Finding Your Unique Selling Proposition

A good friend and longtime business and social associate recently advised me over coffee about what he sees as a good fit for my company’s business model. He suggested I approach manufactures about representing their best interests in a unique and non-traditional manner. I won’t explain the concept because the purpose of this blog is to illustrate a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and I didn’t have a USP during our meeting. How can I possibly sell someone on an idea when I don’t understand it myself? It sounds silly, but stick with me and I’ll try to explain.


Mike Masterson does a wonderful job explaining the purpose of a USP in his book, “Ready Fire Aim.” “Entrepreneurs and businessman must first develop an Optimum Selling Strategy (OSS) which can defined in four questions.”


Where are you going to find your customers?


What product will you sell to them first?


How much will you charge for it?


How will you convince them to buy said product?


The simple answer to the above is to “do what everyone else does”. Simple enough right? This is where most Entrepreneurs fall short. They do what everyone else does while also keeping it simple. This is how business start-ups fail. Why do they fail? They don’t have a Unique Selling Proposition or USP. Absolutely correct to simply start where everyone else starts but separate your product or service with a USP. In my case, I approached associates in my industry with an OSS, just like everyone else, however, I always fell short in establishing a USP. Masterson goes on to define four key concepts in his chapter from Ready Fire Aim named “The copy side of selling.” I love how he walked me through fours key concepts every marketing genius must know.


1. The difference between wants and needs


2. The difference between features and benefits


3. How to establish a USP for your product


4. How to sell the USP


1. The difference between wants and needs


Don’t make the mistake of confusing a want for a need. Our needs are simple. A need is something you can’t live without. Needs are really simple and on a short list. Recognizing items such as food and clothing as a need is important. Marketers sell food and clothing based on want. “I want designer clothes.” “I want my kids wearing the best sneakers.” Says the consumer. My all-time favorite is pet food. Our pets need food and shelter. Pet foods are marketed based on human taste! Watch the name brand pet food commercials and tell me they aren’t trying to stimulate human emotion in good tasting human food! Grill dog Sherman will eat anything and everything, not really caring about the Gravy Train Bruschetta Ham and Chipped Beef Gravy Delight.


2. The difference between features and benefits


Next, we need to distinguish between features and benefits. Masterson illustrates a simple college classroom exercise using a common #2 pencil.


Features Is made of wood Benefits Easy to sharpen

Features Has a specific diameter Benefits Comfortable to hold

Features Contains a lead filler Benefits Creates an impressive line

Features Has an eraser at the end Benefits Makes correcting easy


How about a garden hose?

Features Connects to a faucet Benefits Easy to install

Features Disperses water Benefits Makes hydration simple

Features Flexible material Benefits Coils and stores in seconds

Features Various lengths available Benefits Reaches gardens and vehicles easily


3. How to establish a USP for your product


Now it’s time to establish a Unique Selling Proposition. Take the customer wants, then based on your product benefits, find one that stands out from the rest. When this can be presented as uniquely characteristic of your product, you have an advertising proposition that can carry your product, your company, and yourself for a long, long time. Masterson writes “USP is a widely accepted and is widely proclaimed by business experts, schools, and publications. Yet 90 percent of all new products that come to market will come without any distinguishing characteristics.”


4. How to sell the USP


Now it’s time to sell the USP. This can be broken down into four parts. Mike Masterson loves to break things into fours and that really helps to grasp simple concepts.


1. The big idea


2. The big promise


3. Specific Claims


4. Proof of those claims


My big idea is that I am going to approach every customer I contact on an altruistic service plane. I am going to place their wants and needs first and completely remove any selfish self-seeking nature from the equation. My promise is to provide my very best at a fair price for every client I transact with. My specific claim is that everything I do for business owners, entrepreneurs, and mangers are things they can absolutely do themselves. You are highly intelligent people. I further claim that time is their most valuable commodity and my service not only involves tasks, but it involves all the necessary time and research to support and test the tasks that will support a practical program of action to remove or solve the problem. Proof of these claims? Don’t ask me, ask my family, friends, and business associates. My 31-year career in sales and executive management is littered with historical and anecdotal proof along with testimonials about salesmanship, executive leadership, and character.

After running through this exercise, I’m now better prepared to re-approach a few industry contacts and restate my Unique Selling Proposition. I hope you can do the same for your business, charity, or service to others!


Source: Ready,Fire,Aim | Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat | Michael Masterson | John Wiley & Sons, Inc. | 2008


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2018

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