unique-selling-propositionBe prepared for an epic post…

I wrote the following a LONG time ago.  Probably somewhere around 2007.  I was fairly new to marketing, but I definitely understood a lot of concepts already that I still use and apply today.

I thought of it today, and thought I’d share…

By the time you finish reading this page, you’ll understand how to create the most powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal.

I’ve included examples, a definition of this under-leveraged weapon, and how-to instructions for you to do it yourself. So print this page, grab a cup of coffee, and find a good spot on the couch to read it — your business breakthrough to bigger profits without spending more on advertising may be on this page…

How a few words can change an entire industry

Ten words catapulted a corner pizza store into the world leader in pizza delivery. They transformed the owner from a struggling college student into a billionaire. Those same ten words changed the face of the pizza business, and set a new standard in pizza delivery that every pizza business today must live up to.

Those 10 words?

“Fresh, Hot Pizza Delivered in 30 Minutes or Less, Guaranteed.”

Nine words shook the parcel and document delivery industry. The business who used these nine words had been called a failing idea by the founder’s business professor. But these nine words catapulted this failure of a business idea into a world leader in delivering important business documents and packages.

Those 9 words?

“When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

Thirteen words put one medicine’s name in your head every time you have cold or flu symptoms that are keeping you awake. This medicine absolutely dominates all others when it comes to nighttime relief of your coughing, aches, sniffling, stuffy head, and fever. Now imitators flood corner store shelves but this medicine still leads the market.

Those 13 words?

“The nighttime, coughing, achy, sniffling, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine.”

Each of these clear, concise sentences have carried a product, service, or entire company to the top in their industry. Powerful words indeed. Just ask Dominos Pizza, FedEx, and NyQuil maker Vicks. These companies are just three examples of the many more that have made billions of dollars leveraging a few well-spoken words.

That’s why a simple sentence such as these that describes what differentiates your business is…

Your most valuable marketing asset.

These sentences are what you call a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. They tell the customer why they should choose your offering over every other option available to them in the marketplace, including doing nothing at all, or doing what they are currently doing. The USP is your most valuable marketing asset.

The USP should be the core message you share every time you contact your customer, and every time your customer contacts you. Here are three reasons why the USP is so valuable:

— Your USP separates your business from the competition and makes it easier for customers to choose you.

— Your USP goes inside your prospect’s mind and positions your company as the top choice in your line of business.

— Using your USP regularly reminds you what your customers are buying, and what you should focus your energy on doing better than your competitors.

If you want your product, service, or company to be in the front of your customers’ minds, you only have one option. Make your USP the big idea of every marketing message you put out — as well as the big idea behind how you run your business.

So how do you create a powerful USP?

By the time you finish reading this page, you’ll know how to create a powerful USP — I’ll even give you the questions you need to ask yourself as the business owner, the questions you need to ask your sales team, the questions you need to ask your customers, and the research you need to do on your competitors.

But first, let’s get a little guidance from Rosser Reeves, who first defined the concept of the Unique Selling Proposition in his 1961 book Reality in Advertising. There are three basic “to-dos” that define a USP — and one big “don’t.”

Do these in your USP:

  1. Make a benefit-based proposition to your customer — i.e. “buy this product, get this benefit.”
  2. Identify a uniqueness — something your competitors do not, will not, and preferably can not offer.
  3. Make it strong enough to move the mass millions — pack a punch!

And what do you avoid? What Rosser Reeves called “The Deceptive Differential.” Be careful in your USP that you don’t position yourself as having a difference that your competitors can easily copy, emulate, or convince the market doesn’t matter.

That’s a start… But I’m sure you’d like some specific how-tos on coming up with a compelling, powerful, profit-boosting USP. So here’s the first recommendation…

The secret: differentiate your business from your competitors!

The goal of your USP — and what will make it most profitable for your business — is to differentiate your business from your competitors. This is positioning, and it is something that takes place outside of your business, inside your customer’s mind.

Creating a USP that differentiates your business and increases sales and profits does not take marketing brilliance. It does not take expert understanding of writing advertisements. It also does not take millions of dollars worth of market research.

With a little bit of elbow grease, a pen, paper, and a phone — plus the step-by-step instructions I’ll give you below — writing a powerful, profitable USP is something you can do.

