I still remember one of the first iPod commercials I ever saw.
It was during one of my favourite television shows, and there was this almost cartoon-like commercial of people dancing to a really cool song I had never heard before (“Hey Mama” by the Black Eyed Peas.) It had different colours for each person dancing, each with the ubiquitous white head phones and cord, which told me that it was an iPod commercial. My head bopped along to the song, and instead of changing the channel, I stayed and listened.
And after seeing this ad a number of times, I finally decided to buy myself one. This was 2005 or so, already 5 years in to the iPod revolution, yet I never thought of purchasing an iPod until this ad came along. Now why was that?
Was I just worn down by the constant barrage of ads, or was I simply sucked in by that catchy Black Eyed Peas song? Probably a bit of both, I admit.
What was my tipping point?
And it was simply that iTunes was now available for the Windows operating system. I had always been an admirer of Apple, but hadn’t made the jump to their products and was still a Windows user. That meant that the iPod had been off-limits to me until that point. Until the words “Now Mac + PC” flashed across the screen at the end of the ad.
Steve Jobs had figured out what the unique selling proposition (or USP for short) was for this version of the iPod:
iTunes now worked with PCs.
Short and simple, and yet it packed a powerful punch.
What is a USP?
The USP is the central idea you should use to build your marketing materials, whether you’re selling to consumers (B2C) or to other businesses (B2B). Powerful USPs compel clients to get in touch with you right away, or purchase something (like an iPod.)
The “marketing” definition of USP is this: It’s the explanation for why the product or service you’re selling is different and superior to all other similar products. It should highlight unique benefits and advantages of the product or services in a compelling way that engages your prospect.
For me, it’s my Geekiness. I love Geeks, I am a Geek, and I speak Geek.
How do you create your USP?
Focus on these three questions to create yours:
- Why would someone buy your product? What benefits does your product offer your potential clients? (Remember, a benefit is the “what it does”, rather than the “what it is” notion.)
- What makes your product unique in your clients’ eyes? Does it solve a problem they have?
- Can you say it in a short and concise statement? Think of it as an escalator pitch, rather than an elevator one. You’ve got a short length of time to tell them why they need you.
Where can I use my USP?
Once created, your USP can be used everywhere: newsletter articles, postcards, websites, well, you get the idea.
Rework it into different variations that will fit those marketing materials that work best for you. Clients remember you as “the company that…[solves my problem]”, and they then respond by requesting more information from you, or making a purchase.
Think back to that iPod ad from Apple.
They knew that the majority of the computer market is PC-based, which meant the “problem” was that the large PC-based clients couldn’t use iTunes because it only worked with Apple computers. But now their new version worked with PCs, so that “Now Mac + PC” USP could open the door to the PC market, and sales increased dramatically.
But don’t forget to deliver.
You can capture your clients’ attention with a bold USP, and compel them to contact you, but you’ve got to make sure to deliver on those promises, and deliver consistently.
A powerful USP can drive your business to success, so build it to optimize your marketing materials and let it do the work for you.