Been Told You Need A USP?
Nearly every marketer believes in the Unique Selling Proposition. The USP was first proposed six decades ago by Rosser Reeves, then Chairman of Ted Bates Advertising.
Reeves said that every ad:
1) must offer a product that people want to buy,
2) that the an ad for this product must propose “buy our product and get this specific benefit,” and
3) that the benefit must be one that no competitor can (or will) offer.
Business schools have taught the validity of the USP because business schools turn out graduates to be hired by major US corporations who manufacture goods to be distributed across the whole country. It’s entirely possible to design such products so as to give the manufacturer a competitive advantage.
But The USP Simply Can’t Work for Local Businesses
There is nothing unique about any accounting practice, or HVAC contractor, or for that matter, convenience store. Every accountant prepares the same P&L statements and tax returns. Every HVAC contractor replaces coolant and compressors. Every convenience store sells Coca Cola and Marlboro. That’s the main reason they all tend to look and sound like each other.
Without differentiation, shoppers will assume all providers of the goods or services in question are interchangable, and will (rightly) shop for the lowest price.
Only one competitor can offer the lowest price.
There’s No Advantage In Being Second Lowest
As second lowest priced competitor, you’ve cut profitability dangerously low, but don’t gain any market share. So, differentiation is important, but in terms of business offerings, its pretty much impossible.
Congratulations! You’ve just discovered the slowest possible path to bankruptcy.
Every small business owner has created a company which honors his core values by standardizing his procedures for dealing with customers.
The Owner’s Core VALUES Are Unique!
If we focus on values differences, his or her company is (for the first and only time) truly unique.
We can build ad campaigns around those differences, and people will pay attention. When a business has the courage to say, “This is what we stand for,” a significant number of customers will say, “Hey, that’s what I stand for, too. I’m going to shop with them.”
That’s the premise of The Personality Prescription. It’s the most important marketing book I’ve ever written. I think it could be the most important small business book this decade.
I’m in the process of putting those thoughts to page right now, and will be sharing with you after the holidays in early 2022.