A USP is what makes your company stand out from its competitors and tells people what is special about it. Many business owners don’t know how to determine their USP – either that or they’re suffering from the results of not having one. So here’s a quick guide on how to firstly identify and then develop yours.

Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes

Having a passion for your products or services is great, but don’t forget that what you’re selling is initially to meet your prospect’s needs; not yours. Take some time to really analyse what your prospects will want from you.

For example, say you owned a restaurant. People are going to come into your place for food, but is food all that they want? What would make them come back to you and not your competitors? The answers include quality, cleanliness, convenience and customer service.

Always remember that price is never the only reason people buy. If your competition is beating you on pricing, then you have to find another feature that addresses your customers’ needs, then build your promotional and sales efforts around that.

Know what motivates your customers’ buying decisions and behaviours

Effective marketing does mean you have to be a little bit of a psychologist. Don’t panic – we don’t mean you need to know the ins and outs of the brain – but you should be aware of what drives and motivates customers. Try and go further than the traditional, basic demographics (age, gender, location, etc.) which are what most businesses collect to analyse their customer trends. Going back to our restaurant example, it isn’t enough to know that 50% of your customers are in the 18-25 age range. Be aware of their motives for buying your type of food; convenience, word-of-mouth, etc.

Beauty and cosmetic product companies are good examples of an industry that knows the value of psychologically-orientated promotion. People buy these types of products based on their specific desires (e.g. for luxury, glamour and so on), not for their needs.

Uncover the real reasons customers choose you over your competitors

As your business grows and develops, you can ask your customers why they came to you. The restaurant owner could ask customers why they like his/her food over others, as well as asking them to rate the importance of features he/she offers, such as taste, ingredients, portion size, service and atmosphere. You’ll be surprised at how honest people are when you ask them to assess your services.

If your business is new and starting out and you don’t have many customers, have a nose at your competition instead to see what they’re doing. Many retailers visit their competitors’ stores to see what and how they are selling.

After going through this 3-step market process, you need to take the next (and most difficult) step. Really think, what features of your business jump out at you as something that sets you apart? What can you promote? How can you position your business to highlight your USPs?

Successful business ownership isn’t necessarily about having a unique product or service; it’s about making your product stand out – even in a market filled with similar items.