By Scott Prichett
This month we address another common question from advertisers, “What is My Unique Selling Proposition?” This installment will assist you in identifying differentiating factors for your business enterprise to focus on in developing marketing materials, which will allow your brand to stand out from among the clutter.
Before you ask that question, please, don’t feel bad if you wonder: What is a Unique Selling Proposition? (USP)
A USP is an important fundamental piece of your marketing platform. To state it simply, a USP is the most important differentiator your business offers that sets you apart from competitors. It’s the unique quality about what you do that is also valuable in the eyes of your target audience.
You’ve seen and heard USPs your whole life, without probably even realizing it. Ever stopped to listen to any of these taglines?Budweiser is the “King of Beers.” Little Caesars is where you get “Pizza, Pizza,” while Papa John’s offers “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza.” Interested in farm machinery? “Nothing runs like a Deere.” And if you’re planning a wedding, De Beers wants you to remember that “A Diamond is Forever,” and Kay Jewelers makes certain to remind you “Every Kiss begins with Kay.”
A classic USP was offered by FedEx back in the late 1980s and early ‘90s: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” With a few words, FedEx communicated that they were going to be your best shot in an emergency situation. Interestingly enough, United Parcel Service (UPS) countered with, “We run the tightest ship in the shipping business.”
Think about the differences conveyed by those two USPs. One phrase sounds like an emergency, and with a frantic pace—FedEx—while the other—UPS— is more measured. Yes, both companies basically carry packages from point A to point B, but the USPs used by the companies highlighted the differences between them: FedEx focused on overnight deliveries—in a pinch—while UPS focused on the broader shipping business as a whole.
Interestingly enough, today FedEx says, “Relax, it’s FedEx,” while UPS says that they are “United Problem Solvers.” Sounds like both companies are trying to be consumer-oriented,but some might say these two big competitors are now sounding perhaps more alike than they should. Is there a real point of difference between these phrases now?
Once an USP has been branded, it’s not often that it changes. But it does happen. Walmart used to say, “Always Low Prices.” Today it says, “Save Money, Live Better.”
You can believe a tremendous amount of thought and research went into both of these phrases. The earlier Walmart USP seems to imply that anything that stood in the way of a low price would be dealt with by the giant retailer. But in today’s socially conscious environment, Walmart needed more. “Save Money, Live Better” is a phrase that carries with it a sense of social responsibility. Walmart seems to be saying, “Yes, saving money (price) is important, but everyone should live better—the price doesn’t dictate every business decision.”
That’s a lot of difference in two short phrases. That’s what a strong USP can do.
So how do you develop a powerful USP for your own tribal business enterprise? Here are some important thoughts:
• Think about your target audience
• Who is going to be interested in what your brand represents?
• What kind of offering will they be looking for in your business category?
• Where might they already be looking for goods or services like yours?
• Get into your target’s perspective
• What is the single biggest benefit that your business can solve?
• What is the one thing your target consumer can get from you that they can’t get from a competitor?
• What is the most important thing that you do better than anyone else?
• Can you turn your critical difference into a promise you can keep?
• Customers want to know what you can do for them.
Once you make a pledge, however, know that deviating from it will cause big problems for the future of your business enterprise.
Make it simple
The best USP is short and sweet.
Seven words is often cited as the maximum number that can be effective.
• Is it powerful?
• Can you live with it long term?
• Does it summarize what you do really well?
Economic development in Indian Country is rapidly expanding—that means more tribally owned business enterprises and more businesses owned by individual tribal members are being created. There are challenges for any start-up, but thinking about how your business will serve and the important difference you offer to the consumer, gives you a big advantage.
Think about the reason you started the business, and how to let people know how they’ll benefit from doing business with you. The perfect USP will reflect all of that and more, becoming part of your DNA—and a valuable component of your brand identity—for years to come.
We always recommend engaging a creative advertising agency with a focus on brand development and strategic messaging, such as Redline Media Group, to assist in the process of developing a USP that fits with the vision, mission, service and product offerings, while being a strong brand extension of your business enterprise.
Now that you have completed this installment, it’s time to start identifying elements so that a USP can be developed for your tribal business enterprise. ♦
The Marketing Circle is a monthly resource to provide a greater understanding and insight into the complex world of marketing and advertising. Advertising professionals from Redline Media Group, an award-winning, full service Native American woman-owned creative marketing and advertising agency, weigh in to share best practices, guidance and expertise relative to a variety of topics in the world of branding, marketing and advertising.