In a world where customers are constantly faced with choices, what makes your business stand out? In order to make consumers choose you over the competition, Startups must find something that makes them unique. Your USP is your Unique Selling Proposition; it’s what your business stands for and differentiates you from others. By finding your USP and incorporating it across your branding and marketing, you’ll be armouring your business with an attractive brand that customers want to be a part of!
This guide will help your Startup not only find its USP but will show you how to utilise this throughout your branding and entice customers to give you a go. From social media to targeting the right audience, this guide will help you define what makes your business special!
1. Do you target a unique audience?
Startup businesses often fall into the trap of trying to appeal to everyone. If you do this, not only do you risk spreading your marketing efforts too thinly, but you might end up alienating certain segments of customers. By choosing to target a specific audience and satisfying their needs & wants, you are more likely to be successful.
Do you already know your target audience? If so, it’s important to try and understand them. Talk to your existing customers or create surveys and focus groups asking them about their needs. What are they looking for in your area of business? Are there certain services or products which are repeatedly brought up or sought after? If you can mould your business around a specific audience’s exact desires, your brand will be irresistible.
The Startup Guys are a web design company who build websites especially for, you guessed it, Startup businesses. A talented group of web designers could of course, in practice, build websites for any sort of business or project. However, by concentrating their marketing efforts and catering their services especially for Startups, they are the obvious choice for this sort of customer.
2. Do you offer something your competitors don’t?
You need to have a competitive advantage over other businesses doing similar things to you. Do you offer cheaper prices or services that they don’t? Do you offer a quicker delivery time or only use locally sourced ingredients?
Global coffee giant Starbucks managed to turn one small shop in Seattle to a worldwide power in caffeinated drinks. How did they manage to stand out from the corner shops or sandwich bars which also sold coffee? They offered a more expensive, Premium Coffee and marketed themselves as a premium coffee brand. They didn’t offer premium coffee AND the cheapest coffee, as this is what their competitors at gas stations and cafés were doing. Instead, they sold premium coffee at premium prices in an ambient, relaxing atmosphere which customers were attracted to. Of course they also offer sandwiches and other foods, however, the focus is always, and always has been, on the premium coffee.
You may be lucky enough to be the only doughnut café in your town, or perhaps the only hairdressers offering nail services in your area, in which case your Unique Selling Point is obvious. If you need to think a little harder, perhaps you’ve noticed that other Joinery services have been receiving complaints about poor customer service and are overpriced? Your USP could simply be “friendly and affordable joinery service”, which immediately makes you stand out from those competitors.
Analyse how your competitors are advertising. What’s their slogan, who are their target market and how do they present themselves through their advertising? Pinpoint any weaknesses that you think competitors are missing and think how you can take advantage of that.
3. Possible ways to differentiate your business
Sometimes it’s not obvious what makes you unique. Finding your USP can often take a lot of creativity and you may have to tweak how your business works. Here’s a list of things to think about to find your key differentiator:
- Expertise: You or your team might have a level of experience or qualifications that can give you a competitive edge.
- Price: Competing on price is a timeless way to make your business stand out.
- Quality: However, if you can’t compete on price then emphasising why your product is of better quality than your competitors will entice customers to give you a try.
- Sourcing: Do you source your materials or ingredients locally or organically? Are you selective about where you buy your materials from? People are increasingly becoming more conscious about the way they shop, so promoting your socially or environmentally friendly business can be a great USP.
- Services: An obvious choice for your USP can be offering something your competitors don’t.
- Production Method: Do you hand-make all of your products? Do you use specialised machinery or even an authentic production method that hasn’t changed in 200 years? All of these can contribute to making you stand out.
- Delivery: Again an obvious choice for an appealing USP is if you can deliver faster or to more remote locations than other similar businesses.
- Audience: By meeting the needs of a specific audience you’ll become instantly more appealing to those customers.
4. How are you going to advertise your USP?
Once you’ve found your Unique Selling Point, you need to decide how to get the message across to your customers. From branding your business to where you post on social media, there’s an unprecedented range of channels available to Startups to show off your USP’s.
