Three ways to test the strength of your USP

Contributor - Shweta Jhajharia

Date: 28 November 2017

Three ways to test the strength of your USPThe success of your business depends on how well you stand out in your particular crowd. That means pinpointing and developing your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your USP is what makes you the go-to supplier in your area. If you're not the go-to people, your USP probably needs some work.

Many business leaders find it hard enough identifying their USP, never mind working out how it could be improved. Here are three tests that can help with the process:

Test one: Does your consumer want your product or service?

Before you roll your eyes, let me remind you about the fate of some products that fell by the wayside:

Microsoft Zune - people in the market for an iPod, bought an iPod;

Cosmopolitan Yogurt - readers stuck to reading;

Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water - it turned out that beer drinkers were happy with their beer.

If people don't want your product or service or they aren't prepared to pay for it, you'll have to find something else to build your business on. However, there can be another reason consumers aren't coming to you - they think you do something else.

Let's take two companies: Gerry's Green Fingers is a garden services provider, offering garden maintenance, tree surgery, turf laying and landscape design; Garry's Green Visions provides landscape design.

Anyone in the market for landscape design may not realise that Gerry provides the service they're looking for because they think of him as a gardener. But even if a potential customer is aware that Gerry's services include landscape design, that customer may choose Garry because they feel he is a specialist. As far as attracting landscape design business, Garry has the advantage because he makes it very clear what his company is about; he has a strong, well-defined USP.

Test two: Does a competitor do it better?

If your customers' needs are better served by someone else, you have a problem. But the good news is that you know your successful rival has a USP that works. Study it.

Why are you being beaten? Look at price, but remember that price isn't always the main reason people buy. Look at product characteristics, at placement strategy (i.e. location and distribution) and at promotional strategy. What does your competitor offer that you don't that appeals to customers?

When you understand their USP, both its strengths and weaknesses, you'll be able to choose a different USP that trumps theirs, or you can set about working hard at claiming their USP for your own.

Test three: Are your competitors doing it just as well as you are?

You may find that you and your main competitor are performing equally well. This isn't a bad position to be in, but it's not especially safe.

If you find yourself in this situation, you need to find out what the differences are between you and your rival; this involves researching why customers are making their purchasing choices. If it turns out that there is nothing practical that you can improve on - such as service or price - then you might want to tweak your USP to give customers an emotional reason to choose you over your rivals.

Study your rivals' advertising and marketing. Also research your customers; by getting to know them, you'll be able to pinpoint what might sway their purchasing decisions. This may involve a comprehensive image change, or it could be as simple as supporting a local charity.

Does your USP pass these three tests? Or is a USP upgrade called for? If after applying these tests, you're doing what you do better than your rivals, congratulations, your USP is sound.

But don't rest on your laurels. A competitor may be reading this and setting their sights on your USP. Slip on your customers' shoes, think about what motivates their buying behaviour and look at your business and your rivals with the same critical eye. Why are you beating the competition? What do you offer that your competitors don't? Know your weaknesses and vulnerabilities, keep a close eye on your competition and be ready to see off any challenges to your valuable go-to status.

Sponsored post. Copyright © 2017 Shweta Jhajharia is principal coach and founder of The London Coaching Group.

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Shweta Jhajharia

From a solid foundation as Unilever's Global Marketing Manager, Shweta has a proven track record with clients achieving an average of 48% profit growth. She is one of the world's most accomplished coaches - she has won 'London Coach of the Year' every year since 2009, has been recognised by the B...