What makes you any different?

Every marketer worth their weight in ROI should ask you: what the hell makes you any different?

It’s blunt, and it’s certainly ill-mannered. But it’s the most important question for a business owner behind the fundamental ‘what do you sell?’.

The answer to that question is, of course, the humble unique selling point (USP). It’s what sets you apart from the overwhelming tide of competition.

USPs have been treated as the backbone of marketing strategy since the 1940s. The theory was devised by pioneer advertising executive Rosser Reeves, originally to explain a wave of successful Mad Men-esque advertising campaigns.

Reeves claimed that a USP is built from three basic rules:

  1. All ads must make a proposition to the consumer to say, ‘buy this product, for this specific benefit.’
  2. That proposition must be one the competition cannot or does not offer. It must be unique—a claim that others in your market do not make.
  3. The proposition must additionally be strong enough to move the masses.

Popular Medium publication The Startup recently published a thought piece claiming that brands should give up on USPs altogether. The author claims it’s not possible for every business to be unique and that we should, therefore, stop wasting time trying to identify USPs. At Roobix, we fundamentally disagree with that statement.

Every business is founded because someone wants to solve a problem. It might be the same problem solved by thousands of like-minded business owners – but each and every one of them differs in how they solve the problem. This is where you should start looking for your USP.

There are a few ways Roobix gets to your how – the heart of your USP.

How is your product made?

One of the best-cited examples of USP theory is the M&Ms campaign slogan: ‘melts in your mouth, not in your hands’. This directive is both simple and subtle. It says, ‘you should buy a packet of M&Ms because it’s the only chocolate product that won’t melt’. In this case, advertisers behind the product slogan used the manufacturing process to differentiate. M&Ms are specifically manufactured to prevent melting. It also implies other chocolate will melt.

Look at the tangible difference between how your product is made or how your service is delivered, then look at your competitors. What is different? Why?

What are the technical details?

Conduct a deep-dive into the technical details of your product or service to find a USP that will categorically set you apart. By taking an innocuous, bog-standard product feature and converting it into a USP, you set your brand up for instant differentiation. Take the go-to example of Pepsodent toothpaste. All toothpaste removes the film from your teeth – but Pepsodent claimed it first.

Another example is U.S. brand Folgers coffee, which declared its coffee is ‘mountain-grown’. All coffee is mountain grown. By shining a light on a technical feature of your product or service offering, you cut through the noise. That’s because taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary is the premise of all good marketing.

Pick a point and stick to a point

Sometimes less is more – especially when you want people to remember you. Your selling points might be many, and they might all be unique – but that doesn’t mean you should try to use all of them at once. Focus on your strongest USP. It could be your speed, your price point, or your specific method of welding. Build your brand around it. Then build all your advertising around it. From your biggest TV ad to your smallest PPC campaign, your difference will become your weapon against an oversaturated market.

That’s because taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary is the premise of all good marketing.
How do you get your point across?

Your USP might be hidden in the way your brand communicates. Presenting with a unique voice is crucial in our overcommunicated society because ad-drenched consumers are simply blind to run-of-the-mill claims.

At Roobix, we would call these anti-USPs.

They’re so commonplace they cease to exist in the eye of the beholder. For example:

  • We supply a quality product
  • We have a quick turnaround time
  • We supply premium products and services
  • We have great customer service
  • We stock a wide range of products

None of these ‘anti-USPs’ are unique. They are assumptions. A brand that cannot meet these basic criteria is not a brand that consumers want to buy from – because who wants to pick from a small range of low-quality products to be delivered without a smile six weeks later? Anti-USPs cheapen the brand and commodify the product. And they’re mind-numbing to read.

Exceptional strategists know we live in a world where all brands are just one boring, empty line away from losing their audience. That’s why crafting a USP you truly own is the starting point with Roobix.

And that’s why, pardoning our rudeness, we might ask you:

what the hell makes you any different?