Are You In Search of the Unique?

by J.F. (Jim) Straw

What is your Unique Selling Proposition?

Here lately, I've had a number of calls saying ...

"I really need to find a unique product to sell by mail or on the Internet" 
- or -
"My product doesn't have anything unique about it" 
- or -
The first thing I tell them is to 'go back and read the book,' again. Not my book, Dan Kennedy's book (or newsletter).

Dan Kennedy, as you should know, is the chief proponent of using a "Unique Selling Point" or "Unique Selling Proposition" (either way, I'll use USP from now on) to market your products or services. But, Dan does not say you have to have a 'unique' product, or find something 'unique' about your product, or make your product more 'unique.'

It is the "selling point" (or "selling proposition") itself that has to be "unique" ... which may, or may not, have to do with your product or service being unique.

As an example: Coffee is pretty much coffee ... isn't it? But, Folgers is "Mountain Grown" coffee; while Maxwell House coffee is "Good To The Last Drop."

Whoa! You say "Mountain Grown" coffee is unique.

Wrong ... caffeine breathe. All coffee is grown in the mountains ... even Folgers ... because that's the only place coffee plants grow.



Folgers used "Mountain Grown" as its USP for their coffee back before most people knew coffee was only grown in the mountains. Beyond that, once Folgers used that USP, no other coffee company would dare say their coffee was grown in the mountains, too. It would sound too much like they were trying to copy Folgers.

Back when I was in the banking business, the USP I used for our bank was "We Never Forget What Gives Money Its Value ... Somebody Exchanged Work For It!"

When you begin creating a marketing program for your products (or services), before you do anything else, you need to make two lists.

The first list is your Fact List. In that list, you annotate everything about the properties of your product ... what it's made of ... where it comes from ... what it does ... what it doesn't do ... how it does what it does (Sometimes, I go so far as to take a product apart and separately list every component in it.)

Once you have your Fact List, you need to make a Benefits List. I usually make two Benefits Lists. One is labeled "Tangible Benefits" and the other list is "Intangible Benefits." The "Tangible" list may include the words 'light weight,' while the "Intangible" list may say, 'you can lift it with one finger.' I try to write at least one benefit ... preferably more ... for every item on the Fact List.- Get the idea?

When you have all your Facts and Benefits written down, read those lists over and over until something 'unique' hits you between the eyes. It might be a phrase from your Benefits List ... like "Good To The Last Drop" ... or a descriptive from your Fact List ... like "Mountain Grown."

Remember, it is the "selling point" that has to be 'unique' ... not necessarily your product or service. But, you might not want to carry it too far.

Although I have wracked my feeble brain ... squeezed my little grey cells until they cried ... I can't for the life of me remember who it was who commented on an ad they had read. I can't remember whether it was in one of Johnny Carson's monologues; or some stand-up comic's routine, or if the ad being commented on was even real but, the punch line; supposedly from the ad itself, was ...

"Made From Real Plastic!"

That might be carrying the concept of the USP just a step too far. Then again, it might just be 'unique' enough to grab the reader's attention and get them to read the rest of the ad.

Copyright 2000 - PHLANDER Company.

J. F. (Jim) Straw is the publisher of the "Business Lyceum e-Letter" - a monthly "how-to" e-Letter Visit him at http://www.BusinessLyceum.com

 
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