All it takes is finding the big idea that differentiates your business from your competitors. And then wording that in a way that is clear and easy to understand.

But first we need to look at what real differentiation is — plus common ways businesses try and fail to convince prospects that they’re any different…

Two deadly phrases your prospects use when you fail to differentiate…

The two most important phrases in your prospect’s mind are “So What?” and “Bullshit!”

“So What?” means your attempt at differentiation doesn’t matter to your prospect. You’re highlighting a feature or benefit that is either not a true point of differentiation, or it fails to speak to their three “F’s” — fears, frustrations, and failures — or their three “D’s” — dreams, desires, and destiny. If you give your prospects a “So What?” attempt at differentiation, at best you’ll get a lukewarm response. You haven’t given them a good reason to pick you over your competitors.

“Bullshit!” means you have failed to convince your prospect that what you’re saying is true. Saying your product is of “better quality” or that you provide “better service,” or generically calling yourself the “leader of xyz category” are good examples of “Bullshit!” You need to be specific about your advantage if you want to be believable. List specific reasons why your quality or service is better, or why you are the leader. And if possible you need to provide a risk reversal or guarantee to prove to prospects that you stand behind your claims. Being too over the top or too generic will give your prospects the “Bullshit!” response and make them more likely to choose your competitors than to choose you.

“So What?” and “Bullshit!” should be in the front of your mind the entire time you are thinking about how to differentiate your business and as you write your USP. If your USP does not stand up to “So What?” and “Bullshit!” then you’ve already failed.

14 rules for creating real differentiation

In their book Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition, Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin explained chapter by chapter how you can differentiate your business, and how not to. As you work to differentiate your business through your USP and other efforts, this book is a must-read. For the sake of helping you create a USP quickly and easily, I’ll name the most relevant chapter titles below, and give a quick explanation of the concepts you need to know to apply them in creating your USP.

Here are nine ways to differentiate your business.

  1. “Being First Is a Differentiating Idea”

Get into your prospect’s mind first with a new product or benefit and your competition will have trouble catching up. People like to think they’ve made the right decision — and so they stick with what they’ve got. If your product or service is what they’ve got, you have a huge competitive advantage. Customers will continue to buy from you. You can do this by being first to market with a new solution — even if that means you’re not able to implement all the features and functionalities you dreamed up in the first edition. You can also be the first in your area to promote a unique benefit of your product or service — and win locally when you can’t win everywhere else.

  1. “Attribute Ownership Is a Way to Differentiate”

First let’s clarify what an attribute is. Trout and Rivkin state, “An attribute is a characteristic, peculiarity, or distinctive feature of a person or thing. Next, persons or things are a mixture of attributes.” If your product is nails, it has size, strength, sharpness, color, and other attributes. If you were known for producing the strongest nails, nails that never bend when you’re hammering them in, you could own the market for nails — assuming you found that a large portion of the market was looking for strong nails. The key is to find an attribute that customers think is important. The attribute you choose needs to be very simple (strongest nails) and benefit-oriented (won’t bend) for it to resonate well and have significant impact.

  1. “Leadership Is a Way to Differentiate”

Leadership is tough because you can’t just declare yourself the leader. But if you find a way in which you are truly a leader this is a powerful way to differentiate your business. Leadership works on a concept called “social proof” — people copy what other people are already doing because they think, “If it works for them, it’ll probably work for me too.” Three common types of leadership are sales leadership (best selling), technology leadership (track-record of the newest technologies), and performance leadership (works better for customers). If you find that you lead in one of these three areas — especially if endorsed by a third party — you can often increase sales by differentiating in this way.

  1. “Heritage Is a Differentiating Idea”

We all crave tradition — this is why heritage is an effective way to differentiate your business. Also, if a business has been around for many years, we make an automatic assumption that they know how to do their business well. If you have a family history in the business… If your business has been around longer than most — if not all — of your competitors… If your business has an interesting history or founder’s story… If your business comes from an area known for producing your product… If your business has a history in your community… Each of these are leverage points for using heritage to differentiate your business. Tell this story and you will build customer trust and your business.

