You’re so excited because your fabulous new product is about to launch. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but why should anyone care?
Show Me the Money
If you are going to ask consumers for their attention and/or credit card, you better let them know in no uncertain terms how you plan on making their life better. Even more importantly, you must be able to clearly articulate what problem you are solving with your product or service, and how is it different than everything else already in the marketplace.
What is a USP, and Why You Need One
USP is not an alternative delivery service, but a marketing acronym that refers to “Unique Selling Proposition.” A USP is your brand’s point of differentiation, the secret ingredient that what sets it apart from the competition. A good USP describes how your product is uniquely “positioned” in the marketplace. Is it faster, more affordable, better designed, easier to use, hipper, or does it employ a breakthrough technology? There are many ways to formulate a USP, but the bottom line is that you must have one!
Who Are You?
A recent article on the KISSmetrics blog contends that USP is really about what “your business stands for,” and gives a few examples of brands that do it well such as Starbucks, Basecamp, and Zappos. The post also points out that companies that try to be all things to all people, will never be known for anything if they take this broad approach to branding.
We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Features
When thinking about positioning, many founders make the mistake of focusing on their product’s “features” such as user-friendly design, customizable dashboards, unlimited reports, seamless integration, and time usage tracking. Huh? The reality is that consumers don’t give a fig about all of the bells & whistles that cause developers to high-five each other. Consumers just want to know the “benefits” of your product (i.e. what’s in it for me!). They want to know how your product or service is going to save them time and money, or make them smarter, thinner, or happier.
We Seem to Have a Communication Problem
Developing a distinctive USP is a process, not an all-nighter, and requires testing and customer validation. Once you think you have a viable option, please don’t just run it by your geeky friends and colleagues. Instead, try your USP out on potential end users, and see if they “get it” without additional explanation. If they look at you like you are speaking Dothraki, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board (or Thesaurus).
I’d love to hear what Silicon Beach companies you think have good USPs.