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A Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is a statement that’s designed to make a product, company or person stand out from the competition. Defining your USP is helpful in selling situations for two major reasons. First, if you don’t know what makes your product or company unique and better than its competitors, you’ll have a tough time giving your customers a reason to buy it over those competitors. And second, a USP gives your prospects a clear-cut rationale for doing business with you.
The best USP for your specific situation isn’t always obvious. Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon, famously said that “We sell hope, not makeup.” When deciding on your USP you must think about what your customers stand to gain from your product or service, and base your USP around that. The whole point of a USP is to give a benefit, not describe a feature.
Many companies use a UPS as their slogan. For example, take Milky Way’s slogan, “The sweet you can eat between meals without ruining your appetite.” The slogan clearly lays out how Milky Way bars are unique in their industry: unlike their competitors’ candy bars, they won’t fill you up and spoil your dinner. It’s a benefit phrase that resonates strongly with Milky Way’s potential customers.
Some companies have a tough time finding a good USP because they know their product isn’t necessarily the best in the marketplace. Smart salespeople can turn this challenge into an opportunity by pointing out how a perceived disadvantage is actually an advantage. A classic example is the car rental company Avis, who was originally far behind its powerful competitor Hertz in market share. Avis launched a new ad campaign based around the slogan “We’re number two. We try harder,” and tripled that market share in just four years.
About the author
My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.
As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.