5 Proven Ways to Create a Blockbuster Unique Selling Proposition

You’ve heard of USP. A strong unique selling proposition can produce more sales because it works to engrain new long-term memory. A proven way to differentiate yourself from your competitors is through repositioning your copy and design. If you haven’t examined your USP lately, there’s a good chance you’re not leveraging your unique strengths as strategically as you could. Here are five proven ideas to help you refine your USP and create a blockbuste

You’ve heard of USP. A strong unique selling proposition can produce more sales because it works to engrain new long-term memory. A proven way to differentiate yourself from your competitors is through repositioning your copy and design. If you haven’t examined your USP lately, there’s a good chance you’re not leveraging your unique strengths as strategically as you could. Here are five proven ideas to help you refine your USP and create a blockbuster campaign.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate what repositioning a USP can do to skyrocket response. For client Collin Street Bakery, a number of years ago, we repositioned the product from what is widely called fruitcake to a “Native Texas Pecan Cake.” Sales increased 60 percent over the control in prospecting direct mail with a repositioned USP. For client Assurity Life Insurance, repositioning the beneficiary of the product, through analysis of data, increased response 35 percent, and for another Assurity campaign, response increased 60 percent (read the Assurity case study here).

First, it may be helpful to clarify what a Unique Selling Proposition isn’t:

  • Customer service: Great customer service doesn’t qualify because your customer expects you’ll provide great customer service and support in the first place.
  • Quality: Same thing as customer service. It’s expected.
  • Price: You can never win if you think your USP is price and price cutting (or assuming that a high price will signify better quality).

A strong USP boosts the brain’s ability to absorb a new memory because you’ll be seen as distinct from competitors.

Identifying your position, or repositioning an existing product or service, is a process. Most organizations should periodically reposition their products or services (or in the case of a non-profit, reposition why someone may be moved to contribute to your cause).

Here are five approaches I’ve used to better understand buyers, and create a repositioned USP to deliver blockbuster results:

  1. Interview customers and prospects. Talk directly with customers about why they have purchased or supported your organization. And for contrast, talk directly with prospects about why they didn’t act. You can interview by phone, but a better approach, in my experience, is in a focus group setting. Focus groups are an investment, so make sure you have two things in order: first, a completely considered and planned discussion guide of questions; and second, an interviewer who can probe deeply with questions. Key word: “deeply.” Superficial questions aren’t like to get what you want. Ask why a question was answered in a specific way, then ask “why?” again and again. Your moderator must be able to continually peel back the onion, so to speak, to get to a deeper why. Knowing the deeper why can be transformational for all concerned.
  2. Review customer data. Profile your customer list. A profile can be obtained from many data bureaus to review more than basic demographics, to more deeply understand your customer’s interests and behaviors. You need to understand what your customer does in their spare time, for example, what they read and, to the degree possible, what they think. Getting a profile report is usually affordable, but the real cost may be in retaining someone from outside your organization to interpret the data on your behalf, drawing inferences and conclusions, and transforming raw numbers into charts and graphics and imagining the possibilities. If you have someone on your staff who can lead that charge, another option is to have open discussions with your team as you review the data and to commit to describing the persona of your best customer. Make this an ongoing process. You’re not going to completely imagine and profile your customer in a one-hour meeting.
  3. Analyze only your best customers. As a subset of the prior point, consider analyzing only your very top customers. You’ve heard of the Pareto Principle, where 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. Over the years, I’ve conducted many customer analyses. I have yet to find exactly an “80/20” balance, but I have found, at the “flattest,” a 60/40 weighting, that is, 60% of a company’s revenue coming from 40% of its customers (this for a business-to-consumer marketer). At the other extreme, for a business-to-business corporation, the weighting was 90/10, where 90% of business came from just 10% of customers. Knowing this balance can be essential, too, to creating your position. If you were the organization who derived 90% of youir business from just 10% of customers, chances are you’d listen very closely to only those 10% of customers as you evaluate your position. In this instance, if you were to reposition your organization, you have to ask yourself at what risk. Conversely, in the 60/40 weighted organization, repositioning most likely doesn’t have the same level of exposure.
  4. Review prospect modeled data. If you are using modeled mailing lists, make sure you look at the subset of data you’re mailing for the common characteristics of your best prospect. Like the profile of customers (mentioned in the previous point), you need to transform the data into charts and graphs, to reveal trends and insights. Then have a discussion and arrive at your interpretation of results.
  5. Conduct a competitive analysis. Examine a competitor’s product or service and compare it to your offer. Be harsh on yourself. While conducting focus groups, you might allocate some of your discussion to your competitors and find out who buys from whom. As you look at your competitor’s products, make sure you analyze their positioning in the market. Much can be learned from analysis of a competitor’s online presence.

Follow these steps to smartly reposition your USP, and you’re on the way repositioning your own product or service that could deliver a new blockbuster campaign.

Reinventing Direct Marketers

Staying relevant requires reinventing your skills and marketing approaches. That’s why today we’re launching Reinventing Direct, a new blog where we share what we’re learning about new direct marketing approaches in practical, easy-to-understand recommendations, all geared toward direct marketers, so you can reinvent yourself and become a catalyst for change in your organization

Staying relevant requires reinventing your skills and marketing approaches. Just over a decade ago, many direct marketers moved beyond direct mail and reinvented their approach by creating basic websites, using email marketing and more. But now a decade later, reinventing direct marketing core competencies requires understanding and using even more tools.

As we have evolved and reinvented our traditional direct marketing skills over the years, the editors of Target Marketing have invited us to evolve from our online video marketing blog to broader topics.

Today we launch Reinventing Direct, a new blog where we share what we’re learning about new direct marketing approaches in practical, easy-to-understand recommendations all geared toward direct marketers, so you can reinvent yourself and become a catalyst for change in your organization.

(If the video isn’t just above this line, click here to view it.)

We’ve chosen online competitive analysis as our first blog topic. Why? Because every thoughtful new business plan and marketing plan includes an analysis of the competition. In addition, at least once every year you should investigate what your competitors are doing online. It will make you sharper and more competitive.

Today you’ll learn about 10 tools you can use to compare how you stack up with your digital direct marketing efforts compared to your competitors. The tools we share in today’s video will give you data points on several areas of online marketing including:

  • Where to get a grade for your website’s overall effectiveness
  • Where you stand with SEO
  • Inbound link comparisons (with domain authority)
  • How your website performs on mobile devices
  • Traffic to your website compared to competitors
  • Engagement and reputation metrics
  • Demographic data comparisons of the age, presence of children, income, education and ethnicity of those going to your site versus your competitors
  • Social media comparisons
  • How your site ranks for keywords compared to competitors
  • Competitor’s daily pay-per-click budgets, average paid position, and the estimated value of daily organic traffic
  • How to know when your competitor has new information posted on the Web
  • The source where you can go back in time to check what was on a competitor’s website in the past

There are many online analysis tools available, and we encourage you to search for them and check them out. We also invite you to share your recommendations of other services that you have successfully used. Please post your recommendations in the comments section below.