The goal of all business owners is to essentially create either a product or service to sell to a growing client and customer base with the hopes of turning a profit and expanding geographically, through the employee base, or otherwise. Now, there are many different barriers-to-entry precluding the way to becoming a successful business. Most businesses will have to learn to face competition, unless they have an extremely niche profession like a “Steel Drum Tuner” or “Olympic Curling Coach”. In this blog I will lay out the basics of the Unique Selling Proposition and how to make yourself stand out amongst your competitors.
A USP can be defined as “The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.” Let’s look at restaurants for a moment. We’ll use McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Chik-Fil-A as examples. Other than slight differences in taste, one could argue that McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s are the same at their respective cores. They are all fast food joints. What would make a consumer choose one over the other? There are two that McDonald’s uses that are very apparent.
The first is the dollar menu, sure they may have the same food as their competitors but where else would you get that value? Price Points are definitely a huge way to gain an edge over competitors, but it is also good to remember that people will pay more for a good or service of value to them, so it is your job to make sure that yours remains up to par with your competitors despite any price difference.
The second is their designation of their kid’s meal as a “Happy Meal.” It’s simple, sure, but it makes an emotional appeal to their consumer. “This isn’t just a meal, it’s happiness. Buying it will make you happy” The USP in this example is the emotional appeal, and many other companies use it. They make their consumers believe that they’re not just buying a product that fulfills a service, but an emotional need. Another lesson to be learned from this example is to include the inferred value of your product in its title. McDonald’s “Happy Meal” again the USP is happiness, Disney Theme Park’s “Fast Pass” where the value is speed of service, or Elmer’s “Extra-Strength Glue” the USP is durability. Find your USP and make it’s value easily apparent to your consumers. Even if not reflected directly through your product, tell your company’s story in a bio, include photos of the team, and let them know they are connecting to real relatable people.
Social Responsibility and Philanthropy
Next, let’s look at Chik-Fil-A, who have their own USP’s which draw consumers to them over their competitors. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever felt the soul crushing disappointment of going to a Chik-Fil-A on a Sunday only to find it closed. It is widely known that the business as a whole doesn’t operate on Sundays to give its employees a reprieve and allow those that observe a Sabbath as part of their religion, time to practice it. While not appreciated by some who wish they could have their chicken sandwich fix every day of the week, a lot of their consumers respect, Social Statements like this are a way or them to gain the respect of their consumers, which could increase customer loyalty and strengthen their brand. Other examples include Target’s vocal support for the LGBT community, or TOMS’ devotion to providing footwear to underprivileged children across the world. Think hard about what philanthropic, social justice, or other related causes your business could get behind.
Get out there and find out what makes you different. If there isn’t anything inherently different, make a change, and put a gap between yourself and your competitors.