It really is challenging to come up with a unique idea, product or service when launching your business, how are you going to be unique enough to stand out from everyone else?
The unique selling proposition, also called the unique selling point is what makes you or your product / service different. You do need to think about this at the very beginning otherwise you’ll just be another business selling the same product / service as everyone else, and nobody wants that!
Your USP is your strength
To start your business, you will need an outline business plan, it doesn’t need to be war and peace and it won’t be set in stone as things inevitably change, see the 2020 pandemic. If you’re not looking to secure funding, then this is just an internal document for yourself to map out the key points of your business and where you’re heading. It’s a roadmap that sets out your route for the development of your business.
A good starting point is to do a SWOT analysis; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, your USP sits under your strengths.
If you are at the very start of your business journey in The Netherlands as a non-Dutch speaker, we’ve included a SWOT template in our online course ‘Tips & tricks for starting your business in The Netherlands’, click here for further information.
What is a USP
Your USP is one or possibly two benefits of your product or service that makes it distinctive from its competitors. This is the value that will entice a buyer to purchase your product or service over other ones. You may in fact be more expensive than others on the market, but this could be due to many factors including personalisation, customer service, quality, etc. you just need to make that clear so the customer knows what they’re getting.
Your unique selling point should be grand, bold and exaggerated. Describe your product or service in its best possible light, this isn’t the time to be shy, it should communicate your enthusiasm and belief in the product.
Think about going on the Dragons’ Den TV programme, where budding entrepreneurs get three minutes to pitch their business ideas to five business leaders and impressing the dragons with your knowledge, skills, experience, etc. These should be all true claims of course, this is your elevator pitch with your customer always at the front of your mind.
How to analyse your USP:
1) What are your values
This is the why, the reason for setting up your business in your chosen market. There must have been a burning reason why you started, is there something lacking in the market, of not good enough quality, or could be done, better, cheaper, faster? Once you’re clear on your ‘why’, this will underpin everything you do, it is the aims and objectives of why your brand and service is needed, the pain point of your customer that you will resolve.
2) What are your customers values
As soon as you’ve got a repeat, loyal customer, find out why they’re coming back, what is the pull for them, this is such vital information to find out. Once you’ve found out this nugget of information maximise it.
3) Feedback is a gift
You’ve heard the term ‘feedback is a gift’, even if you know there’s been an issue or a problem, maybe something happened that was out of your control. A complaint can turn into a positive if you deal with it head on and take ownership. So don’t shy away from asking for feedback, be upfront about this at the beginning so that there’s no surprises and be open with your client when you’re doing something new for the first time, there’s no shame in that.
People usually like to share their opinions, and this will be invaluable to develop your product or service offering to ensure it’s hitting the mark and fit for purpose. Customers will feel listened to and special if you tailor something especially for them, a service they may not get from other larger companies that just want to provide a ‘one size fits all’ product.
Ask about the service they received from you, pre, during and post and provide free type boxes so customers can freely share their options, there isn’t anything more powerful than social proof.
4) What are your competitors doing?
Look at both direct and indirect competitors, how do they compare to your offering? What are they doing well and not so well? This will help you focus on what makes you different from them and to capitalize on it. This is your opportunity to stay ahead of the competition.
Now you have a USP you can demonstrate your value
Now you will have a clear view, you can quantify the benefits: ‘If you buy our product, you will enjoy this benefit….’
Your USP is your unique advantage over your competitors, now that you have it, you just need to articulate the message to your customers.