My family and I recently moved into a new home in a new suburb. Part of getting to know the new area is experiencing the local takeaways. So the other day we went to the local fish and chip shop. We thought it must be good since they had a huge banner out the front advertising “Voted Australia’s Best Fish ‘n’ Chips – 2010 – Award Winning Customer Service.” I’m not sure what happened in the last 5 years, but I would say they deserve an award for the world’s worst customer service. It almost felt like we were a burden to come into the shop and buy fish and chips. What’s more, Urbanspoon (a foodie review site) have numerous reviews claiming the exact same experience as ours. Sad for this small business, but like my husband says “I like to vote with my feet.”
Having a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) isn’t only necessary, but it should be believable, otherwise you’re better off not even having one. I think the weakest USP a business can adopt is the whole “We are the best” or “We’re better than you”. Yet the local fish and chip shop aren’t the only ones who have failed. So how do small businesses (that does not really have a unique product, like the local fish and chip shop) create a USP that people can believe? This might seem hard to do, but by taking a feature and making it seem unique, by being very specific about it, you create a USP. I really like how Iacobucci (2013) puts it “if you don’t have real differences and cannot see a way to create them, then create an image-based difference.”
Here are some examples I like:
- M&Ms don’t advertise as having better quality chocolate than other chocolates, but instead they pointed out how M&Ms “melt in your mouth, not in your hand.”
- Avis is only No. 2 in rent-a-cars, so why choose them? “We try harder”
- BMW don’t try to tell you they are the better luxury car to drive, they say they are “the ultimate driving machine”
- Subway use two simple words, “Eat fresh”. They are cleverly telling us that it is the healthier fast food option, without telling us they are better than other fast foods.
From these examples, you can see that it is possible to create an image-based difference when it seems like you don’t have a USP. Without a strong USP, how can you confidently promote and sell your product? How can you convince people to buy from you and not your competitor? The “We’re the best” message isn’t the way to go. What are some good and bad USPs you can think of?