In his 1960 book, Reality in Advertising, Rosser Reeves, a respected US advertising executive, introduced the world to the concept of the Unique Selling Proposition, USP for short.
Reeves defined USP in an advertising context:
- Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer: buy this product and you will get this benefit.
- The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot or does not offer.
- The proposition must be so strong that it changes consumer behaviour.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the concept of a unique selling proposition evolved from being essential to advertising to being essential in business. Finding your business USP was considered mission critical to businesses, retailers especially. Businesses drifted however and forgot about the importance of a USP.
Jack Trout told us just a few years ago that it was as relevant today. In 2000, he said that a Unique Selling Proposition was mission critical in business in his aptly titled book Differentiate or Die.
Differentiate of Die. There is no doubt about the call to action in the title, no doubt about the consequences of inaction.
Yet many retailers, for the most part, have remained still in the face of an onslaught of competition.
Retail is tough today. We don’t need to tell you that. The differences between competitors fewer and the burdens between types of businesses are more vague than ever. Yet many small business retailers have not responded to these challenges.
Smart retailers have a Unique Selling Proposition, they leverage this to their commercial advantage.
Differentiation could be service, products or location or a combination of these. Differentiation will not be price as anyone can match price easily. Price is, after all, the last line of defence in any business battle.
To develop your USP, engage with your employees and other stakeholders. Take your time. Determine what you and your business stand for. Following open and honest discussion and debate, the USP around which everyone in the business can willingly congregate will emerge.
A good USP will not require an advertising campaign to communicate. It will become obvious through the decisions you make and the actions that follow.
By living the USP in every facet of the business you soon become seen as unique by shoppers and this can drive excellent word of mouth and success for the business.
While differentiation in retail is more important today than ever thanks to today’s economic conditions, the approach to the challenge is the same as in the 1960s.
This information is provided by Tower Systems, an Australian software company serving close to 3,000 independently owned small retail businesses. Our POS and retail management software helps you encode and live your USP in many ways.
Our mission is to help independent small retail businesses thrive.