  1. “Market Specialty Is a Differentiating Idea”

This is the secret behind niche marketing and the success of businesses that choose to market to one specific niche. The assumption we make when we find a business marketing to a particular niche is that they are the expert on that niche. By choosing a niche and sticking to it, customers recognize us as the go-to authority in that niche. When others mention that niche, the customer thinks of us. If you choose to differentiate yourself this way, be careful of the natural inclination to branch out. This can destroy customers’ trust in your specialty — then they won’t choose you for either your niche or your new venture.

  1. “Preference Is a Differentiating Idea”

This idea falls close to leadership — but instead of statistics such as sales, preference is defined by what a sample of your market thinks is correct or better. This goes back to social proof. If you do a taste test and your cola comes out on top, you can say that customers prefer your cola. An even stronger form of preference is getting endorsements from celebrities and members of the media — people want to use the same products used by the people they look up to. One warning — if you use preference to differentiate your business, be sure that it is legitimate and that it stands up to scrutiny. There is nothing worse for your brand than to declare consumer preference and be made a fool when someone proves you wrong through more exhaustive research.

  1. “How a Product Is Made Can Be a Differentiating Idea”

If your product has a “magic ingredient” or special process you use to make it, you can feature this and successfully differentiate your business. If possible, give this unique ingredient or process a catchy trademarked or service marked name. Competitors won’t legally be able to copy this, and it can make your business stand out as having something the other guys don’t. Also, if you put extra care into making your product, if you don’t take shortcuts, or if you make things the “old-fashioned way,” you can use this as a differentiating factor.

  1. “Being the Latest Can Be a Differentiating Idea”

As humans, we have an endless fascination with the latest big thing — rightfully or not we also consider the latest to be the greatest. Constantly innovating your product so you add new features and functionalities is one way of always having the latest product. If you’re doing it, it’ll be hard for your competition to keep up. And you can wear the “latest and greatest” banner with pride. Be sure in your quest to always have the latest that every feature and functionality you add is actually needed by your customers — people are smart, and if you’re just selling a flashier version of what you had before, customers will see right through it and you’ll lose reputation.

  1. “Hotness Is a Way to Differentiate”

Hotness is the third and final differentiating idea that links to the concept of social proof. If everybody else is doing something right now, we want to be involved too. We don’t want to miss out. Because hotness is such a transient concept though, it’s hard to come up with a long-term differentiation strategy based on it alone. But you can leverage the media through PR and create hotness that can set your brand apart and gain customers quickly. This strategy can be used as a way to get your differentiating ideas to a wider audience, after which you will benefit from the lingering effect on customer awareness and your increased list of prospects and customers.

Here are five things to avoid when trying to differentiate your business.

  1. “Quality and Customer Orientation Are Rarely Differentiating Ideas”

All other businesses in your category have to be failing at these to make either Quality or Customer Orientation a basis of differentiation. Otherwise, most customers are generally happy with the quality of the products and services available. And most categories have at least a couple competitors that are focused on customer needs and do that well. Unless every competing business in your category is failing at either of these attributes, avoid these factors when you’re differentiating your business.

  1. “Creativity is Not a Differentiating Idea”

This idea refers to being creative in your advertisements — being creative is a good way to draw attention, but won’t sell products. A creative approach to getting the attention of your prospects must be coupled with an explanation of what truly differentiates your business from competitors. Otherwise everyone will remember your advertisement without remembering what you’re selling. Remember, small businesses — and most large ones too — can’t really afford to make pure entertainment for advertising. Advertisements have to sell to be successful.

  1. “Price Is Rarely a Differentiating Idea”

When you live by the price sword, you’ll die by the price sword. Cutting your prices to below what your competitors charge destroys your margins, and is hard to maintain. For this reason, price is called the enemy of differentiation. Wal-Mart pulls it off with “Every Day Low Prices” but that is because they buy in massive quantities and control the supply chain where possible. Most businesses die quickly if they’re always trying to undercut the rest of the market on price, without having a significant buying advantage. Instead find a reason why your customers choose to do business with you above all others. This will make them willing to pay more if that’s what is necessary. One exception is to differentiate on high price — a high price creates exclusivity and tells customers looking for luxury that “the price is high because the product is worth a lot.” This works best when the product is something you manufacture or a special service you provide where competitors can’t come in with the same product and steal customers on a slightly lower price.

