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Date: 10 March 2016 | Time: 16:05

WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS UNIQUE: A GUIDE TO DETERMINING YOUR USP

When determining what your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is, you need to determine what sets you apart from the competition.

In order to understand the strengths of your business, you should analyse what else is out there in the marketplace and where you position yourself in relation to them. Every market has competitors, be they direct or non-direct, so in order to comprehensively assess what makes you stand out from the crowd, you can carry out a competitive analysis of your strengths against these competitors.

Four key steps to finding your USP are:

1. Evaluate your company’s greatest strengths – This is where your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis comes into play. Find your strengths and also look at what differentiates your product or service’s best qualities from the rest of the market. Is it your excellent after-sales support? Your superior analytical skills? The quality or value of your product? The speed at which you deliver? Try to quantify the differences as much as possible.

2. Which benefits are most important to your target market? – Think about what your customers (and potential customers) value most highly. Do some market research – talk to your customers. You can also read trade journals, the internet and relevant sector newsletters for trends about your target market or niche.

3. Now compare your answers from last two points – Highlight the matches. When details from both lists match, you can start to build up your USP around these factors. If you haven’t got any matches at the moment, dig deeper until you find some, it isn’t always easy but if you think long and hard you will find some. If not perhaps you need to work on refining your offering so that it is more in tune with your market, or perhaps you need to consider which market you’re operating in and whether you need to think about moving into different markets or differentiating your offering.

4. Use your top match or matches to position yourself in the market – Summarise the results from step 3 into one sentence that describes what it is about your company that makes you unique and what your niche is. If you’re having problems finding a good USP, here are some questions to ask yourself during step 1 and 2:

  • What exactly is it that your company does?
  • What services and/or products do you provide?
  • To whom do you provide these services/products; who are your customers?
  • What makes you better than other companies?
  • Why do you do that better; how and how much?
  • What needs do you fill for your customers?

A helpful exercise to complement your research into finding your USP is to carry out a communications audit. Interview your customers, suppliers and staff to find out information from different perspectives. This is a vital step towards better channeling your marketing tools.

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