and SEO professional based in Honolulu, HI. I started On The First Page Marketing because I believe that small businesses have finally been given the chance to compete on a level playing field with large corporations. Small business owners are incredibly passionate and hard working. I enjoy every day that I get to work with them on growing and achieving success.