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Carroll Business Path: Unique selling proposition essential

Coco Chanel said it best: "In order to be irreplaceable, one must be different.”

So, I challenge you to identify how your business is different in the eyes of the consumer. Do you stand out no matter what product you're selling or the marketplace you sell to?

Marketers call this a unique selling proposition. A USP is a clear, concise and compelling statement that explains how your business is different from everyone else in the market. It tells your story and explains why your business can better meet customers’ needs. An effective USP essentially tells them why you’re their best choice.

Developing a USP is an important step to move your business forward and all it takes is a little creativity and a clear mission statement.

Things to remember:

  • An effective USP complements your mission statement. A mission statement is a paragraph defining your business’ reason for existence, including philosophies, goals, key market and contribution.
  • A USP specifically addresses the needs of your market. It should be something customers can't live without, that solves their problems or makes their lives easier.
  • A well thought-out USP is memorable and creates emotion. It speaks to the fears, worries, desires and frustrations of your target market. It also has to stick in people’s minds so that you're the only one they think of when shopping.

A good USP is especially essential in a crowded market. If you're up against a large number of competitors, you need an especially strong USP to cut through the noise. On the other hand, even if your business is the only game in town, you still need to create a USP that speaks to your audience and business’ mission. It's not only about battling the competition, but also establishing a brand in the minds of your customers.

Amazingly, a majority of business owners fail to create a unique selling proposition. Of those who don't, almost 100 percent fail. However, creating a USP that suits your business and speaks to your audience doesn't automatically guarantee success. Your products or services need to deliver on the promise that your USP is making. Otherwise, it won't get you very far.

Your unique selling proposition won't appear out of thin air. Since this is such an important decision, it's a process that takes some time. However, it's not difficult to come up with the right message if you follow certain steps.

The SBTDC at Carroll Community College can provide the necessary coaching to define your target market, check out your competitors and analyze your products to find their unique selling point.

Amy Wallace is the director for the Northern Region Small Business Technology and Development Center. Email her at awallace@carrollbiz.org. SBTDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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