USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

What does USP actually mean?

USP is the acronym for Unique Selling Proposition or Unique Selling Point. It is therefore the unique selling point of a product, service or company. It can be anything that makes your product or service unique.

With the help of a USP you can show customers what distinguishes you from your competitors and their products and what makes you better. This is especially important in marketing, as companies, no matter whether they are B2B or B2C oriented, use USPs to focus on the unique user promises of their products. They are often advertised as special features. The following can be the special extra, among others:

  • Exceptional quality of the product/performance
  • Special form or function
  • Technical innovation
  • Seal of quality or origin
  • Price
  • Special know-how
  • Time saving
  • Sustainability
  • Exclusivity
  • Positive ratings

What do USPs bring you?

If you look at the market environment, you will see that it is homogeneous and saturated. This means that there is a broad mass of goods, some of which are interchangeable. For example, in a supermarket you have the choice between about 15 different types of ketchup or a bulging assortment of cheese. It doesn’t matter which ketchup or cheese you choose, unless you insist on your favorite. You can easily exchange or substitute the individual items with each other. These are so-called substitute goods.

In order not to be simply interchangeable, you need USPs for your products. These make it clear to customers why they should choose your product and what sets it apart from others. But you can not only highlight your products with USPs. Unique selling propositions of services also help you to be more attractive to customers. The USP is therefore the basis for whether a product is really successful or not.

What features does a USP have?

There are various characteristics that a product or service can have. But not all of them are USPs at the same time. In order to really be a USP, there are various prerequisites:

  • Uniqueness
    The more unique a product, the fewer substitute goods there are for it – that is only logical. Uniqueness is therefore the basis of a USP. The more unique your product or service is, the better. This greatly increases your competitive advantage.
  • Target group relevance
    Your product can be as unique as it wants to be if it does not meet the wants and needs of your target group. Therefore, it is important that you design the USPs of your services and products in such a way that they actually benefit your target group.
  • Defensibility
    Defensibility ensures that your USPs are not contestable. They therefore deliver what they promise. This is a really important point. Your customers are certainly not satisfied with a product that promises them the moon and delivers nothing. This will lead to bad reviews and customers not being buyers in the future.
  • Profitability
    Of course, your USP should also be economical. If it produces too many costs, it is not worth it. Make sure you don’t become unprofitable just because you want to include special features.

Where does a USP reach its limits?

If something is not unique, you can’t make it unique. One problem is that your product or service may be the only one with a special feature at first. However, this can change relatively quickly. Competitors can also incorporate these features into their products. In the worst case, they may offer their products even cheaper than you can. As a result, you have to develop new USPs for your products and services. But don’t worry – you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Often it is enough to add complementary USPs to the original USP that further define it and make it even more unique.

In addition, USPs are especially useful in the early stages of the product life cycle, as they generate attention and are well suited for promotional purposes. Once the product is established, the promotional effect of USPs is less. If the demand for a product is saturated, USPs are of almost no use to you.

During the first two phases of the product life cycle, USPs are particularly relevant

Step by step: How to find the right USPs for your products and services

  1. Analyse the market and its trends
    Only if you know what is currently on the market, where it is going and what will be needed in the future, can you find the perfect gap for your product or service.
  2. Conduct a benchmark – What are the USPs of your competitors?
    What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ products and services? Take a close look at your competitors’ offerings to learn from their mistakes and best practices.
  3. Find your own strengths
    Now you know your competitors pretty well. Now the question is: Where are your own strengths? Think about what has the best effect on the outside world and on customers and what makes you unique.
  4. Analyse your target group – what are the buying motives?
    To make a product or service successful, you need to know the needs and wishes of your target group. Here we come back to the keyword target group relevance: What motivates them to buy? What is important to them? Take a close look at the customers’ buying decisions.
  5. Identify the potentials
    Do you know your weak points? Good! Use them to optimize them. This is the only way to fully exploit your potential.
  6. Define your USPs
    The time has come: You know your strengths, your competitors and your customers. It’s time to roughly define your USPs. With the help of creativity techniques, you can easily come up with good ideas.
  7. Formulate your USPs
    The ideas are there, now it’s time to formulate and disseminate them. Use the communication channels available to you to inform your customers.
  8. Build sustainable uniqueness and defensibility
    The USPs will only make the product/service successful in the long term if they remain truly unique and credible. So, make sure that you maintain, strengthen and regularly test the uniqueness. In addition, your products/services must deliver what they promise or their USPs over time.

The most important questions at a glance

What does USP stand for?

USP is the acronym for Unique Selling Proposition or Unique Selling Point. It is the unique selling proposition of a product, a service or a company. It can be anything that makes your product or service unique.

What requirements should you have for a USP?

There are several requirements for a USP: uniqueness, target group relevance, defensibility and profitability.

What are the limits of a USP?

Often USPs are adopted by competitors by adding these features to their own products. Therefore, make sure that you keep looking at, strengthening and reviewing your USPs. Add enhancing USPs that, for example, define the existing one in more detail. This will make it even more unique.

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