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Unique Selling Proposition

How To Create An Irresistible Offer

Rich Schefren is one of my business heroes, and here he gives you his tips on how to craft an irresistible offer, an offer your strong prospects realise they can’t refuse or ignore.

In my six steps profits formula, I refer to this as an irresistible promise because I like to emphasise that it comes with your commitment to deliver the benefits the customer expects to receive.

You’ll find a lot on this subject on this website since it is a topic that fascinates me in terms of how you create something uniquely special to a targeted group of customers and how you put the offer into words.

Anyway, here is the video from Rich. It’s just over two hours long, so get yourself a drink and be ready to take notes in your journal.

[continue reading…]

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning, Copywriting, Internet Marketing

As I look at classic offers which have defined a business, a great way to start is with the offer  / USP which built up Domino’s Pizza since it is so often quoted as a fine example.

“Fresh hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less… or it’s free.”

There are so many reasons why this is such a great positioning statement.

Looking At The Domino’s Classic USP Using The 7 Big Questions

Let’s look through the lens of the 7 big questions of differentiation.

There’s “the what” – fresh hot pizza

There’s “the how” – delivered – you don’t have to make any effort

There’s “the where” – to your door

There’s the when – in 30 minutes or less

And finally we return to “the what” – the risk reversal of “or it’s free”.

The Domino’s Classic USP Template

You can see a template for crafting these positioning statements here in the Dominos example.

[what] [how] [where] [when] [what risk reversal]

It’s also very notable for what it doesn’t say.

What The Domino’s Classic USP Doesn’t Say

The pizza may be fresh and hot – but that doesn’t sound too demanding since there’s nothing about it being delicious of made from the highest quality ingredients.

The USP doesn’t include an indication of who, either in terms of who the customer is or who the supplier/staff are a bit different from the Spearmint Rhino offer since there are many people you just wouldn’t want a lap-dance from.]

Is it marketing hype or does it need to be designed into the culture of the organisation. I think it’s the second because everything needs to be done quickly to meet the big double whammy which made the offer so successful – it’s quick and it’s guaranteed.

The Irresistible Offer Also Looks At The Domino’s USP

If you want to go deeper into the logic of crafting statements like the Dominos USP then I recommend that you read an excellent book called The Irresistible Offer by Mark Joyner.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Unique Selling Point – Why Customers Should Buy From You?

Your unique selling point (also known as unique selling proposition and often shortened to USP) answers the big question:

Why should I buy from you rather than any of your competitors?

I was reading a book about branding and marketing earlier today which said that the USP is dead.

I don’t agree.

The idea of the USP is still very much alive and kicking and it should be an essential part of your business.

I’ve written before about the origins of the USP and Rosser Reeves and recently reviewed his book Reality In Advertising.

What I hadn’t realised until I checked the Google statistics was there is an English versus American language problem with the abbreviation USP. In the UK, USP is much more commonly known as the Unique Selling Point, in the United States it is the original Unique Selling Proposition.

Unique Selling Point & Marketing Slogans

There’s some overlap with marketing or advertising slogans and while slogans can emphasise the USP of the business, they are often meaningless platitudes.

I can’t stop myself from sniggering when I hear Lloyds TSB tell me that they are “for the journey.”

They’re my bank and I have no conscious loyalty to them whatsoever. It’s only customer inertia and the lack of a stronger offer which has retained my custom for the last 30 years.

What Is A Unique Selling Point?

Your Unique Selling Point is intended to be a short statement or idea which sums up why your business is special and different.

It summarises your key factors of difference and may also include more general key success factors. This is a slight change from the way Rosser Reeves explains Unique Selling Proposition which is based on taking one big idea away from a marketing message which is a benefit to customers, is unique and which is strong enough to sell.

Your unique selling point should be the solution to a problem or pain that the customer is experiencing.

The USP becomes the foundation stone for your marketing and indeed for your business.

It’s the few ideas, concepts, features and benefits that you want your target audience to associate with you when they hear your name or think about your products and services.

From the research I’ve done I’m the only business coach in the UK who specialises in helping small business clients to profit from differentiating their businesses. If somebody copies me, I’ll have to emphasise that I am the first and best!

I invite you to get a copy of my free report The Profit Tipping Point and the mp3 of the 7 Big Questions of Business Success which explain the main dimensions for differentiating your business. Some combination of these factors will form your Unique Selling Point which you can include in your promotions.

The Classic Unique Selling Point

The classic example of an extremely successful Unique Selling Point or positioning statement is Domino’s Pizza which was so powerful, a business started to pay university fees became a huge international business.

“Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less… or it’s free.”

It’s not used any more because of allegations of reckless driving to beat the time limit but it doesn’t reduce the marketing genius of the statement.

It’s the solution to the problem that you or your family are hungry and you’re too tired or too busy to cook.

Using Domino’s USP To Model Your Own Unique Selling Point

You can model this statement in various ways and use it as a USP formula to create your own Unique Selling Point.