  1. “Breadth of Line Is a Difficult Way to Differentiate”

The amount of products in your store or catalog can be a blessing or a curse. Many department stores and retailers who sought to give the customers the widest selection have failed. But others have chosen a niche, then provided a large selection within that niche, and gone on to be successful. Think Toys’R’Us for toys, specialty clothing retailers (western, business wear, etc.), or sports superstores. These are successful businesses because they focus on one area and become the “expert” source in that area. These large specialist stores find success, but over the last 100 years few generalist department stores have been able to stay out of financial trouble.

  1. “Growth Can Destroy Differentiation”

If you’ve either purposefully or accidentally differentiated yourself as a specialist, growth can be your worst enemy. As you work to add more products or services to meet more customers’ needs, your focus becomes blurred — both in your business priorities and in the mind of your customers. When this happens, any differentiation you’ve created as a specialist goes away and you’ll fight to keep customers. You’re better off continuing to focus on your specialty, finding unique ways to repackage your products or services or finding new customers within your current niche. The one alternative to this is multi-branding — if you can’t help yourself from creating new products or going after new markets, create a new company and a new brand for your new offering, then throw new resources at it so you don’t dilute your core business.

Pay attention to these rules, and you’ll be in good shape for coming up with a true differentiating factor in your business, and a compelling USP you can use to grow your business.

Beyond these rules there is one more thing you need to know before we get into the step-by-step process for creating your USP.

In fact you could say, “I saved the best for last.”

How the three “F’s” and the three “D’s” make for killer USP’s

Above I briefly mentioned the three F’s — fears, frustrations, and failures — and the three D’s — dreams, desires, and destiny.

If the USP is the most powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal, then…

These six concepts are the most powerful marketing ammo imaginable.

Integrate your prospects’ three F’s and three D’s into your USP, and you may discover that you’ve come up with a legal way to print money. Let me explain…

All the ways listed above for differentiating your business are important. They help customers choose to do business with you, instead of doing business with your competitors. But if you approach those methods thinking about how they’ll benefit you and your business, you’ll wonder why they don’t work — even when I told you they would. Here’s what’s going on…

I’m selfish. You’re selfish. Your customer is selfish. Even if we don’t want to admit it, we are. All of us. Most of the time we only really care about ourselves — and at best our loved ones, friends, etc. Even if we do good for someone else, our deepest satisfaction comes from how that makes us happy.

Selfishness is a function of human nature — of having our own consciousness, our own needs, and our own desires — so don’t get too upset at your customers or yourself for being this way.

Why is this important to your business? Well, whether we like it or not, most of our customers don’t actually care that deeply about us — they may like us a lot but when it comes to their needs versus our own, guess who wins? Yep — you got it. Your customer only cares about your business, your product, and your service in so much as it is benefiting them.

And the only way to make it incredibly clear to them that your product or service is providing an irreplaceable benefit to them is to explain:

  1. How it eliminates their current fears, frustrations, or failures, or
  2. How it brings them closer to their dreams, desires, or destiny.

For this step you need to step out of your own mind. Do this through talking to your customers. Or ask your best sales people. What drives your customers to buy? What is keeping them awake at night, that drives them toward your solution?

What are their fears, frustrations, and failures?

Are your customers afraid of retiring without any money? Are they worked up by hitting a perceived top in their career ladder? Or their sales? Are they struggling in their personal relationships?

Does your product or service solve these? Then find a way to speak to that in your USP — as clearly and succinctly as possible.

What are their dreams, desires, and destiny?

Do your customers dream of a new car or a vacation house? Do they desire more time to spend with their family and to pursue hobbies? Do they think they’re well on their way to fulfilling their wildest dreams, if only they have…?

And does your product or service bring them closer to these? Then integrate that in your USP — again, as clearly and succinctly as possible.

One key here is to make sure you’re conducting business in an ethical way. You need to make sure you deliver the goods. If your product or service truly helps your customers break free of their fears, frustrations, or failures… or brings them significantly closer to their dreams, desires, or destiny… then you’re on the right track. If you’re confident that you can deliver 200% to 20,000% of the value you promise, then you’re can honestly and fairly use these tactics.

