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What the Heck is a USP? And do I need one?
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What the Heck is a USP? And do I need one?



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  • Rosser Reeves (10 September 1910–24 January 1984) was a hugely successful American advertising executive and pioneer of television advertising. He believed the purpose of advertising is to sell. He insisted that an advertisement or commercial should show off the value of a product, not the cleverness of a copywriterDon’t“we” on your prospects.
  • Rosser Reeves’ most typical ad is probably that for Anacin, a headache medicine. The ad was considered grating and annoying by almost all viewers but it was remarkably successful, tripling the product’s sales. In 7 years the 59-second commercial made more money than the movie Gone With The Wind had in a quarter-century. …
  • Is the Hormel Square Hot Dog a unique product? Yes. Does it make a proposition? Yes. Is it a compelling proposition? Am I willing to switch to Hormel square hot dogs because I am worried about my hot dog falling off the bun? NO. Shut down the production line, it’s over. This proposition is not a USP. What would be a good USP for a new kind of hot dog? Say you were charged with developing a new kind of hot dog. What unique selling proposition could you build a new product around? Sidelight: New product ideas often come before the actual product. Ideas?
  • Comments, questions?
  • Now you have your unique selling proposition. What’s next? To develop a marketing strategy to bring that USP to the customers or clients who can use your product or service. What things do you need to consider? How can you get your target audience to jump from their product or service to yours? And how do you think about that?Your competitors – How many competitors do you have? How much money are they spending, and where? Target audience – The people who would be the most likely buyers of what you’re selling. Where are they? How old? How much income? Family or singles? Sociological & demo info. Example: Hardee’s TV commercials. Who do you think their target audience is? Competition? Difference?Benefits you have over competitionBenefits they have over youHow you’re going to frame your USP in marketing language (creative strategy will refine it).
  • By the time you get to creative strategy, you know who you’re talking to, what benefit you’re going to talk about, and where you’re going to say it (generally based on budget and common sense). Creative strategy is all about how your marketing message looks, feels and sounds. And very importantly, how you’re going to create a message that gets you from attention to action. Familiar formula AIDA. Let’s say you’re doing a brochure. Do the colors matter? How about the language you use? How about the type style you use? How about the logo? The pictures you show? Give me an example of something you’re selling. Let’s go through those considerations briefly.
  • These are the basic types of media. Can anyone here tell me your experience with any or a combination of these? What considerations led you to choose that medium or media?


  • 1. What the heck is a USP? one? And do I need Copyright 2014 Liz Craig All rights reserved.
  • 2. The Mighty USP Devised by Rosser Reeves, the original Mad Man Unique Selling Proposition
  • 3. Fast, fast, fast relief!
  • 4. Unique? Unique means: Only you (your company, product or service) can or do claim this benefit. Example: Hormel Square Hot Dogs?
  • 5. Selling? Selling means: The unique claim you make must be compelling enough so that your competitors’ customers stop buying from them and start buying from you.
  • 6. Proposition? Proposition means: If you buy my X, you will get Y (benefit). Hormel says, “If you buy our square hot dog, it won’t roll off the bun.” USP?
  • 7. The proposition A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a compelling (selling) statement only you can (or do currently) make, which promises, “If you buy my X, you will get Y (desirable benefit).” What’s yours?
  • 8. Marketing strategy Competitors: #, $$, ? Target audience: Who? What benefit do you have that your logical competitor(s) don’t have? What benefit do they have that you don’t have? Marketing messages and media: What and where?
  • 9. Marketing strategy (cont’d.) SWOT – related to competitors in the marketplace: Strengths – Build on them. Weaknesses – Be honest with yourself. Address and eliminate weaknesses vs. your competition. Opportunities – Where can you make inroads? Threats – Competition, legal, regulatory?
  • 10. Creative strategy How do you present your USP in a way that grabs attention in a crowded, noisy marketplace? AIDA – The familiar formula How do you turn attention into interest, desire and action? What voice do you use, in language and graphics?
  • 11. Media Which media are best for promoting your product to your target audience, within the constraints of your budget? Print – Ads, brochures, direct mail, flyers Broadcast – TV spots, YouTube, radio, webcast Web – Web site, blog, paid ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitte r, other Web thingies Outdoor - Billboards
  • 12. Putting it all together USP development Marketing strategy Creative strategy Budget Media Timeline
  • 13. Questions?
  • 14. Contact info Liz Craig, Writer liz@lizcraigwriter.com http://lizcraigwriter.com Twitter: @LizCraig1 LinkedIn 913-236-7595 Thank you!