What does USP mean in marketing

Unique Selling Proposition (USP): definition and examples

Definition of USP

The English term Unique Selling Proposition (USP abbreviation) can be translated into German as "Unique Selling Proposition", but the term "Unique Selling Proposition" is more common. In marketing, this is understood to be the highlighting of the characteristic with which one's own offer stands out from those of the competition. The USP therefore plays an important role in positioning because it should convince consumers to buy their own offer.

How to find your USP

Many entrepreneurs start the adventure of advertising and public image without having answered the question of how they actually want to convince the customer of their offer. This is vital at a time when markets are saturated. Because the customer usually has the choice between diverse, more or less interchangeable products.

Therefore, it should be clear to you beforehand: How do I position myself? What sets us apart from the competition and how can I show that? This is where the USP, i.e. your unique selling proposition, comes into play.

With your personal USP you answer all the questions I asked at the beginning: you formulate your unique selling proposition, you present exactly that one detail that sets you apart from the competition. This unique selling point should consistently correspond to your general positioning, i.e. your corporate strategy.

Is / has your offer:

  • very cheap? (Cost leadership)
  • a particularly good price / performance ratio?
  • a particularly high quality?

Strong brand instead of USP?

Of course, it is also possible to outdo the competition with a strong brand without offering the customer any greater benefit than competitors. A suitable example here is cigarette brands that actually all offer the same thing. Even so, there are brands that are more popular than others.

Generating a competitive advantage simply through a strong brand is in most cases rather unrealistic for smaller companies because it requires a level of awareness that SMEs simply do not have. This is precisely why your USP is so important in marketing. Because if you don't have a unique selling proposition or if you don't present it properly, there is no reason for customers to prefer your company to others.

Build up marketing around the USP

In order to stay ahead of the competition, you not only have to satisfy the customer, but also inspire them with your performance. - Philip Kotler

The USP also offers you a solid basis for all your marketing campaigns - why? Well, simply because you can base any of your own or product applications around your unique selling proposition - I'll go into that again in a moment. It can also make sense to use the unique selling proposition as the core of your external image and, for example, to use it in your company slogan. An example here would be a butcher whose slogan is: “More regional - more quality” and thus in the foreground

shows that it has the advantage over supermarkets that its meat is not transported through half the republic, but is delivered fresh from farmers in the surrounding area.

Of course, it is extremely important at this point that your Unique Selling Proposition is credible and that you can keep the benefits you are presenting. There is absolutely no point in promoting a unique selling proposition that you cannot offer at all. The butcher from above would certainly not advertise with his business model (high quality, regional meat) with the slogan “The cheapest and best meat in town” because, understandably, he cannot keep this promise. In this way, the USP also becomes a means of addressing target groups in marketing because it already limits the target group. The butcher, for example, with his slogan for regional and high-quality meat does not even address the group of people who only look at the price when buying meat, but rather the target group of conscious meat eaters.

Unique advertising proposition

The Unique Advertising Proposition (UAP) is based on the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) from above. In a nutshell, the UAP is a unique selling proposition within your advertising. So it is again a question of how you distinguish yourself from the competition - in this case in the context of advertising.

Presentation of the USP in marketing

The example of the butcher from above, who communicates his USP in marketing within his slogan (“more regionality - more quality”) to his customers, is already a form of the unique advertising proposition. The main thing here is to communicate your own unique selling proposition consistently and repeatedly in your advertising. The butcher already achieves this with his slogan “More regionality - more quality” and would use this slogan in any form of external presentation, whether on flyers or on the display in front of his shop. A “real” example from the real world gives us Duplo from Ferrero: The company has been communicating for years in text and visual language that Duplo is not a chocolate bar, but “probably the longest praline in the world”. This is how Duplo differentiates itself consistently and successfully from the competition.

Exceptional advertising message

On the one hand Duplo presents its USP, on the other hand the slogan “Probably the longest praline in the world” serves as a unique and unmistakable advertising message. I am sure that you would have been able to assign this slogan to the brand if I hadn't mentioned the brand name Duplo at all. Or what about “3 ... 2 ... 1 ... mine” or “Yes we can”? You will already notice: Individual advertising messages can be so concise that you can recognize the origin of the message without further help - regardless of whether it is a brand like ebay or Barack Obama himself.

If you are in the process of developing a unique advertising message, consider using it for the long term. The perceived connection between an advertising message and the name of a company takes time - a constant change of the advertising message is therefore not very effective. Instead, focus on a message that suits you and that you can leverage over the long term.

Ultimately, you can present your unique selling proposition to your customers with UAP and USP in marketing and also distinguish yourself from the competition through your external image. It is extremely important for both of them that they also fit your company. On the one hand, the promised, unique component of the offer (USP) should really exist, on the other hand, you have to associate a unique advertising message with your company.

Overall, the Unique Selling Proposition and Unique Advertising Proposition are an integral part of your company's product and communication policy. You can also find out how to do both here on our blog.

Would you like to read more on the subject? So far, the following articles have appeared in the "Small Business Marketing" series. As a supplement, I would also like to recommend our series on "Online Marketing for SMEs" to you!

  1. Small Business Marketing - An Introduction

  2. Who am I and if so, why? The basics of marketing

  3. Marketing definition

  4. Marketing mix

  5. Define marketing goals

  6. Unique selling proposition

  7. Define target group - this is how it works

  8. The storytelling method in marketing

  9. Dialog marketing for SMEs - individual and personal

  10. How do I find the right name for my company?

  11. How do I design the search for the right domain?

  12. Why a simple homepage is better than none

  13. Seven simple basics for creating your website

  14. Logo design part I - compressed marketing

  15. Logo design part II - what do I have to consider?

  16. Logo Design Part III - Ask a designer or do it yourself?

  17. Logo design part IV - what do I have to observe legally?

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