Having your unique selling proposition down pat can help you differentiate and stand out from the noise.
By offering an email outreach solution as part of out software, it pigeon hole’d us into being a cold email tool. We weren’t the best at any one thing because we couldn’t be.
Our data can be used for more than cold email. Our support requests were 90% related to email. Nearly all of our training material was about getting responses to your cold emails.
By making this major decision to remove it from our system, it massively lessened our support burden, but more importantly it allowed us to get VERY clear on what we needed to do.
We were going to focus on being a supplier of the freshest lead data possible. This would be our unique selling proposition.
In fact, just from putting this post together we went from this home page message:
I’ll get more into brand positioning statements and unique value propositions in a second, but if you’re curious – LeadFuze is a software solution to help you build lists of accurate leads automatically, while integrating with sales outreach tools to allow you to contact those freshly verified leads.
To sell your product or service, your goal is to quickly attract the attention of your target audience in attempt to make a sale. Having a solid unique selling proposition for your product is the ultimate weapon in the fight for attention.
The ideas from this blog are from the amazing Copy Chief forum, a place where business owners and advanced copywriters get together to discuss and improve sales messaging.
If you are looking to improve the sales copy for your product or service, I highly suggest you join this community.
First thing to know:
Unique selling proposition = Unique value proposition = Brand positioning statement
Different people use different phrasing, but it’s all the same.
Because they’re all the same, you’ll hear me use “unique selling proposition“, “unique value proposition“, and “brand positioning statement” interchangeably throughout this post.
So, what is a unique selling proposition? Simply put, it’s what makes you different from your competition.
“If I am your ideal customer, why should I buy from you rather than any of your competitors?”
It seems simple, but it’s deceivingly simple.
If I am choosing something, why should I choose this option over that option?
Marketing is all about choice. If there’s no choice, there’s no need to do marketing and persuasion!
If I am your ideal customer –
- You must clearly define your ideal customer.
- A unique selling proposition must be stated from their point of view. Use customer-centric logic. Put yourself in their shoes.
Why should I buy from you? –
- A Unique selling proposition must form a rational argument. Emotions are important but so is logic.
- Explain the reasoning why the customer should buy from you.
- Meaning it must start with the word “Because.”
Rather than any of your competitors –
- A unique selling proposition must have an “exclusivity” factor.
- A dimension that separates you from your market.
- There needs to be an element that ONLY YOU can deliver.
Purpose of a business
If you don’t have a unique selling proposition, everything else fails. That’s why you may find some advertising feels weird.
The unique selling proposition gets what you do into the minds of your market.
A USP is why we choose! When you’re forced to make choices, you calculate the value of option one versus option two.
If you want to be chosen, everything you do must have a USP!
If there isn’t a compelling reason to be chosen, you won’t be.
Start with your product or service’s unique selling proposition because it’s the most tangible. But you also need a personal and company USP.
Nike USP vs Adidas USP
- because Nike is the company that focuses on peak athletic performance.
Adidas USP –
- because Adidas is the most popular brand when it comes to urban sports style.
The problem is when you start messaging a brand positioning statement that your audience isn’t getting.
It’s all about how people actually perceive your USP. So you have to make sure your USP is being read correctly by your audience.
Assuming both of these high end music services have what I need.
The unique value proposition isn’t based on the product itself but stuff around it.
Every music service has a big portfolio of songs nowadays, so you have to find something greater than that to sell to your audience.
Example of three tiers of unique selling propositions
Legitimate questions you need to ask in your marketing! Customers are asking themselves this!
You have a USP whether you know it or not. There’s a conversation going on about your product.
Right now, everybody at the fishmarket looks the same. But the unique value proposition for the first lady on the left is … she’s the first on the left.
She hasn’t utilized it yet though!
Her fish may come from a specific part of the Pacific Ocean where there’s no pollution, the fish is caught every day and flown to this market. But you can’t tell right now and you have no reason to choose her over everyone else.
Driftt (Now just Drift) sent 4 vague emails spread out over months.
It’s an opportunity missed on building a relationship and establishing your brand positioning statement.
