Every Cinderella story in marketing starts with a USP, Unique Sales Proposition- an element that makes what a company sells different. It gives consumers a reason to buy.
Consider the most tumultuous election of our time, Trump vs Clinton.

Donald Trump, the underdog and unexpected winner had a USP: It was, “I am politically incorrect, I will drain the swamp of political elitism and I will start over.”

He did this through the “Make America Great Again” theme. It was the ultimate switch pitch on “Hope and Change.” As most people know, that was the President Obama deliverable in 2008 and 20012.

Hillary Clinton’s message, “Better Together,” was much more a stay the course message.

We have seen this again and again. We have seen it with Netflix vs. Blockbuster, Apple vs. PC, and FedEx vs. the United States Postal Service.

So, what’s your USP? Here are 5 steps to develop one that becomes the centerpiece of your marketing efforts- online and offline.


Start with research

Begin by interviewing your clients and your competitor’s clients and prepare a ladder. On one side, list your advantages – in order of strengths. On the other side, list your weaknesses. Focus groups, online surveys, and qualitative reports such as Simmons or Scarborough will also add perspective to this process.


Pull out insights

An insight, according to Mirren Group, has three elements:

  1. An indisputable fact
  2. That hasn’t been leveraged.
  3. And can be used to make money.


Build a campaign around the insights with creative execution 

It needs to speak to the prospective buyers in a way that’s personal and engaging. We see this through HubSpot’s persona building. It’s a method of speaking the language of the person you are trying to attract.


Test the research and creative

Before spending money, it is wise to test the messaging with focus groups or online survey.


Collect feedback and make adjustments 

When a campaign is successful, it develops a life of its own.


A local case study

In the midst of the recession, research showed that Fulton Homes’ competition was not other home builders but foreclosures. This was an insight.

We then made the prospect of buying a foreclosure scary: mold spewing, diseased homes that needed vast amounts of money to become tolerable. We tested the campaign, the results were favorable and we build on it for a full twelve months. Fulton Homes outpaced all other home builders during that time, amassing market share during a down economy.

Unique Sales Position

Fulton Homes used this image to effectively play up the dangers of purchasing a foreclosed home.

Incidentally, Fulton Homes emerged from the recession as a top home builder in the Phoenix Metro area. Their USP is they are a nimble, local company that responds to what buyers want, offers 6,000 customizing options and makes changes when necessary.

Their competition is comprised of slow moving, national, public companies that move and respond slowly.

Your USP will be the source of marketing and business success for years to come.

Rosaria Cain is CEO of knoodle and advises clients in health care, real estate and manufacturing in strategy, content, creative, paid media and digital.