Unique Selling Propositions (USPs): Trigger Questions for Defining Yours

Have you recently been asked the question “What makes your company different?” or “What makes your company unique?”

From pitches to proposals and RFP responses, to sales messaging, positioning and strategy, you need a firm understanding of your USP. Because when you have it, you’re able to quickly communicate the two most important questions prospects care about most:

  • What can you do for me?
  • Why you?

Entire books have been written about finding and defining your value proposition. This one by Strategzyr is amazing, so if you have the time, grab it.

But if you don’t have time to go through the entire Strategyzr process, here are some immediate questions that can help you define your value proposition now. (And you can always layer these questions onto the Strategyzr process if you go through it later)

You will need

  • A big whiteboard. This is going to be your shared memory space.
  • Colleagues. This exercise is best done in a group.
  • Your phone. So you can take a picture when you’re done.

Let’s Begin: USP Area 1 – Your Value

Note: this exercise can be done for your company as a whole, or a particular product or service you offer. These questions are for the former but can easily be adapted for the latter.

  • How does your company create value? If relevant, what is the tried, tested and repeatable process you use?
  • How is this value delivered to your customers? Why?
  • Think about the process of working with you from the customer perspective. What are the critical moments? How does your company excel at those moments?
  • Vs. competitors, is there a difference in payback in the short, medium and long-term?
  • At what point in the value delivery process does your organisation drive 10x competitor claims? 100x?
  • How do you help your customers avoid the most common mistakes? What situations are prevented? What savings are created as a result?
  • How do you make yourself the safe option to choose versus competitors?

USP Area 2 – Your Target Audience & Customers

  • Who do you serve?
  • Why do they need you?
  • When do they need you? Consider making a customer journey map.
  • Why do you like serving them?
  • How do you adapt to their changing needs?
  • Why do they stay with you?
  • How many times do they transact with you? For how long?
  • How easy is it for them to get rid of you if they don’t like you?
  • Who don’t you serve? Why?

USP Area 3 – Your People

  • Who leads your company? Who founded it?
  • Who are your key personnel?
  • Where do they join you from?
  • What special skills do they offer?

USP Area 4 – Your Purpose

  • Why does your organisation do what you do? * This is a huge differentiator that competitors will have trouble copying.

USP Area 5 – Your Tools, Technologies and Facilities

  • What customer beneficial technologies do you use?
  • How were they selected versus other options?
  • What do they provide you with?
  • What do they enable you to do?
  • Are you planning on developing any new tech or capability? What, why, when and for whom?
  • Where do you operate from? What advantages does this create for your customer?

USP Area 6 – Your Recognition

  • Evidence. What are the most important pieces of evidence that your solution works? As Neuromarketing asserts, it’s better to have a small selection of high-impact examples versus a higher quantity of low-impact ones.
  • Awards. Have you won any? If none yet, what are you planning to enter? When? Why?
  • Certifications. Any? If none yet, what are you planning on getting? When? Why?
  • Customer Satisfaction. Have you done any customer surveys? Net Promoter?

USP Area 7 – Your Vision

  • Where is your company going? On what trajectory?
  • New products?
  • New geographies?
  • New hires?
  • New strategic partnerships?

USP Area 8 – Your Strategic Partnerships

  • Who do you work with?
  • How does this provide you with expertise, access or function?

USP Area 9 – Your Key Clientele

  • What are your client success stories? If none yet, works in progress? * It’s fine to respect NDAs by withholding identifying details.

USP Area 10 – Summarising

Using all the information from your exercise, edit into a succinct summary answering:

  • Who your company is
  • What your company does
  • Who your company can best help and why
  • Your benefit led differences and solution time frame
  • Proof
  • Awards and recognition areas

Feel free to chop and change up the sequence based on your situation. There’s no one right way here.

As your USPs take shape, frame your messaging in terms of what your customer will receive. Avoid ‘we do this’ or ‘we do that’ and instead opt for ‘Our customers receive…’

Extra: Test Your USP’s with Digital Marketing

If you would like to test your messaging for effectiveness, you can quickly do so online. For example, with smart Google AdWords management, you can rotate ad copy variations to see which attracts the highest click-through and conversion volume. Landing page AB Testing can go a step further. Using this real performance data will help you to validate and prioritise.

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