Who are these people, and why should we care?
So I went to their website … which was also super vague.
They’re asking a lot to click on those links and don’t give much detail. Their brand positioning statement is vague.
They’re suffering from a marketing condition called Keyword-itis. Because everyone sees Google and SEO as the savior of business, they go out and think if they condense what they do into a good word or phrase, people will find them on the web. “Engage”? “Relationship Marketing”? What does that mean?
Worse than that, they’ve done this careful work with keywords to get attention, and then they’ve completely wasted that attention!
So Ross wrote them and asked: WHAT DO YOU DO?
AKA … more vague!!! And it’s in closed beta, so don’t ask any questions.
Why would you share more specifics later when you’ve just announced that you’re here? Ross could be their ideal customer, but there’s no way he can know.
He got the T-shirt and a nice handwritten note. So they give out nice quality stuff, but we still don’t know why we should care about their work … whatever it is.
Turns out Drifft was founded by David Cancel, a proven CEO who’s made good stuff, but we still don’t know what Drifft does! So we can’t buy, can’t tell our friends about them, etc.
Editors Note: They have since branded to Drift and have absolutely nailed their unique selling proposition by creating an entirely new category called “Conversational Marketing”. This is super common for early stage companies to not yet know their unique value.
Take a look at what they’re up to now and you can see they’ve done a lot of work to position their brand in the minds of their customers.
Here’s a company who did their unique value proposition well:
Aldo had never lost a fight and shuns the spotlight.
He doesn’t strike you as a charismatic guy, and in 10 years of never being defeated, he’s never gotten much attention.
McGregor has entered the UFC by storm, very talented fighter and big trash talker, so he’s built up a huge fan following.
So it’s easy to call this the biggest fight in UFC history.
The UFC looked at all the media attention McGregor was bringing (including MMA) and they’re like, this is going to be massive.
So they put more marketing behind this than ever before in UFC history.
When Aldo got injured and could no longer fight, the UFC had to find a new USP with two weeks notice.
Result? Sales increased anyway!
The UFC probably had a USP on backup in case there was an injury. And McGregor won!
Above picture: Rogan looking like Holly Holm just kicked him in the face (after she whupped Ronda Rousey).
If you can find a compelling unique value proposition and deliver, it increases your stock 10x.
Now the McGregor vs Aldo fight is going to have even MORE interest! Because McGregor just proved he’s hardcore and people will wanna see how he fares against Aldo.It increases your stock 10x. Click To Tweet
What makes a powerful unique selling proposition?
Elements of a powerful USP:
- Claims of value (appeal and exclusivity)
- “Facts” – the quantifiable specific nuggets of information related to your claims of value that back it up
- A crisp USP statement
Appeal vs Exclusivity
Appeal breeds success and the competition is quick to imitate.
What’s appealing about Spotify and Apple, for example? It’s being able to access a huge portfolio of music, but it’s not exclusive now because everyone’s doing that.
Appeal is the price of admission. If it’s not appealing, you’re out. But exclusivity is where the magic happens. It’s easy to manufacture exclusivity but it’s not always appealing.
For example … the Bieb:
Kevin could make this hat an exclusive part of Copy Chief membership tomorrow. (“Enjoy the hat! Don’t cut yourself on it.”)
Guaranteed no other marketing community is doing this … but how appealing is it? Not very.
So what you want to look for is the sweet spot between appeal AND exclusivity:
If people come to a conclusion themselves, they own it and decide that’s reality.
It’s the most potent thing you can do in any sales copy.
Sprint may make the claim that they have the best customer service in the US and are the leading provider … but what does “leading” mean?
It means you’re not #1 but want to be #1. How many claim they have the best service and best coverage?
But if Sprint came out tomorrow and says their coverage covers 97% of all US territory and they have a 99.9% customer service uptown, they’re specific, quantitative, and can be backed up.
When people are making those big claims, what they want to say is, “Choose us because you’ll be covered and won’t have problems.”
You can show them the facts so they can conclude this choice is good enough for them.
