We live in an age where consumers are completely spoilt for choice.

Not only do they have the businesses in their own geographical region to choose from, they now have products and services from throughout the whole world at their fingertips.

So, how does a small business manage to convince their target audience to buy from them?

Well, there will be a few factors that you will need to look at to encourage people to buy from you. One of the most important things you must address first and foremost is to demonstrate what makes your business different.

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” – Coco Chanel.

This is what we marketers call establishing your unique selling point (USP).

Your USP is the position that your brand holds in the market place through the eyes of the consumer. It is a distinct idea that sets you apart from your competitors. And it’s the statement that when demonstrated in your marketing messages, can convince your target audience to buy from you.

So, what are the characteristics of a great USP?

1. It’s clear and remarkable.

Your USP is not the place for weak, unsubstantiated, broad statements, that don’t mean much to anyone.

Bad USP examples such as; ‘our prices are affordable’, ‘we provide great customer service’ or ‘we value our customers’ are not remarkable at all.

A good example of a really clear and remarkable USP in one that Avis used:

“We’re number two. We try harder.”

This is a brave USP. They totally owned being number two in the market and made it a benefit in the eyes of the consumer. Their promise to not to rest on their laurels and not be complacent made them appealing as they positioned themselves as the hard-working underdog.

This campaign was so successful it took Avis’s market share from 11% to 34% in just four years.


2. It’s something that your competitors can’t copy.

When you choose something too big and generic to differentiate your business from your competitors, you make it really easy for them to copy you. This takes you back to square one.


3. It has nothing to do with price, but everything to do with value.

Differentiating on price is dangerous and doesn’t really set you up for great price elasticity in the long term. It is far more effective to demonstrate your value with your USP.

Price is important, however positioning a product or service as value for money educates your target audience that what they are getting from you is benefits. Benefits that they’ll be happy to pay for if they mean enough to them.

The FedEx USP (that they actually no longer use), was a good example of this:

“When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

This promise has so much value in it for their target audience. Assurance that a package will get there and that it will get there overnight is a highly valuable proposition and one that the right target audience would be very happy to pay for.

Defining what makes you different will require some digging into a) what it is about your business that actually makes you different and b) understanding what is important to your target audience.

If you can marry these two together and develop a clear and remarkable USP that can’t be easily copied and demonstrates value as opposed to price, you are on the way to marketing success.


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