This is powerful stuff — I do not, can not, and will not condone using these strategies in an unethical way. But if you are able to truly provide these benefits to your customers, you should see it as your ethical responsibility to compel them through whatever means necessary to try your product for their own good.

Now you’re ready to create a profit generating USP

Now that you understand the core concepts, we’ll look at the questions you need to ask yourself, your employees, and your best customers — plus the research you need to do on your competitors — so you can create a USP that tells customers why they should do business with you instead of all other options available to them…

First, how do you — the business owner — understand your business?

Remember when your business just started? Maybe you operated out of your garage or an extra bedroom, like so many other great companies did in their beginnings. You probably had more passion, excitement, and pent up potential for your business then than at any other time in your company’s history.

When you were starting your business, you had a deep understanding of why you’d be better at helping your customers than any other business could. You knew what was special about you that would make your business a success. Since then these advantages may have moved to the back burner in your awareness, but they’re still as important as ever in giving your customers a great experience.

In these questions we want to bring your unique advantage as the business owner to the forefront, and determine if they will be the basis for a killer USP. Take notes!

  1. How are you more qualified than your competitors to deliver your product or service? Do you have the experience, expertise, or credentials to prove it?
  2. Has your time in business allowed you to become best at production, delivery, product quality, pricing, or given you the widest product line? What did you do to develop that advantage?
  3. Do you have a guarantee that puts the risk of doing business on you instead of your customer? Is it promoted at the forefront of all marketing and sales?
  4. Do you provide any special service — such as free consultations, more customer education, customer bonuses or incentives, better customer relationships, or any other part of the customer experience — that is significantly better than the competitors’?

Second, how do your employees understand your business?

Sometimes your employees know more about what your customers are really buying than you do — especially your most successful sales people, observant customer service people, and employees who deal with customers on a daily basis. If your business is a sole proprietorship or you are an independent consultant, you will need to ask yourself these questions. But if you have a staff of any size — from 2 to 2,000 to 200,000 — you should conduct a staff meeting or survey, or find another way to get the majority of your staff to weigh in with answers to these questions.

Many staff members will have many ideas about what the right answers to these questions are. I’m not going to lie and say they’re all good ideas — but there’s a catch here. During the meeting, while your staff has momentum and is answering the questions, you need to treat every answer like a good answer. Get everyone’s opinion on the table. Make sure everyone who wants to speak is heard. Then — and only then, when you have all the answers at your disposal and the meetings are over — you can move forward and decide which answers are relevant answers to developing your USP, and which you can ignore for now. Oh, by the way, some of your answers weren’t so great either, so don’t get all full of yourself. 🙂 As for deciding which answers will be helpful as you create your USP, I’ll have more advice below.

So the goal of this section is to identify any unique understandings your staff have of how your business serves your customers. There is some overlap with the previous set of questions — that is intentional and you may be surprised by the different answers you’ll get. So take notes.

  1. Is there anything our business does that benefits the customer in the area of production, delivery, product quality, pricing, or extent of product line? How was that developed?
  2. Are there any unique abilities among our staff that provide the customer with a unique benefit?
  3. What has been our major marketing message to date? Is there a specific, compelling reason the customer should choose us? Is this front and center in every marketing and sales presentation?
  4. Does our business have a unique advantage in any of these areas:

– Price? Are we lower than higher than our competitors? Why?

– Quality? Is our quality higher than our competitors? Why?

– Selection? Do we have the best selection? Be specific: is our selection better in brands, types, colors, styles, quantity, etc.?

  1. Do we have a guarantee that puts the risk of doing business on us instead of on the competitor? Do we feature that in our sales and marketing?
  2. Does our company make it easier for the customer to do business than the competition? How? What about within these areas:

– More customer education and teaching?

– Free consultations?

– Bonuses?

– Incentives?

– Better terms?

– Longer hours?

– More convenient locations?

– Better customer service and follow-up?

– Preferred treatment for preferred customers such as frequent buyer’s clubs, etc.?

– Better guarantee or return policy?

  1. Is our customer service better than the competition’s? How? What about within these areas:

– More value-added service?

– Volume discount pricing?

– Unique system for resolving customer complaints?

– More education and more long-term relationships with customers?

  1. Do we do anything special to continue delivering value to our customers independent of their recent purchases?

Third, how do your customers understand your business?