Sprint is constantly running specials and campaigns probably because they don’t have a unique selling proposition.
Such a hyper-competitive market, such finite differences between one service or another.
There is that USP war going on. What’s the response from competitors?
Takeaway: be specific and quantitative in your language.
Effective unique selling propositions in action
Their USP is: Earl of Sandwich invented the sandwich, and it’s implied they’re the best sandwiches.
Facts: 250 years of experience making sandwiches, they bake the bread when you order, they roast the meat every morning, and they use traditional family recipes.
This all comes down to lifestyle.
The iPhone cover is for “people who can put their phone down.”
You’re getting a strong sense of who the ideal customer is.
So what’s the USP?
REMEMBER: A great USP doesn’t make claims. It fosters conclusions!!!
Right away, you’re identifying the ideal customer: owners of big dogs.
The experiment is they take this pressure sensor on the ground and showing red spots where the dog’s joints are rubbing against the ground.
This is a big problem for big dogs, which have notorious joint problems.
In these tests, the 4th bed (Big Barker’s) shows the dog is fully supported.
Again, Big Barker isn’t telling people what to think, they’re using devices like this to let people believe the truth for themselves.
It’s not slight of hand.
The ideal customer is the person who wants only the best for their dog, so they’ll know about these issues with dog joints, and about low quality crap coming out of China.
That’s why you have to be intimate with your ideal customer and know what they know and what they’re worried about.
How to craft a killer unique selling proposition
- Discover your existing unique selling proposition. Whether you think you have one or not, you have one. There are certain claims of value and elements of value within your product and business, and you need to uncover what they are. What the contributors that contribute to my appeal and exclusivity?
- Then, strengthen your USP. You may need to work on your business. The bonus is, when you see what levers you can pull, there’s nothing stopping you from raising certain levers so as to attract your ideal customer.
The first time you figure out a company’s unique selling proposition, it becomes super easy to write the website copy.
You simply expand on the company’s facts and claims and put it on the page.
Many businesses don’t know their own USP so having the skillset to uncover what it is will mean your copywriting will produce results that far outweigh other strategies or copywriters.
You NEED to state the first question correctly so you can then understand which claims of value are important.
Step two is fun. ID 5-10 claims of value. If you can find more, better. There’s no such thing as too many.
Step 3 is to rate appeal and exclusivity of each.
You can do this on paper or a spreadsheet. Rank these values. Be as objective as possible.
Don’t think that just because you find something appealing, other people will as well. Get a third party’s opinion.
Own your brand positioning statement
Let’s do a little brand positioning statement “word association” to get your gears turning.
Just Do It.
Save Money. Live Better.
The Most Magical Place on Earth.
I’m Lovin’ It.
Have any trouble identifying who and what is being sold in those phrases?
That’s because these giant corporations understand the importance of — and have worked hard to develop their own — short taglines, elevator pitches, and catch phrases.
How do they write something so powerful that makes the world practically memorize it?
All great brands OWN their positioning.
These taglines above aren’t (necessarily) the brand positioning statements of the companies, but they are (we assume) derived from very detailed and well-crafted unique value propositions and brand positions.
We’ve started by defining the target market.
Next, we got more specific by defining our ideal client.
Then, we took a look at how our product lines up with those factors to form our unique value proposition.
Now, we’ll dive into developing your own brand positioning statement by boiling it all down into one super sleek pitch for your brand.
After all, a brand positioning statement is like your brand’s elevator pitch.
Hopefully, you’ve done all of the research to be in the right place, talking to the right people. Now you (or your reps) just need the right thing to say.
“Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” — Jeff Bezos
If you do a Google search for the term “brand positioning statement”, you’ll notice several methods to develop one.
The method we recommend using was developed by a man named Geoffrey Moore (called “Moore’s Positioning”).
His template is incredibly helpful in really getting your positioning concise, but it will help to re-go over some of our terms from the earlier positioning portions of this post.
Here are the three things we’ve gone over:
- Target Market & Competitive Landscape: The two basic components every B2B organization must know in order to garner sales growth are their customers and their competitors. Our first module was a deep dive into this subject.
