In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.

Coco Chanel

In our Ultimate Marketing Plan Template series, we take an in-depth look at the different elements you need to include in a marketing plan.

Together, each article will help you understand the research and information you need to gather so that you can create an outstanding marketing plan.

Think of your marketing plan as a map outlining the journey your business will take as it seeks to sell and promote its products and services. It defines the:

  • Terrain – e.g., who your customers are, where they are and what they want
  • Route – e.g., where you will sell and promote the product)
  • Vehicle – e.g., your choice of content, how you will speak to your customers).

It helps you, your staff, and your investors understand your goals and exactly how you are going to reach them.

In Part 2, we looked at the Target Audience. In Part 3, we will teach you about your USP (Unique Selling Point, sometimes known as the Unique Selling Proposition).

Unique Selling Point (USP)

Your USP is the thing that sets your product or service apart from the competition – it’s the reason why your customers will choose your products and services over those of your competitors.

A strong USP is vital because it sets you apart from your competitors. The most successful brands have the strongest USPs.

Creating a good USP will help you understand how to craft your content effectively so that it appeals to your target market. The USP theme should run throughout your marketing products.

The bottom line is that a strong USP will boost your revenue.

Your USP should be something about your product or brand that your competitors CANNOT imitate.

You can differentiate your brand in many different ways.

Your USP could be an unusual feature of your product

Meridian Peanut Butter only has one ingredient, peanuts. That’s it. No palm oil, no salt, no added sugar. That’s a great hook for both the health-conscious and the environmentally-friendly consumer.

Your USP could be an emotion elicited from your customers

Through their content marketing, BMW emphasises exclusivity and elicit feelings in the customer that makes them feel special.

Look at the words they use in their latest advert:

  • True Masterpiece
  • Pioneering Souls
  • A Class Above

They all convey a feeling of being special and out of the ordinary.

How to Create a Strong USP

Finding your USP isn’t easy. It requires research and a solid understanding of all aspects of your business.

Understanding the following will help you to really get to grips with your business and to understand exactly what sets you apart.

Know your target audience

Your USP is the thing that will appeal to your customers and make them buy into your brand. If you don’t know who your customers are, how can you possibly know how to create content that appeals to them?

Read Part 2 of our Marketing Plan Template to understand how to define your target audience.

Once you’ve established your USP, test your content to see how well it’s received. It could need tweaking, wording differently, or require a slightly different angle.

Monitoring and measuring your content should be an ongoing task. It will help you perfect your USP and understand exactly what your customers want from you.

Know Your Competitors

If you don’t have a good understanding of your competitors, you won’t be able to find that wrinkle that sets you apart.

You must research your competitors thoroughly. Establish:

  1. What their USP is
  2. What their product/service is: how is it made? Is it efficient? How is yours better?
  3. Who their customers are
  4. What their customers think: check out online review sites, forums, social media pages, etc., and look for common themes of complaint and disappointment. Do you solve a problem for their customers? Can you produce a product or service that addresses these problems?

You’re looking for those chinks in the armour that your product plugs.

Brainstorm Problems Your Product Solves

Your USP is a combination of the problems your product solves for your customers and your competitors’ failure to address these problems.

This is the sweet spot – it’s how you solve a problem that nobody else does.

Take some time to brainstorm all the ways that your product solves a problem.

For example, imagine you’re launching a new dice game. What is it about this game that other games don’t have?

Here are some questions you could ask (modify these questions to your product/service):

  • Is the game more strategic than usual?
  • Is there something unusual about the dice? Perhaps they have unusual faces or more sides than is typical? Maybe they work in conjunction with other dice?
  • Is the game easy to play? Can the game flex to different abilities, so you can play it as easily with a beginner as you can with an expert?
  • Are there expansion packs? Is there an entire fantasy world around the dice.

You know your product. You need to think deeply about its appeal to your audience.

Always keep this question in mind: “How is my customer benefiting from the product?”

It’s only once you have this information that you can create content that works. And the best thing about doing all this research is that it gives you content ideas – many, many ideas.

What Does Your Product/Service Redefine?

Some of you will have products or services that represent a shift in paradigm from pre-existing, but similar products.

For example, when Apple launched its AirPods, they were redefining the headphone experience. Their USP was ‘wireless headphones’ and it was relatively revolutionary.

Perhaps they weren’t the first to invent this style of headphones, but they excelled in marketing this feature. Of course, Apple’s marketing skills are world-class and widely considered one of the best-marketed brands in the world.

Create a List of Potential USPs

Once you’ve carried out the above research, you should have discovered several potential USPs.

Write each one down and then evaluate them to see how well they fit the following concerns:

  1. Is this USP genuinely unique? If not, can you modify it to create a better angle?
  2. Compare them to your brand voice – does the USP reflect your brand’s personality?
  3. Is this USP something that will appeal to your target customer?

Once you have this information, you can then manipulate it until you have a single sentence that represents the USP in a clear manner that is consistent with your brand.

What Next?

Now that you have your USP, you can use it to generate content ideas and marketing materials. How can you use the USP throughout the brand, e.g. for taglines, web design, blog content, packaging, etc?

Summary

Your USP is what separates you from your competitors and makes your brand attractive to potential customers in a way no other brand can match. Finding your USP requires time and research, but the pay off is more than worth it. Once you have your USP, it will make it easier to create content that appeals to your target audience.

Differentiating your product in a meaningful way is the key to success.