Your customers have a unique perspective on your business that you will never get from being an insider. They also have experience being a prospect of your business — they know what it is like to choose to do business with you instead of your competitors. If you truly care about their well being and in that spirit you contact them and ask for and listen to their opinion, they will love to give it. In addition to the beneficial knowledge you’ll receive, they’ll feel validated as a customer and will likely come back to do more business with you.

The key to conducting these interviews with your customers is to truly care about what they have to say. And not be calling to sell them something. You need to just be getting their opinion — because ultimately that will be hundreds of times more valuable than any sale you could make with them with this one contact. Take notes — their answers are valuable.

To do this you’ll want to call or otherwise contact 15 to 30 of your current customers. Also call 10 to 15 of your past customers who are no longer doing business with you. Here’s what to say to them:

“Hi, this is ______ from _______ company. This isn’t a sales call. I was actually hoping you could help me out today. I’m calling to get your opinion about my business. I have six quick questions that should take less than five minutes to answer. Would you be willing to give me your honest opinion?”

  1. Are you satisfied with the service you have received from us?
  2. Is there anything you would like to see us adjust or change to serve you better?
  3. What was it that caused you to choose us?
  4. Have you patronized any other businesses in this industry? If yes, why?
  5. Do you have any crucial or obvious needs that are overlooked and not being taken care of by anyone in this business?
  6. What would you say is unique or that separates us from other such businesses?

“That’s it. Thank you again for your opinion today. And thank you for your business.”

Fourth, how does what your competitors are doing compare to your business?

Here is where you get to start deciding which ideas are good and which are bad. And you’re not going to do it based on which ones you like! What you’re looking for is consistency…

By this time you should notice some themes running through the notes you’ve been taking. You should notice that your customers are saying the same things as your staff, who are saying the same thing as you about what makes your business unique. That’s good. But is that really your competitive advantage — is that really unique to you in your industry?

This last section looks at your competitors — specifically if what you’ve found out about your business makes you unique compared to them. It’s natural to find that a lot of what you do well, they also do well. Most industries have about 90% overlap between businesses. The products and services are roughly alike, and so is the marketing. You’re looking for what’s important in that 10% of difference. That’s what you’ll use to drive a wedge between your business and theirs, and leverage yours to the top.

What you need to do is shop your competitors’ businesses, follow their advertising, read their websites, read all their brochures or company promotion pieces, and talk to their customers. Some of this will need to be undercover. And you don’t have to be scientific — you just need to know if the ideas you’re getting about your USP are truly unique and a compelling reason to do business with you instead of them.

And if you’re not trying to narrow it down — if you already are 99% certain of what your compelling USP is — you can just focus on this aspect of your competitors’ business to make sure this is a true difference in your industry.

If you’re not sure yet which thing it is about your business that makes it truly unique, focus on these factors to compare to your notes:

– Price

– Quality

– Service

– Selection

– Expertise

– Terms

– Guarantee

– … Plus any other relevant factor to your industry.

Take notes on every major competitor, so you can sit down afterwards to sort it all out.

Now let’s write our Unique Selling Proposition!

Wow. You’re getting close. Can you feel the excitement? I can. By this time you should really have a good idea about what makes your business unique and why customers should do business with you instead of any other option available to them in the marketplace.

In this part, you get to finish filtering out the ideas that won’t work to differentiate your business. It’s like panning for gold — you wash away pan after pan of dirt to get a few gold flakes — but they’re worth it!

Look in your notes for the top three factors that are reasons why customers should do business with you instead of with your competitors. This should be the top three recurring themes in your notes — or something you and your staff may have thought of a little, but that a large percentage of your customers said was very important.

You don’t want more than three because it dilutes the power of each one. Even three can tell a customer that you don’t really know why they should buy — you’re saying, “here’s a few reasons and we’ll see if one sticks.”

One is best if you can narrow it down. Here’s how…

Look at your notes on your competition — are they already selling based on the factors you’ve chosen? For any of the three, strike those off the list. If it’s all three, you’re going to have to dig deeper. But it’s likely that there’s at least one out of your top three that is not being emphasized by your competition.

If it’s one, perfect. Two, that’s good too. Three — make sure you’ve looked at your competition hard enough — then pick the top two, maximum.