- Ideal Client Profile: Moving deeper than a specific industry is among the other factors companies have. Their size, revenue, and the roles of the decision makers all play a role in defining your ideal client. The second module covers this at length.
- Unique Value Proposition (UVP): Making a clear distinction between yourself and the competition comes by understanding which of your features appeal to your ideal clients. This happens best when a brand creates a UVP. This is covered in module three.
If your Brand Positioning Statement is the finished product, each of these items are the ingredients that are put together and cooked down to get it.
Now, onto Dr. Moore’s template.
- For: Who are your target clients and industries.
- Who: The most prominent pain point or problem of those ideal buyers.
- Our product is a: A vivid, yet short description of the solution.
- That provides: This is where the unique value goes, cut down into a pithy statement.
- Unlike: Just a quick mention of competition for reference.
- Our product: The key difference between you and the other company vying for your prospects.
A quick look at this framework and you probably understand how all of these modules are fitting together.The goal is to help you come up with a statement that really defines your brand. Click To Tweet
A well-conceived brand positioning statement allows you and all the members of your team to clearly communicate at all levels of your organization.
Boil It Down Further
While we do suggest to have a detailed brand positioning statement like Moore’s, you can also create an abridged version that will help get a different nuance.
Using more than one template will help gain perspective and really hone in on the value you can provide and to whom it will be provided.
A simplified version can help you identify potential clients that are more likely to become devoted and loyal to your brand.
One of the more simple examples:
- Core Client: Who are the 20% of clients that make up 80% of your business?
- Value: What’s the one statement that personifies why those 20% of customers love you?
- Promise: How can you convey that thing in a promise to your prospects?
5 Steps to Develop a Dynamite Brand Positioning Statement
Step One: Write Some for Your Favorite Brands (or Competitors)
One of the best ways to do this is to practice on some of the most well-known brands in the world and work backwards.
Let’s try a couple using both of our templates.
Example of Moore’s Positioning: Disney Parks “The Most Magical Place on Earth”
For: Middle and upper income families.
Who: Work hard, need an escape and want to provide their children a memorable experience.
Our product is a: Completely immersive parks that transports people to a different place.
That provides: An experience that comes with everything you and your family need to enjoy vacation; all on the same property.
Unlike: Universal Studios
Our Product: Provides more than an amusement park. We transport guests to a different (magical) world altogether.
Example of a Concise Positioning Statement: Slack “Where Work Happens”
Core Client: Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with collaborative teams.
Value: A messaging platform that allows users to bring together all of the common software tools together in one place for ideal teamwork.
Promise: Improve communication and get more done.
Try reverse engineering the slogans of your favorite companies or those in a similar industry.
There are likely many benefits to doing this with your competitors as well.
Make a list of the two or three companies closest to your market and see what they offer that’s unique.
Step Two: Boil Down Your Ideal Client Profile
You know the company size, revenue, and key individuals that you need to target.
All of this information belongs in your ideal client profiles (ICP) and buyer personas.
That said, most of it can be stripped down for your position statement.
The “Who” or “Core Client” doesn’t need to be “American metal fabricators doing between $10-$20 million annually and with less than 100 employees”.
It can be, but that’s not the point of this exercise.
Instead, it may be something along the lines of, “U.S. based SMB manufacturing companies”.Your ICP is to help you qualify leads, your positioning is for communicating value. Click To Tweet
Step Three: Boil Down Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
Very similar to step two. Your UVP helps you target a few things:
- Why people buy your stuff over the other companies.
- Elaborate your uniqueness as a product/service/company.
- Tell that story across all the platforms of your brand.
The things you pull from your UVP mainly consist of the key benefits of your products and the expressed pains of your ideal clients.
A UVP of Uber may be, “One tap and a car comes directly to you. Hop in—your driver knows exactly where to go. And when you get there, just step out. Payment is completely seamless.”
However, in a brand positioning statement, it may be:
For: Travellers who need reliable transportation.
Who: Don’t want the hassle of buses or taxis.
Our Product is: a fairly-priced ride, arriving in minutes at the push of a button.
