unique-selling-propositionWhen I interview a client for a small business copywriting project, one of my favorite questions I like to ask is: “Why should I use your product over XYZ competitor?” This is an important question because it gets right to the heart of their business concept. I have yet to find a client that does not know how to answer this. And it makes sense, because the business owner wouldn’t create a company if he or she didn’t believe their product had an edge over the competition. The trick is knowing what that edge is and how to present it.

This is the essence of the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – a favorite buzzword in the advertising industry. The phrase was coined in the 1940s by Rosser Reeves (Reality in Advertising) and Theodore Levitt (Harvard Business School). Basically, USP is the reason that the customer will seek out your brand to purchase even though they are surrounded by a sea of other choices. It is that je ne sais quoi that makes the customer feel that they HAVE to have your special brand – and no other. As Reeves and Levitt put it: “Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.”

So how do you go about figuring out what your USP is? Chances are, you pretty much already know. More than likely, you’ve identified a problem in a particular sector of the marketplace or with a certain product; or perhaps noticed a need that hasn’t been filled, etc. Your product is likely a potential solution to the problem. This is one-half of your USP. The other is to know your competition and position your product in relation to them so that your product stands out. This means taking a few hours to locate and study your competitors.

Once you have your USP, this can be a valuable concept to emphasize in a business plan, on your website, press release, advertising, and even in your elevator pitch to prospective investors.

Let DA Copywriter & Business Strategist help you with your USP-driven writing projects.  Check out my portfolio.

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