Hatching Free Range Ideas

Unique Selling Proposition

In marketing, Unique Selling Proposition on January 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Each learner was asked as a part of the online course on graphic facilitation, to create a Unique Selling Proposition statement. This is a very condensed elevator speech which describes to your target customer why you are the best answer to their needs. So far, I’ve spent about 8 hours on it and I’ve only gotten through Part 2. This looks like about 20-40 hours of work to me at this point but it’s important work.

I thought I’d share my process with you. In a world where there seems to be more and more competition, it feels really important to me to be able to quickly and clearly describe my value add.

So here’s what I’m working through.

1. First, I created a customer empathy map, which caused two customer segments to emerge.

The map showed me that my two customer segments are radically different. So what is it they share?

2. Next I have to figure out my customer’s core problem –that which scares the pants off of them or keeps them up at night.

3. Now I have to decide how my customer defines value. In other words, what do they consider when they make a buying decision. Here’s a partial list of value propositions. Thanks to Business Model Generation for this thinking. If you haven’t at least thumbed through a copy of this BRILLIANT business book, you’re missing a whole lot.

Value Proposition

Questions to ask of your business

Price Are you the low cost providers?
Newness Do you have something never before available, like cell phones or ethical investment vehicles
Tailor made Do you offer something that is specific to the customer’s needs? Do they help create it?
Performance Does your product or service do more than the others?
Quality Will your offer stand the test of time?
Convenience/Usability Are you and everything about you easy to use?
Image/Status Do you have cache in the marketplace?  Do you work with or have access to industry leaders?
Service Do you bend over backward to provide the best service? That includes service after the “paid” relationship is over
Expertise Are you the go-to person for your industry? How deep is your bench strength?
Reliability Customers often value honesty and integrity above many other factors. They will pay more or travel a greater distance to deal with a trustworthy business owner who offers reliable products and services.
Appearance Customers are attracted to businesses or products that are clean, organized, and tastefully arranged.
Turnkey Do you take care of the entire problem?
Reduce cost Do you help customers significantly reduce costs?
Reduce risk Do you offer a guarantee that reduces the customer’s risk upon purchase?
Accessibility Do you make something available to a class of customer that wasn’t previously within their grasp? Think time share.

4. Now I need to figure out what my own strengths are. That’s the first column. My strengths are features of my work and my expertise. If you’re going to do this, push yourself to come up with a longer list than you might ordinarily. For example, give yourself 10 minutes and don’t stop writing until the time is up. List everything, like even that you have strong quads. Just keep writing. I notice as I look at this list that I didn’t put down that I’m funny or fun. I’ll add that later, maybe along with visual literacy. OK, I’m not brilliantly visually literate but I get it, pretty far beyond most normal business people.



Creative ideas around any barrier
Learn quickly; experienced at learning quickly
Passion for learning
Write well (25+ years)
Results driven (let’s make sure it works) – Do I guarantee outcomes?
Lead experts through decision making to document process
Sketch process for shared understanding
Translate that into learning design
Design based on business outcomes, not learning outcomes
Create fun, passion and engagement
Engage all knowledge in the room
Encourage challenge; test ideas
Listen and document; use document to test
Write stores/cases for learning
Comfortable with uncertainty

5. So far, these exercises have been separate, me from my customer. Where I start to put them together is in Benefit column. So why does my customer care about each strength? This is as far as I have gotten on the process. I have to do this part and the parts remaining, but it would be helpful for me to work on the benefits with someone who wasn’t so close to my own insides. I’ll find a friend.

Brilliant Beverly Ingle brought up yesterday that after you do this, it’s important to test your customer assumptions by talking with a few customers. It might be dangerous to go forward to completion, printing up your business cards and completing your branding plan without validation. Thanks, Bev! Great Point!

6. Here’s a big one for me. What am I willing to put on the line because I believe in my abilities? What am I willing to guarantee?

I’ve got three outcomes that apply to my work. The curriculum I develop helps people think more broadly, behave in a way that is consistent with business drivers and/or goals and make better decisions.

A guarantee feels important to me, to put my money where my mouth is, to truly differentiate me from my competition. Do I feel comfortable saying that as a customer you get these things or your money back? I’d like to be able to. What controls do I need to put in place to make this a shared measure? And, yes, there will always be assholes in the world who will push the envelope to screw you, but I would prefer not to base my business on that belief. I can say that because what I have at stake are the hours that I put into the work, not a city block with a high rise on it.

7. Finally, now that all this thinking is done, I come to creating my USP. I brainstorm/braindump/stream of consciousness write my USP paragraph.

8. Then I condense, condense, delete, rewrite, condense until it’s more of a marketing Haiku than a speech.

9. Finally, I test it out on some favorite customers. I ask them their opinion. And I revise, revise, revise.

When I get through the process for myself, I’ll update this post with my own USP. I might be so proud of it that I update ALL my posts with my USP. Who knows?

So what’s yours?

  1. Great Kate. You have given me SO much to think about. I will reread this one several times. Thanks

  2. […] of that, I have been struggling to define my perfect client a key piece off figuring out my Unique Selling Proposition. I struggled with that puzzle as I drew two different types of clients and then tried to map what […]

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