All marketers can learn from the dedication, preparation and planning of Olympic athletes. This series of posts will put that into perspective when preparing your own marketing plan.
Here are the posts in this 5-part series:
- Part 1 – Competitive Analysis: remove obstacles like a judo champion
- Part 2- Targeting Markets: zeroing in on your customer like an olympic archer
- Part 3 – Unique Selling Propositions: what artistic gymnastics teach you about execution
- Part 4 – Goals, Metrics and Timelines: the triathlon of marketing measurement
- Part 5- Tactics: sink or swim by using the right Olympic strokes
Today, we talk about crafting a Unique Selling Proposition that will dazzle your customers like an Olympic gymnast.
People are nuts about Olympic gymnastics. An entire episode of Seinfeld even centered around Jerry dating a former Romanian Olympic gymnast and the amazing things she used to do on a balance beam. The routines these champions put together are one-of-a-kind routines pulling together the best of their bag of tricks.
Unique Selling Propositions: Making it Look As Easy As The Olympic Balance Beam
When defining what makes your product and organization a winner precision and creativity make the difference between a statement that matters and one that falls flat on the mat. The unique selling proposition (“USP”) started as a mechanism for understanding successful advertising in the 1940’s. Today it helps marketers to differentiate their products and company from the competition. It guides the internal efforts of the marketer and can even help to perfect marketing copy as it gives you a clear understanding of what unique benefits your product gives to the customer.
The USP is something the marketer uses to make what they do look effortless. Much like the gymnasts who “need incredible strength, control and balance, combined with speed” the marketer with a clear USP that knows how to integrate it into daring and ambitious campaigns will translate into a message that dazzles your customer. From the official Olympics 2012 website, “Judged against such exacting criteria, the smallest extra step, wobble, misalignment or mistake in a routine can make all the difference. Gymnasts must not lose concentration for a moment.” Marketers who stick to emphasizing the benefits discovered through their USP, who stay the course and keep a focused message will win top scores from their target market.
Steps to Crafting a Unique Selling Proposition That Works
Step 1: List Benefits – To get started in crafting your own USP, start out by listing the three biggest benefits to your customer in buying your product. Focus on benefits, not features. A benefit tells the customer “what’s in it for me” i.e. the problem your product solves for the customer, while a feature is how your product delivers that.
Step 2: List Differentiators – list the three biggest things that set you apart from your competition. These are the things that make your business unique. Look for benefits you confer that others are either not doing well enough or not at all.
Step 3: List “Pain Points” and “Performance Gaps” – pain points are the customers’ unfulfilled needs. Performance gaps are the areas where the current market does not fulfill those needs. These are opportunities for your business to swoop in, stick the landing, and go home a champion.
Step 4: Focus on the Unique Points – you should have list of beneficial attributes about your product and company. Hone in on the ones that fill the performance gaps, the places where no one else is hitting the customers’ need. Try to get this down to 3 to 5 options at most. Then open up a new Power Point deck and create a slide for each statement – try to find a visual that expresses the idea as well as adding sparse words to the slide (and please follow my rules for not sucking at Power Point).
Step 5: Talk it Out With Customers – try to schedule 5 to 10 interviews with customers to talk about the USP you are developing. The idea is not to bore them with the mechanisms behind USPs, rather you want to see their reaction to each of the USPs you are developing. Engage them in a real conversation and use their feedback to further hone your USP.
Step 6: Integrate Your New USP – at this point you should be able to articulate your USP. Use it to drive the rest of your marketing strategy and to make sure that you stay within the core message of what you are doing whenever you try new things. Also, as the business evolves, always review the USP to make sure it is still relevant to what you are doing and what your customers want.
Focus on What You Can Do for Your Customer
Remember, unique selling propositions are all about focusing on what you can do for your customer. When crafting yours and thinking about how to integrate it into marketing copy and campaigns always try to think about what the customer needs to know to make the best decision. Marketing that does this is engaging, simple and effective. Make the buying decision process simple for your customer with a clear articulation of how this product will make their lives better. Do this and you will stick that landing to the sale like an Olympic gymnast.