Your USP and convincing customers to switch brands

The unique selling proposition (USP) is a marketing concept that states successful advertising campaigns make unique propositions to customers that convinces them to switch brands. It is simply what makes your business unique and valuable to your customers. The term was developed by television advertising pioneer Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company.

In the book ‘Reality in Advertising’, Reeves states that USP is made up of three parts:

  • Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer – not just words, product puffery, or show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: ‘Buy this product, for this specific benefit’.
  • The proposition must be one the competition cannot or does not offer. It must be unique – either in the brand or in a claim the rest of the competition does not make.
  • The proposition must be strong enough to move the masses, i.e. attract new customers.

Unique propositions that were pioneers when introduced include Domino’s Pizza: ‘You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less – or it’s free’, FedEx: ‘When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight’ and M&M’s: ‘Melts in your mouth, not in your hand’.

The steps involved in making a USP are:

  • Define your target market.
  • Explain the problem you solve.
  • List the biggest distinctive benefits.
  • Define your promise.
  • Combine and rework.
  • Cut it down and shorten it.

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