The quickest way to get your business plan noticed by investors is to have a unique selling proposition. Otherwise known as your USP, this portion of your business plan is small – only a single sentence long. But it is vital; your USP will reveal to the reader of your plan exactly what your business specifically stands for.
Why you need a USP
You need a USP because it is what will allow you to compete in the market. It is what makes you the expert in your industry, and what makes your business special over all of the other businesses you may be competing with.
Your USP will indicate what your business will be known for, even if it sells more than one product or service. For example, Starbucks sells pastries and other items in addition to its coffee, but its high-quality coffee is what the company is known for.
Creating Your USP
Although it is one of the shorter parts of your business plan, it’s important to invest time in crafting it properly. A USP is not like a headline; something that only requires writing something catchy to ‘hook’ the reader. Rather, your USP must explain how your product or service fits into the marketplace.
Your USP is also not a list of your product or service’s features and benefits. It is a direct statement of what your business sells to whom, and what needs it fulfils.
The first thing to know when crafting your USP is who your target audience is. Who will be buying what your business sells, and how old are they? You’ll also want to identify their gender, income, hobbies and habits. Answering these will allow you to have a complete profile of your customers.
Once you’ve identified your audience, you can use them to test the rough draft of your USP on. Choose a small group of your target audience and get their opinions on your USP to see whether or not you are reaching them effectively.
What other businesses are out there that sell what you sell? In order to craft a killer USP, you need to know who they are. But you also need to know their USPs so that you can craft one that is different.
Needs and Myths
Your USP needs to be able to communicate how your product or service fulfils a need you’ve identified. So if your product can save customers time, is more competitively priced than similar products or can do what other products and services cannot, you are filling a need.
Similarly, if your business can dispel a myth or stereotype, all the better. Basically anything about your business that goes against common perception can be used as leverage to craft a USP that gets attention.
Being as clear as possible is another way to ensure your USP has plenty of impact. As soon as you have answered what your business stands for, it’s time to compare that with the list you made of the things that make your business different from the competition. Your answer may have to be reworked until you’ve created one sentence that clearly defines your USP. Note that this step may take far longer than a few minutes or even a few weeks to get absolutely clear.
After you’ve finished crafting your USP, you can begin to use it for your marketing. Your USP can appear nearly anywhere, whether it’s on your web site, in your headlines, on your packaging or even your employee uniforms. Your USP should ideally become an integral part of your business’s every aspect.