The clearest, most direct way to showcase your USP is to create a slogan which is used across your marketing efforts. You could include it under your logo if short enough, on your business cards or even underneath your signature on emails and letterheads. Keep it snappy, recognisable and easily associated with your brand. Think of how you are going to help your customer, rather than just describing your product or service.
Tesco’s famous slogan ‘Every Little Helps’ subtly gets the supermarket’s key message across that they are cheaper than their competitors, even if by a few pennies. It positions Tesco as a business that wants to help its customers one shop a time; it’s a brand for the people. Advertising correspondent Naresh Ramchandani went as far as to tell The Guardian that it is “perhaps the most ingeniously modest slogan every written”. [https://www.theguardian.com/media/2006/sep/04/mondaymediasection.advertising]
- Through Your Design
You can reinforce your USP through the design and colour scheme of your branding. Did you find that other gyms in the local area lack personality? Inject some fun into your designs by including bright colours and bold fonts to differentiate yourself from the others. Think about what would attract your target audience. If exercise classes near you normally attract a younger audience but you’re targeting the over 55’s, softer and more accessible imagery will suit your USP more than daring, bold design.
- Instant Message in your Name
Go one step further and integrate your USP in your name. As soon as customers hear about your company, they’ll gain an understanding of what you offer, what you stand for and how you can help them. Specsavers instantly demonstrate the affordability of their glasses, whilst burger chain Honest Burgers illustrate the organic, natural and ‘honest’ ingredients used in their recipes. Growing gym operator Xercise4Less openly state that you’ll pay less by choosing them over other gyms and Easyjet promise, in their name alone, to make the normally stressful flying experience, simple.
An entire brand message can be conveyed in a name, so think carefully about what words will suit your USP’s.
- Through Communications & Networking
Whenever you introduce your business, ensure your USP’s are prevalent. Whether that’s speaking to people at networking events, describing your product to customers at a market or the text on your flyers, keep what makes you unique at the forefront. Whether that’s writing “The only night in town with a snow cannon” on your event poster, or asking customers if they’ve ever tried jelly sweets that are 100% Vegan at your food stall. Try and fit in the special qualities at all opportunities.
5. Unique Selling Proposition Examples
Still struggling for inspiration to pinpoint that one essential USP? Here are some brands, large and small, that have focused their marketing efforts and branding around strong USP’s.
“Since 1856…Discover our brand history, including the invention of gabardine and the evolution of our signature trench coat design”, reads the About Us section on the luxury fashion website. Burberry’s British heritage and invention of their staple product, the trench coat, which has lasted throughout the decades is the brand’s leading USP. The website leads you through a timeline of the brand and famous trench coat, marking important points in British history such as military style in the World Wars and fashion of pilots in the 30’s. They cultivate over an entire century of British history into their brand unlike any other luxury fashion retailer in the market today.
Making one of the hundred fastest-growing companies in the UK this year on the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100, Tangle Teezer’s ever growing USP lies within its revolutionary product. The hairbrush detangled hair like no other product on the market, therefore this unique quality catapulted it into the homes of millions of households (including notable celebrities’). Tangle Teezer proves the value of offering, if possible, a distinctive and arguably, irreplaceable, product or service to customers.
Ice cream is for everyone, right? Wrong. “Ice Cream Indulgence” is Magnum’s tagline, positioning themselves to offering “Pure Chocolate Pleasure” as the world’s leading luxury ice cream brand. They heavily market to women who want to treat themselves, using A-List celebrity endorsements from the Kardashians to girl band, Little Mix to attract this specific audience. By concentrating their efforts on one segment of the population and keeping their luxurious branding consistent, their USP as the delectable choice for women makes them a smart and successful brand.
Finding cut through for your Startup will always be one the biggest challenges you face in the small business arena, however, it is increasingly vital if you want to succeed and grow. Remember, the smallest difference will go a long way when customers are choosing who to buy from, so choose a USP that fits your brand and your audience.