A Unique Selling Point Formula From the 7 Big Questions

Using my 7 Big Questions approach,  the Unique Selling Point formula based on Domino’s is…

What [fresh, hot pizza] where [delivered to your door] when [in 30 minutes or less] what guarantee [or it’s free]

A Copywriter’s Version Of A USP Formula Using Features & Benefits

A copywriter might model it as a different formula…

Benefit [fresh], Benefit [hot] pizza Benefit [delivered to your door] Benefit [in 30 minutes or less] Guarantee [or it’s free].

Others may argue that it should be

Feature [fresh], Feature [hot] pizza Feature [delivered to your door] Feature [in 30 minutes or less] Guarantee [or it’s free].

Sometimes features are so clear that they don’t need to be translated into benefits e.g. hot is the feature, the benefit is that it’s ready to eat as soon as you get it because you don’t need to reheat it, saving you effort, energy and you can satisfy your hunger immediately.

The beauty of this Domino’s USP is that it is very specific. It doesn’t leave you in any doubt what you’re getting for your money. There is a clear customer return on investment.

Whichever way you choose to work, the Domino’s Unique Selling Point is an extremely powerful statement with a lot of credibility packed into a few words.

The Unique Selling Point Trap

You need to be careful when creating your USP.

You don’t want to fall into the trap of having a shallow marketing promise that you can’t deliver consistently and reliably. To really differentiate your business, you need to make sure that your business systems, processes and staff are aligned with the promise.

Other pizza companies could have imitated the Domino’s USP but if they didn’t have the systems designed for speed, they would have failed – and because of the guarantee, failure would have been very expensive.

Yes, competitors will copy eventually if they really want to but it takes a big, bold decision (which doesn’t offer any advantage since it’s only neutralising a disadvantage) and time to get all the internal resources lined up.

Rosser Reeves makes the point that while competitors can copy, it is much more difficult to take away ownership of the idea in people’s minds. If the Domino’s had the big idea of “pizza fast” then competitors advertising pizza in 30 minutes or even 25 minutes may in effect be advertising for Domino’s – ouch!

The Problem With Creating Your Own Unique Selling Point

The idea of the USP is to communicate what’s special, unique, different about your business to your customers and your target audience.

But often you can’t see these special factors yourself. You’re too immersed in your business.

There may be a big bold Unique Selling Point hidden away that you can use or you may need to work on the differentiation factors before you can find your winning USP.

The idea of the Unique Selling Point is very much alive and is the foundation of your marketing and business.

What Do You Think About The Unique Selling Point Concept?

Do you think it’s dead or do you agree with me, that the idea of clearly communicating your differentiation is more important than ever?

Let me know by leaving a comment.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

The USP (Unique Selling Proposition) And Rosser Reeves

I’m sure you’ve heard that your business needs a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) because the idea is banded around by most marketing consultants and coaches.

Unfortunately the meaning of USP tends to change depending on who you listen to although the point about differentiating your business and your offer from competitors is consistent.

The Origins Of The USP

Do you know where the term originally comes from?

It was developed by advertising agency Ted Bates & Company and promoted in a book…

Reality in Advertising,” by Rosser Reeves published on March 12th, 1961. (Read my review of Reality In Advertising)

That’s right the concept of a USP is now 50 years old.

The Rosser Reeves Rules For An Effective USP

He identified three rules for a USP:

  1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer.
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer.
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions.

Are The USP Ideas Still Applied?

It’s a good idea to look at a few advertisements and marketing pieces – newspaper, TV, direct mail and websites – and see whether they make an impact on you as a potential customer and whether they follow the rules.

Is there a proposition? Does the marketing say the equivalent of “if you give me your money and buy this product or service, then this is what you get back in terms of benefits?”

Tombstone Advertising Doesn’t Work Because It Ignores The USP Ideas

Often I think you’ll see or hear advertising which makes no offer or proposition. It’s just says – “this is our name and this is what we do.” Some marketers call this wasteful marketing which lacks an offer, “tombstone advertising”.

To avoid picking on anyone, I’d better use me as an example.

My tombstone advertisement would read

Paul Simister,

Business Coach,


So What?

Does the promise include something unique?

If you just promote generic benefits, the potential customer has no idea why he or she should buy from you rather than one of the ten of competitors. In fact, he may be so confused, he can’t make a choice and will either withdraw from making a buying decision or will pick one or two potential suppliers at random. See Yellow Pages Bingo.

Is the proposition strong enough to move the masses?

Either the proposition attracts, repels or leaves potential customers indifferent. It’s that last one that is the big problem – bland, boring promotional messages which leave the reader thinking “so what?” even when they have given their full attention to the offer.

Using Your USP Effectively

Your USP should become a constant theme in your promotions as it establishes a clear positioning in the minds of your prospective customers. All marketing messages get stronger through repetition and a short USP can stick in the memory so that when the need arises, your name is that one that springs to mind.

The Abuse Of the USP

The USP is an important concept but it’s also abused. I thought it was ironical that when I was reading Reality In Advertising, Rosser Reeves said that even back in 1961, the concept was not being applied well.