It doesn’t happen 100% of the time, but there could be a few benefits that you thought were “key” which may not be on the top of the list of your buyers.
Reminder: This is why you need to get on the phone with buyers and ask plainly why they bought. They’ll tell you and it may be a shocker.
Uber’s Unique Value
We all know that Uber is disrupting the Taxi industry, but if you look closely, that’s not really their competition.
What are they competing with?
From the site’s web copy, we see a story of what their ideal clients are concerned with and it’s not a fight against the machine of Taxis.
It’s about proving their value and convenience.
There are tons of benefits and cool things about getting an Uber.
- Be honest, it’s cool. You want to ride up somewhere in a car with a personal driver.
- Great for special occasions, too. Weddings, parties, etc…
- A fantastic alternative to drunk driving. There have been studies that prove and disprove this, but it’s a way safer bet to get an Uber.
But, these aren’t the reasons why people download the app.
All the pages of the site tell the story of speed, ease, and value.
Uber UVP #1: Hassle-Free and Fast Riding
Uber UVP #2: Affordable Pricing
Moreover, the site is very focused on these two points. Here’s a screenshot of the homepage at one time, just below the fold.
Uber-Focused (pun intended): The site is streamlined, yet large. If you want to find intricate details about the company, you’re going to have to go to the footer menu (which is quite large). Other than that, it’s focused on those two UVPs.
Not every single positive attribute of their brand and service.
Step Four: Make a Promise
Promises are the power of the proposition.
They are infused throughout our Uber example.
Even statements like, “Always On, Always Available” are promises themselves.An effective UVP is impossible without promising your prospects the things that make you unique. Click To Tweet
In fact, it’s impossible to have an effective UVP without promising your prospects that you can accomplish the things that make you unique.
It’s a huge key to the level of influence you have on prospects.
Let’s look at the three styles of promise in Uber’s unique value proposition language.
Matter of Fact
“One tap and a car comes directly to you. Hop in—your driver knows exactly where to go. And when you get there, just step out. Payment is completely seamless.”
Just tell them what they’ll get when using your stuff.
Don’t preface it, don’t explain yourself, just say it.
This copy reads like a bullet-pointed list, but it conveys the value of their brand so well. It’s an extended version of the next type of promise.
“Tap a Button, Get a Ride”
This is the kind of statement that sells to those who don’t like to waste time.
There really isn’t much more you need to stay.
It’s this statement that falls into the “Moore’s Positioning” level, but that’s another post.
But what if we don’t have a driver? What if it takes them 15 minutes to get there?
What if, what if?
These are a few of the things you may have considered when you read this very bold promise.
Sure, there’s a risk that someone will have an unrealistic expectation in their head about this promise and never use the service again.
That said, this does bring up an important point about your promises. Make sure you account for them.
Uber has everything tracked so well that you can see who your driver is, where they are, and how long it will take them to get to you.
So, if a user taps that button, they’ll be “in the know”.
It’s not like ordering a pizza and then getting the old “30 minutes to an hour”.
Uber lets users be as informed as they want to be, which helps them make such a bold promise.
Ensure that you can do the same with your promises and be bold.
Step Five: Take a Shot at the Competition
Doing a mock brand positioning statement for your competitors really comes in handy here.
You know who you’re up against, but you may not have taken the time to figure out exactly why someone would want to use your company over “them”.
For this, you’ll need to know two things:
- Who they are (not too difficult)
- Why you’re better (may be slightly more difficult)
Pro Tip: If there isn’t a large difference between you and your competitors, use the niche you’ve selected to make one. Rework your web copy, change your sales presentations, and even change the product to be the best in [insert your product’s industry] that’s built for [insert your target market].
Step Six: Write and Rewrite
A noun change here and a different verb there can go a long way to making your brand positioning statement “click”.
Changing the language and working all your info into a few drafts will help you feel more comfortable with the process.
The finished product needs to be something that you’re comfortable with sharing at luncheons, sponsored events, and anywhere else where someone may ask, “So, what’s your company do again?”
