Marketing does like its jargon. I suppose most industries do, but I’m not really big on nuclear physics so I can’t comment on their jargon.
Some language crosses out of industries and into more everyday language. Now, if you’re in the US, then USP might well stand for US Pharmacopeia, as you see it regularly on medicine bottles. But if you’ve had kind of business or marketing training then you’ll probably know it as meaning unique selling proposition.
But does anyone really have a unique selling proposition these days?
What if it’s not about selling?
Maybe when the phrase was invented in the 1940s, then you could have something unique. New things were being invented all the time, like unicorns popping up all over the place.
We get a bit blasé about new stuff, but most new stuff is new versions of the old stuff. Maybe a few new knobs and whistles. Possibly a new colour. Perhaps a lower price.
Are any of those truly unique?
Apple versus Microsoft
I almost didn’t use this example, as it’s so common in newer marketing textbooks. You could also talk about Innocent versus Tropicana, or Nike versus Adidas.
At the surface level, they have no unique selling proposition. What they make or do is essentially the same.
The difference is in the “S”. And it’s all about the story.
What’s your unique story proposition?
Think about it, the power of story is what really drives the distinction betwween those brands. The story drives their tribe to them, not to mention keeps them coming back.
When you think about it, your story is always going to be unique. It is highly unlikely that anyone else has exactly the same reason for starting their business, even if you created similar products. Your story will set you apart.
Have you got your story?
If you ever wonder if it’s worth developing the story of your business, then ask yourself, do you want to be Apple or Microsoft? Can you tell the story of Microsoft?
If not, then start working on that USP. Not sure how? Maybe some bedtime reading would help. I really would try “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. It tells the stories of the greats, from Apple to Martin Luther King and more. It’ll inspire you to be unique, and to tell great stories.
So, what’s your USP?