What’s A Unique Selling Proposition And Why Does Your Business Need It

What’s A Unique Selling Proposition And Why Does Your Business Need It

If you are interested in business and marketing, you will learn at some point the need for a single offer. A unique selling offer is defined as follows by Entrepreneur.com encyclopaedia:

“The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.”

But what does that mean? How will your company benefit from a unique sales proposal?

The problem with book definitions is that they seldom help to understand what such a term means. You can read a textbook and never really understand its core meaning.

So what’s a unique sales proposition exactly and how does it help your company succeed?

The Real Definition of a Unique Selling Proposition

What your company stands for is a unique selling proposal. This is what distinguishes your business from others because of what your company represents. Instead of trying to be famous for everything, companies with a unique sales offer represent something specific and it becomes known for it.

Many companies are wrong to try to offer everything when they start. They want to do all perfectly and they want to be everything to everybody. You want to be known for the best quality AND the lowest prices. AND the cheapest price with the best food. The most delicious salads, and the most savoury steaks and ribs, they want to be famous for the best burgers.

This is the problem:

If you try to be known for all, you won’t be known for anything.

Let’s give an example to two hypothetical enterprises.

Web design, social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), copywriting, conversion optimization, PPC and more are offered by the company number one. 

SEO and copywriting services are offered, but do not provide web design, social media marketing, conversion optimization, etc.

Now let’s think about a client – an experienced CEO that’s trying to find an SEO copywriter who can write your website content. He knows both businesses as well.

He thinks of them as a web design company when he looks at company one, and does not even know that they are writing SEO copies because they’re best known for their website design. He thinks of Company two as an SEO company because that’s their specialty.

Who do you think will be chosen to to deliver this service? The person who is generally known for web design, or the person known specifically for SEO copywriting?

A big digital marketing agency can become famous for all these services, as it has many staff and many departments.

But if a smaller company wishes to steal a larger competitor’s market share, it is better to be known for something rather than to do everything about it. Remember, your business must stand out for something because that is what you’re going to become famous for, that is if you want to “have a unique selling proposal.”

Let’s take a look at a few more instances.

Basecamp Unique Selling Proposition

Basecamp is a 37Signals project management software and provides an excellent illustration of a unique sales proposal.

Basecamp is a tool for “Online Project Collaboration,” according to their website, used by millions of people and “the best choice of entrepreneurs, self-employed individuals, small companies and groups within large organisations.” You will notice that Basecamp is not the best choice for large organisations and multinational companies when you pay close attention to the second declaration. Rather, it says that freelancers are the best and smaller choice for Organizations. This is done on purpose.

37 Signals decided to create Basecamp for smaller organizations as an online project partnership tool. They realised that the product wouldn’t be awesome to everyone, i.e. smaller organizations, and multinational corporations. For smaller businesses, the product is too complicated and risks being too easy for large companies.

Their unique selling proposal is second nature for Basecamp. Their whole philosophy is to create software that meets very small requirements and not functional software that everyone wants.

37 Signals took a stand in order to create a product for smaller businesses, rather than compromise and make the product less efficient by trying to appeal to everyone. As a result, they have become the choice for independent and smaller organisations in online project collaboration. Rather than creating an entirely different product, which does not appeal to anyone, they are known to have the best tool on the market for a certain segment of the market.

Starbucks Unique Selling Proposition

Starbucks is another successful company that conducts an excellent case study on unique sales proposals. They went from a small coffee shop in Washington to one of America’s most well known brands and made this country into a coffee connoisseur nation.

How have they done that? You guessed – they developed a unique offer.

To get familiar with the unique offer of Starbucks, you can ask, “What do you mean by Starbucks, and why are they known?” The answer is easy: they represent high-quality coffee drinks and they are known for them.

They don’t offer the cheapest prices for coffee drinks. If they did, the corner gas stations would not stand out. They stand out from corner gas stations that sell coffee cups of $0.99 because they provide premium coffee.

Instead, if they were to compete head to head with gas stations on price, quality would suffer. They wouldn’t be able to offer high quality coffee.

They also don’t offer r premium coffee AND gourmet sandwiches AND the best smoothies AND the best prices. Yes, for various periods of time, they offered these products in various forms, but that is not what they represent.

You don’t try to be known as a wonderful coffee, sandwich or Smoothie place, and you don’t try to rival McDonald’s or Jamba Jewelry head to head. Rather, they are the convenience of a premium café, which sells sandwiches and smoothies for breakfast if you want it while picking up your coffee.

Don’t be fooled! Although Starbucks offers products other than coffee beverages, they are known for producing high-quality coffee beverages.

If they tried to become known for all, Starbucks would not be uniquely known. By standing as a premium coffee company, they are unique and known for something.

Zappos Unique Selling Proposition

Zappos is another company with an excellent and unique offer. The most convenient, customer friendly shop for the purchase of shoes. They have achieved this by offering free shipping and free return. The result is that people order several shoes and return those they don’t want at a time. This works sometimes in Zappos, if customers keep additional pairs, but other times it reduces their profit margins.

Zappo is, however, known as the most convenient online shop for shopping for customers. But not known for being the best shop for shoes AND the cheapest prices. 

Both of these would not be possible. If they offered the lowest prices, they cannot offer free shipments and return shipments for each customer on several pairs of shoes.

Zappos has a unique and simple sales proposal: it has the best return policy ever. A return policy that eliminates the risk that shoes might not fit online buying and buying.

This would not only be impossible and forced into bankruptcy, but they would not also distinguish themselves from competition. Since many online stores are competitive on prices, Zappos wouldn’t stand out for anything if it only offered the lowest prices.

Zappos is famous for its best customer service, providing the best customer shipping policy and is distinguished by its crowds and standing for best customer service and free shipping. They are also able to sell shoes at a higher price as they distinguish themselves from the competition.

What do you want your company to do?

You can’t try to be known for everything to have a unique sales proposition. Something has to be unique in your offer. You must decide what is going to stand for your business and what you will be known for. You will become known for this unique quality and stand out from the crowd by choosing something to make your business unique.

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