Growtion Formula: #05 Product USP

You may wonder why USP – “Unique Selling Point” – is the final Element in the Product Discipline. Surely, it is much more important than that?

It’s true that this is a critical Element and one that requires significant thought. However, it is not possible to consider this correctly until you have completed the other four Elements of Product – Concept, Design, Pricing and Service. Through diving deep into each, you will be alerted to aspects of your Product that are different, that make it unique. It is only through this process – this Discipline, and it is called that for a reason – of Product creation that you can hit on what your USP really is.

Every successful business has at least one Unique Selling Point. If it did not, its easily-replicable features would be copied so often that it would find it difficult to survive. In our notional High Street, let’s take a look at what might make some hairdressers, charity shops, estate agents and betting shops survive when others do not.

People choose one hairdresser over another for a myriad of reasons. At its heart, the trimming of hair is a broadly similar enterprise. But ask someone why they choose one over another and you start to unpack a huge range of reasons, most of which could be considered USPs – at least in the locality in which they are trading. Whether it’s the friendliness of the staff and their interest in – and recall of – the details of your own life, perceived value, cleanliness of the salon, occasional drinks event, length of queue, opening times, particular service provision or dominant brand, something will make someone choose one over another. The smart hairdresser will know what this is and shout about it. Others will try a “me-too” and fail.

Charity shops’ USPs tend to be the destination of the funds that are generated by the enterprise. Aiming to cure cancer, help people less fortunate than average or provide for specific non-human species, each will have its own reason why it appeals to people to either donate their belongings, time or money. Those without these emotive USP’s will tend to fail – the charity shops for retired bankers were not, I believe, very successful at all.

The USP’s for estate agents are interestingly complex. Again, there is relatively little on the face of it that defines one from another – they all sell houses – but their Marketing will focus on differentiators. In general, these will result from a perceived specialism – lettings, higher-value homes, age of the firm or local knowledge of the proprietor, technological innovation – which the company can claim distinctiveness in. This will have been drawn through from their Concept, Design, Pricing and Service. It is a fertile ground for thought regarding any USP’s that you might be looking to develop.

The betting shop’s USPs are much to do with perceived Product differentials, plus proximity to their customers. The reason that their supply is interfered with – councils have limited their prevalence in certain areas – is due to concerns particularly around FOBT’s. These machines require you to be on-site to play them and this appears to be a heavy driver of demand.

In considering your own USPs, it pays to be bold at Concept and Service level. Believe that you can do something that no one else has. Provide a level of Service that none can match. But, just in case I haven’t mentioned it enough so far – never, ever use your Pricing as a USP. If that’s all you’ve got – you’re essentially toast.