Developing the Unique Selling Proposition


The "Unique Selling Proposition" advertising campaign was developed by Reeves in 1961. Reeves proposed that marketers offer products different from their competitor' offerings by developing products that have a special formula, design, or feature. The product or service being marketed must be unique and important to the prospect. Finally, the USP can be an overt statement or implied through different marketing mechanisms.

This is all wonderful theory but how does one create and apply the USP? Jay Conrad Levinson tells us in his book, "Guerilla Marketing" that the USP must showcase the inherent "drama" of a product or service.

Thus, to develop the USP you need to begin to ask questions. Go beyond, "What makes my product or service unique compared to other products or services?"

First ask yourself what your product or service has in common with other similar products or services. Let's consider a mobile cleaning service. Most mobile cleaning services are: 1) mobile; 2) offer off hour services; 3) provide for flexible cleaning schedules.

Now, what do you do different? Do you use a different cleaning system that guarantees a given result? Do you or your employees hold certifications in advanced cleaning processes? Do you offer any complimentary services not offered by other cleaning businesses? Perhaps, you provide "X" amount of free cleaning per "Y" hours of ordered service? Maybe you deliver baked goods to each establishment you clean?

Not only should you consider what differentiates you from your competition, you need to consider what makes your product exciting. For instance do you use a special cleaner that will clean people's shoes when they walk on a newly cleaned carpet? That would be really exciting.

Finally, consider the utilitarian or functional aspects of your cleaning service. What can consumers of your service expect? Can they expect amazing customer service? Can they expect easy access to the service? Can they expect consistency in the service?

Finally, will your service provide them in some way with an increase in their profits? What aspects of your service will help your customers increase profits? What aspects will help them increase their self image?

Research indicates that developing and marketing a unique selling proposition will be most effective under the following circumstances:

If a product or service:

1. is highly differentiated from its competition.

2. is in the developmental stages of the product life cycle.

3. is not publicly consumed (things like automobiles, clothing, perfume, eating establishments.

4. requires high involvement from the consumer.

5. is well known and understood by the consumer.

Once you've determined that your product or service fits into a majority of the above circumstances then you need to develop your unique selling proposition by asking the many questions posed in the above paragraphs. The last exercise you should undertake is to pick the two or three most dramatic answers and develop them into your marketing campaign.

The Unique Selling Proposition theory of marketing can be very powerful if it is applied under the right circumstances with the correct target market. Take the time to determine if developing the USP is the primary form of marketing for you, then target it based on the development of a solid ideal customer profile and you'll see positive results.



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