A company’s USP or ‘unique selling point/proposition’ can typically be put down to a couple of paragraphs defining what they do and how they do it.
For what seems like a relatively simple task it’s startling how often this critical element is underused and frankly, wasted.
The problem a lot of us get is that when we sit down to write about our business, perhaps in an About Us section, is that it inevitably ends up sounding just like the competition.
Let’s say you’re an ironing board manufacturer (boring example I know but there’s a point). It quickly becomes too tedious or outright difficult to try and think about what makes your product different to the next one, plus it’s easier to copy what everyone else does.
The same can be said for many products and services.
Other people offer the same thing and it works for them. So why not copy their language and format?
It’s a reasonable step in logic and one we’ve all been guilty of taking.
So how do you find your company’s unique selling point and why should it matter to your audience?
Here’s a brief rundown of what makes a strong USP and why it’s so important to get it right.
Finding the ‘thing’ that makes you, you.
Really start thinking about your story, how the business came to be, and what your mission is.
Why do you want to make pillowcases that use bamboo?
You may have suffered allergies in the past and had severe flare-ups caused by inferior materials commonly found in other brands.
Or you’re a hot sleeper and the natural cooling properties of bamboo reduce temperature and feel more comfortable.
These are great reasons to sell pillowcases but they don’t stand apart from what anyone else is saying. In other words, these are features, not benefits.
The essence of why you’re selling them is likely because you want to help others. People who have suffered similar problems and you want them to experience a better way to sleep.
So instead of talking about the features (cooling, natural etc) try writing about the benefits (better night sleep, anti-allergy, affordable solution).
You might be peddling cloud computing software that offers CRM, accounting services and email security.
Again, it’s very easy to rattle off features for what it does but how are you convincing a customer to choose your product over a competitor offering the exact same thing?
By having a unique identity that speaks to your audience.
Tap into the why.
That’s where your USP lies.
Be transparent. In everything you say, everywhere you say it.
Some advertisements benefit from mystery in their branding (leaving things for the customer to discover, increasing their desire to talk about it post-discovery) but I’m not talking about that here.
With copywriting, our job is to make it clear to the reader. So they know exactly what they’re getting at every stage of their engagement.
If someone fires up a Google search and ends up on your page, you have literally seconds to hold their interest before they click the back button.
No, don’t create a huge pop-up banner that screams – “BUY MY PRODUCT! I’LL GIVE YOU 50% OFF!” – that’s lazy and devalues your service before you even get started.
Instead, use your USP to forge an immediate connection that prompts them to read on and explore your site, then hopefully makes a purchase.
If they like what they read, you’ll already begin to build trust and simultaneously increase your product’s perceived value.
This is a biggy for me.
In fact, I would go as far as to say that a company’s tone of voice, is the one thing that holds it all together.
Great branding and imagery can fall flat when it’s not backed up with a discernible tone.
As humans, we seek out other people that share our ideologies. We form friendships and relationships over common ground, shared interests, and values.
When we find a brand that shares these too, we naturally become fully invested almost immediately.
We love them. And we let our friends and colleagues know all about it.
Finding a tone of voice that embodies your company is not an easy thing to do.
Even if you’re a one-man-band entrepreneur, it still requires a ton of research and some inward thinking about who your ideal audience is.
But hey, that’s what writers are for.
And There You Have It
As promised, that was a brief rundown of some key elements for making a great USP.
Hopefully, I’ve sparked a brain or opened an eye (or two) and as always, feel free to respectfully share your thoughts and comments.