Take these top factors, and try to express them in as few of words as possible. Try one sentence each to begin with. Tell the advantage — then tell why that’s important, from the customer’s perspective. Be specific.

As you do this, remember the three F’s and the three D’s — fears, frustrations, and failures plus dreams, desires, and destiny. Use these to tell customers why the benefits of your product are important to them. Quantify the benefits if possible — explain what it means to them in numbers they can understand.

Include your guarantee.

This description should be 90 words or less.

Read through it a few times. Make sure it stands up to the “So What?” and “Bullshit!” tests. Does it tell your customers exactly what they can expect from you and why that’s better? If it does, you’re doing good.

One more thing… simplify!

Now that you have a description that’s 90 words or less, including either one or two major promises of what you’ll do for the customer and why that’s different than your competition, it’s time to simplify it. Make it shorter. More direct. Give it punch.

Think of a prospect who doesn’t know who you are — but you know who they are. In fact, you know that they are your perfect prospect.

You just got on a busy elevator with them, and have as little as 10 seconds of their attention — if you can even hold it for that long. You need to tell them what you do and why they should be interested in knowing more — in 10 seconds or less. That’s much less time than it takes to say 90 words, no matter how fast you say them. Plus, you have to be compelling.

So it’s time to condense the core message of those 90 words or less into about 30 syllables — 10-15 words. Cut down to the core of what you do and why it benefits them — if you have to cut down to one promise only, that’s okay. Use action words. Show the movement from action — getting your product — to result — experiencing the benefits.

Here’s an example from my marketing consulting business. If I had up to 90 words to describe my services, I’d say that, “I’ll help you increase profits 25 to 100% in as little as 60 days without spending more money on advertising — guaranteed. I use a unique system that leverages marketing assets you already have hidden in your business to increase sales without you having to make a lot of changes to the way you operate your business.”

Sure, that’s much less than 90 words. But it’s even too long to use as the first introduction in conversation. Even the first sentence.

So here’s how I shorten it: “I help businesses increase profits without spending more on advertising.”

Simple, straightforward, and benefits-driven. They get more profits without spending more. And if they want to know more, I have my longer description ready, and can describe my business even further if they want.

But by then the USP has done its job. It’s firmly positioned your company in their mind, telling them why they should do business with you.

And now… integrate!

You now have your USP in two forms. One, super-short for a quick introduction. And the other, slightly longer for more captive audiences, or for when the shorter version has hooked your prospect’s attention.

But it’s absolutely worthless. That is, it’s worthless unless you use it in all your sales, marketing, and customer service efforts.

Every time you contact a customer, they should be reminded of your USP. Every time they contact you, they should be reminded of your USP. Every staff member should know it by heart. And it should be integrated in all your sales scripts, marketing materials, and more.

So first sit down with a paper and a pen, and write down every point of customer contact in your company. Write down a list of all the scenarios when a sales person contacts a customer. When a customer contacts customer service or support. And when a customer is presented with your marketing message.

This could be a cold call. Warm call. Referral follow up. Referral request. Sending a quote. Following up on a quote. Up selling. Cross selling. Emails. Voice mail. Recorded message when customers call you. Customer complaint. Refund request. Support email. Email signature. Response to any request for information. Invoices. Collection letters. Post cards. Sales letters. Newspaper ads. Telemarketing scripts. Television ads. Radio ads. Trade show fliers. Trade show booth. Product packaging. Internet ads. The sign on the front of your store. Business cards. The store window. Yellow page ads. Coupons. Everything!

Your list will go on…

Find a way to express your USP in each of these areas. Decide for each if you should use the short version or the long version. But do it! And couple it with your web address, phone number, or other contact information so people know where to go to learn more.

This is where true branding and positioning takes place. This will have an impact on your sales and profits — and if you did your research right and didn’t take any shortcuts, the impact you notice will be positive, and it will be big.

So now that you’ve read this tutorial and learned how to do it, it’s time to put it in practice. Start your research today. Create your USP using this approach. Integrate it into everything you do.

You’ll notice that it’s easier than ever to attract prospects and convert them into customers. It’ll be easier to convince past customers to do business with you again. Customers will likely even start spending more per purchase. You’ll watch your sales and profits rise steadily, from this one relatively small effort!

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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