Now, it’s time to use finer tools and begin to sculpt the details of your unique value proposition in a way that communicates its worth to your target audience.
Essentially, you’re trying to get it down to one good paragraph.
And I don’t mean, “Meh, that’ll work.”
It has to be what your company does for its customers summarized in a way that makes people understand the brand in a few short sentences.
Doing this will dramatically improve the buying cycle and the power of the sales team.
Moreover, it’s the UVP that will impact many future decisions including:
- Website Copy: Expanding that paragraph where necessary to explain things further.
- Product Updates: Once you understand how your brand intersects with its customers, changes become easier to see and implement (also more successful).
- New Products/Services: Similar to updates, entirely new products, features, and services can increase your company’s revenue with a good UVP understanding.
Just take a look at the homepage copy of Uber (screenshot below). A few short paragraphs that convey the two biggest sales points of the company — convenience and affordability.
Here are the ways to fine tune your own research into a smooth UVP statement.
Multiple Drafts, Multiple People
You’ll likely have a lot of movement early on.
Deciding which personas to target, which of their pains to speak to, and how to convey those things in as little language as possible.
That’s perfectly ok!
It’s a fluid process.
Have multiple members of your team come up with multiple drafts. Piece together the most effective language and have a few different versions to split test over time.
Testing can happen through email marketing (checking the response), web copy, or even in your sales presentations.
Ask for Honest Feedback from Colleagues and Customers
Send your top 3 options to colleagues, people in your mastermind, and even your current customers to see how it hits them.
It’s important to get input and feedback at every stage of this process.
If you’re relying on your own intuition and not research, there is no way to forecast results.
Those in similar industries or who use the products will be able to provide feedback from a place of experience. Use it.
Hire a Copywriter
Once you have your 2-3 versions of your unique value proposition, it may be time to bring in some help.
A copywriter isn’t going to know which features your customers like most, but if you’ve done this research, a skilled wordsmith will be able to convey it in a way that makes people feel the way you want them to about your products/brand.
If you’re bootstrapping it’s not 100% necessary, but it’s not a waste of money to pay a qualified, well-referenced copywriter to really make your value stand out.
How Your Brand Positioning Statement Helps Sales
To build a highly functional lead infrastructure, it takes precision.
A great brand positioning statement will help you gather better leads and do it faster.
All while communicating more effectively with prospects.
But it’s not the whole picture.
There are actually four basic things you’ll need to have a laser-focus on your lead generation methods. Here’s a brief look at each, as well as further resources to help you develop each.
1. Target Market & Competitive Landscape
Researching and choosing a target market can lower the number of leads you have to track, while increasing the number of sales you make.
Knowing how competitive your industry is can help you develop better products and pivot efficiently, thus increasing sales efficiency.
Further Reading: Great piece from Crazy Egg on how to find your target market.
2. Ideal Client Profile
Target markets help you figure out who wants to buy and how you can better serve them, but now it’s about finding who’s buying right now.
To do this, you’ll need to figure out who you are most likely to impress and where to find those specific buyers to target.
A target market helps you a little, an ideal company profile helps you a lot.
Further Reading: Our post on the subject, which you can find right here
3. Unique Value Proposition
Now that you know who you’ll be talking to, it’s time to start figuring out how to interact with them.
The UVP helps with all communication including: content marketing, email, and web copy.
But it’s also very helpful in determining how your company will interact with outbound leads, or moreover, how qualified leads will interact with you.
4. Brand Positioning
This is the final dish that comes out after you throw all the other ingredients in the crock pot and let them simmer down.
The brand’s position is vital and must be known and kept central in all marketing and sales efforts.
It will help your reps know who the company is and what the products can accomplish in a quick and easy statement.
Further Reading: Six more tips via Entrepreneur on this very subject.
All of these elements come together to create a laser-focused sales message that your entire team can and should wrap themselves around.
Will you tweak things? Of course.
But everything you change should be calculated, documented and tested.
Connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know how your unique selling proposition is coming along!How you make revenue (your products) should NOT be what you sell. Sell the results. Click To Tweet
Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? I’d love to hear from you!
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