Your USP is “Why you should buy from me” which is put into your marketing but too often the USP is seen as a small part of marketing.

This is nonsense and leads to what I call shallow differentiation.

It’s something that looks good and sounds good but in the end probably means nothing.

What you need is deep differentiation.

And that’s the big idea of the business which drives everything in it and all the decisions.

Differentiation and the USP shouldn’t be something you bolt on after you’ve built the business, recruited the staff and designed all the systems and processes just because you’ve realised you need a nifty little phrase to use in your marketing.

Decide On Your Differentiate Strategy And Then Craft Your USP

Instead, if you do it properly, how you decide to differentiate your business should be the driving force for everything else. If you want fun to be an important part of your core business identity, then you should go out and recruit people who are funny, happy and smile a lot. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself having to keep telling your staff to smile, laugh and joke and it will feel forced.

Or if speed and short lead times are an important part of your differentiation and USP, then you design it into your systems and processes. It becomes a critical part of your choice of suppliers. The need to be quick consistently is the basis for the decisions you make.

Writing your USP isn’t a small part of your marketing which can be left to your marketing director or even your marketing agency or a copywriter. Not if it is going to be authentic.

Everything You Do Should Reinforce Your USP

It is your business and should be understood by your customers, your employees and your suppliers. Everything done in the business should reinforce your USP.

If not, you reduce the USP down to the level of a marketing trick designed to manipulate customers.

What Do You Think Of The USP Concept?

I’d like to know what you think.

Was Rosser Reeves right to emphasise the importance of the USP?

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Combat Zone by Dennis Lewis

The full title of this book by Dennis Lewis is

Combat Zone: The Value Based Proposition

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave it Three Stars.

Here is my review.

Interesting For Sales People In B2B Markets

This wasn’t the book I was expecting to read as I thought it was about strategic marketing style value propositions.

Instead this is a book about selling in B2B markets where products can be sold on the basis of financial justification e.g. a chemical company might sell a new type of fertiliser that increases wheat yields per acre by 25% over the next best alternative. Depending on what you’re selling, you can therefore explain your advantage based on costs savings, extra revenue generated, faster payback for a machine or a combination of all three. [continue reading…]

in Other Business Books

In my review of the book

Marketing: Unique Selling Points and Creating a Tagline

by Amy Foxwell posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave it Two Stars.

Here is my review.

Don’t buy – I did and asked for my money back – because it is far too short

This is far too small to be of much value to anyone interested in the subject. [continue reading…]

in Other Business Books

Reality In Advertising by Rosser Reeves – 5 Stars

Reality In Advertising by Rosser Reeves

This is considered to be a classic market text as it introduced or at least popularised the concept of unique selling propositions.

Does it stand the test of time?

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I rated the book at the Five Stars level. This means I think it is Excellent.

Here is my book review.

A marketing classic and a delight to read

This is the famous book credited with popularising the concept of the Unique Selling Proposition. It was first published in 1961. Can a book that is fifty years old have anything to teach us about advertising and marketing?

You bet it does. It starts with perhaps the most powerful statement I’ve read in a business book.”It cost $1,000,000,000 to write this book. We spent that much of our clients’ money and made many mistakes to isolate these principles.” One billion dollars – in 1961! Who knows how much that would be in today’s money. [continue reading…]

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning, Best Business Books

The full title of the book by Mike Swedenberg is

Copywriting and the Unique Selling Proposition: Take Your Advertising To The Next Level

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave it 3 Stars.

Here is my review.

The emphasis is on copywriting

I bought this book because of its prominent use of the USP concept in its title. I should have realised that its focus is more on copywriting.

Whilst there are better general books on copywriting, this is worth reading if you write copy although the format as a kindle e-book isn’t as good as it should be. It’s less relevant if you want to know how to differentiate your business and there are better books that help you to look at the process.


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in Other Business Books

Defining a Dynamic USP by Andrea Callahan

The full title of this book by Andrea Callahan is

Defining a Dynamic USP: Crafting a Compelling Message to Attract Your Ideal Client

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave it Three Stars. This means Worthwhile.

Here is my review.

Short but a nice process

This is a short guide to help you to think about how you can differentiate your business from your competitors through a short statement called a unique selling proposition or USP.

The author rightly encourages you to think about your potential customers and what they need, your competitors and what they offer and your product or service. Once you’ve done this analysis work, you can identify the best positioning for your business so that it is distinctly different from your competitors. [continue reading…]

in Other Business Books

The full title of this book by Jennifer S Cosculluela is

Find Your Own Unique Selling Proposition: Getting Ahead With USP

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave the book Two Stars.

Here is my review.

Disappointing presentation and content

My first impressions weren’t good. I hadn’t expected this to be so small, it’s little more than a pamphlet. To add insult to injury, the contents are in a very small, sans serif font which makes it quite difficult to read, despite the double spacing between lines. [continue reading…]

in Other Business Books