The personal blog of Arthur Khessin

Eternal search for the Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

There is a selection of buzzwords in business, which have some kind of evergreen characteristics – they always reappear. One of the champions among those is “Unique Selling Proposition” or USP.

Typically it goes like this:

Investor: “What is the USP of your product? Why should I invest in it?”

Start-Up: “Hmm.. What about being motivated and having an office in Berlin, does it do for you? Or better, please give me time till tomorrow and I will send you few!”

Let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with the concept of USPs. Most market segments are obeying the same rules.

In order to be competitive, you need to make the customer perceive your product being better (either significantly or in a different way) than the one of your competitors.

Product

It can be the product itself, which stands out by its usefulness (a possible result from innovation) for the aimed target user (unfortunately seldom sustainable, because easy to clone…).

Pricing

It can be the pricing, which results from lower costs, which again result from a better production process. You are capable to produce the same or better output with less invested ressources (although typically invisible by the customer, given most online products are free anyway). Scale effects play a significant role here, but if the production is not optimal, more efficient players could catch up very fast.

Marketing

It can be the distribution or marketing, by being exceptionally aggressive, creative or widely spread. In this category also the strength of the brand can play an important role.

Service

Or it can be the service, either pre-sale or after-sale.

Thanks to this elegant concept, you can analytically explain ex-post why a product is successful or not. But you can also use it to identify white spots which a future product of yours could target.

And exactly here is the key misunderstanding among many:

A product with USPs is not going to be successful by definition. But if your product doesn’t have any, it IS going to fail by definition.

Here are some crucial take-aways:

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