So, what makes you unique? What’s your USP and how is your business differentiated?
As part of my 4P’s and CORE IDEA framework, POINT OF DIFFERENCE (PoD) forms the second ‘P’. Your point of difference is the positive statements of differentiation in the market place against your competitors – your competitive advantage. With many other businesses in the market place selling the same product, the notion of being unique or different is in one hand a redundant concept, and in the other, compellingly necessary.
A good brand has a distinct PoD that leads your market positioning, this in turn helps define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of your product characteristics, price structure, promotion and placement/distribution strategy.
In order to craft your irresistible USP from your PoD, we should begin with defining the differences between these key terms in this area of positioning:
What is Point of Difference?
Point of Difference describes how you differ from your competition and is synonymous with Competitive Advantage. Your PoD:
Comes from the DISCOVERY process in evaluating your business using the framework, opportunity and positioning mapping and research.
Is not your USP.
Leads to your Positioning.
What is Positioning?
Positioning is how you wish your customer to think of you, as such it’s the space you occupy in the mind of the customer. It is a marketing exercise in owning a space in the minds of the customers.
This is a great exercise I do with clients on a 2-dimensional matrix – it can be any defining factors such as speed, scale, high or low touch etc. By plotting your competitors against two axes, you can see where there is opportunity and where you want to position yourself.
What is Proposition?
Dr Dennis Price of retail strategist Ganador, captures this perfectly in this simple equation:
“Proposition is the overlap and combination of the Product x Price x Brand.
Product x Price = OFFER.
OFFER + BRAND = PROPOSITION.”
Every business has a proposition; the strategic question is to ask whether there is a market for its proposition. Ask yourself if there is a market for what you are offering, at your price point and with your differentiated points – or is it wishful thinking?!
What is Unique Selling Proposition?
Some may argue that in today’s global and connected market, the concept of being ‘unique’ is somewhat unachievable. But your USP is the accumulation of point of difference, the product or services characteristics, your price point and where you wish to sell it; which gives an opportunity for a unique combination. It’s the individual stamp that you can put on your business, to tell a specific audience the definitive thing that you do best.
Also check out these blog post to help you build you brand:
How these work together
Dr Dennis Price illustrates this beautifully in this table of these marketing concepts, with the example of a retailer that sells directly imported homewares:
Brand Essence Australian, Local, Friendly, Laid-back
Prices Below Market
Offer Value Homeware
Proposition Hassle-free, Value Homewares
Positioning Statement The Easy Option
USP No worries
Why do I need a USP?
Studies show that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day (mind: blown). Consumers cannot, nor wish to, re-evaluate services and products every time they need to make a purchase. This is where positioning comes into play – boxes of association we categorise products and services into as consumers: for example, the budget supermarket, the great shopping experience supermarket and the overpriced-but-worth-it-as-a-treat supermarket (we all know that one!).
USP is simply how you would describe your positioning statement to a customer, this helps customers to quickly categorise your brand based on what you communicate and offer, and decide why or when they should choose you above the competition.
Finding your uniqueness
Here are a few points to consider when defining your PoD and turning it into your USP. The ultimate questions you need to answer are:
We are unique because…
The proof points are…
We sell to..
We deliver …….. benefits to them
We solve …….. problems for them
If you can’t answer these, you will struggle to develop an effective USP.
It needs to be short, succinct and connect emotionally and effectively, or you risk alienating people and them losing interest. So, where to begin?
DISCOVERY – do your research
I work with a Double Diamond process with all my clients: DISCOVERY > DEFINE > DESIGN > DELIVER. The DISCOVERY phase is often overlooked and yet is so critical to understanding where and what you’re getting your brand into.
Ask yourself which products exist that could fill the same gaps as yours, and what USPs your competitors have. To learn as much as possible, check out your competitor’s marketing materials, language, designs and channels to market.
Consider creating personas for your target audience - their characteristics, preferences, desires, pains and ideals.
As mentioned in Positioning definition, I like to do a matrix exercise that pitches you against the competition against two point of measurement. Often gaping holes in current market offerings can become very clear.
Have you identified a space that you can own to offer a desirable product or service?
Know your benefits
Listing the strengths and weaknesses of your own brand in comparison to your competition will highlight your specific benefits. For example, you may have a lower price point, higher quality, or customer experience focussed than other brands in the market. Select one of these and focus on that. The more you can distinguish yourself from similar brands, the more memorable you become.
Remember, you need to offer proof points of these benefits to make your unique selling proposition more impactful, so avoid being vague or difficult to establish a solid argument.
Have you nailed the problems you solve for your audience and can deliver clear benefits against these?
Using your USP
Work with your team to come up with a short sentence that acts as a slogan that captures these points. Test it and refine it until you nail your USP. I call this the business script – or elevator pitch: is a great way to condense what makes your company special into something you can use to inform your brand. Consider the following points in the script:
Who is your company for?
What do they need?
What’s the name?
What makes it different?
Your USP should be reflected in everything you communicate, so once you’ve decided who your perfect customer is, how your business can solve their problems, and why they should choose you over the competition, you’ll need to establish how you’re going to cement your USP across your marketing activities.
With your USP in mind, you can consistently design, create advertisements and communicate a cohesive and memorable experience for your customers: you can create a brand that’s yours and unique.
Discover YOUR PoD and USP
Your unique selling proposition needs to be:
Easy to remember.
Your USP helps you to refine your purpose, as we discussed last week.
Since a strong unique selling point has the power to make or break your business in competitive industries, it’s not a simple task. If you can find the right Pod, Proposition, Positioning and USP, this can form the solid platform for your brand and marketing strategy, ensuring that you can speak directly to YOUR audience – rather than succumbing to all the noise in the market.
You are unique, how will you create your USP?
Find your point of difference, begin building the brand you LOVE.
Next time – we will explore the next step in building your brand: Principles.