Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

Your Unique Value Proposition / Unique Selling Proposition (UVP or USP) is one of your most essential messages. It's a powerful - succinct statement that will:

  • Describe how you are unique, and therefore differentiate you and your product / service from your competitors in your market.
  • Resonate directly to the company brand - yours and your prospects (yes, even as individuals, we are a brand).
  • Give you insight about how to effectively market your product / service.

If you are having difficulty defining your Unique Value Proposition, you can be sure that your potential customers are as well. How can customers choose you if they are unable to quickly understand what's unique about what you do and why it should mean something to them?

Customers want to work with 'special professionals'. How can you show customers that you are worth more and that they should choose you? Know and use your Unique Value Proposition. Value is the intrinsic worth of your offer to your customers; it defines what they get for their money.

Quite simply, without a Unique Value Proposition your company risks becoming lost in a sea of similar.

What steps can you take? 

Think Internally

What makes you unique? What sets you apart within your organization?

Take the time to really understand how your organization is different from your competition. A brainstorming session is a good way to start identifying your differences. Then, support this message internally to help you and your employees focus on the deliverables that set your organization apart and keep your customers coming back... and providing referals. 

If you haven't done a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), analysis in a while, now would be a good time. As part of your SWOT analysis, pay special attention to the characteristics of your product or service and your customer service model - things that clearly distinguish you from as many of your competitors as possible. 

Think Externally

What's important to your clients? Think only like them. Does language like 'increasing lifetime value' or 'profitability' or 'increasing efficiencies' impact their buying decision? If they do then it's essential to use this language when defining your Unique Value Proposition. Is Customer Service a factor? Delivery? Reputation? Customability? 

Want to stand out from others?

Here is an important opportunity your competition is likely missing. Ask your customers and employees how they perceive your company and how they would define your UVP. This can be a humbling experience and is best accomplished by a professional facilitator.

Why use a professional facilitator to help you through these exercises?

Think Internally

If you are trying to facilitate a question period using an internal senior manager or director, customers may feel overwhelmed while employees may not understand what you are doing. In either case they may not be as open as they could be. Employees may fear they will be reprimanded or even fired if they are honest. Others may feel threatened if they can not clearly define the uniqueness you provide - causing stress and poor performance.

Think Externally

Too often a company facilitator will start making excuses to a customer, or begin correcting their perceptions. Remember, the objective of this exercise is to discover and understand what your customers and employees perceptions are. Technically, their perceptions may not be accurate - but if they feel them they are valid and this makes it imperative you know about them.

If a gap is defined that is good. You can now begin putting a strategy in place that closes that gap with effective marketing and communication. You are now in an advantageous position.

As an aid in this process, ask yourself this question: "What is it about what we do that makes us better and why should anybody care?" Combining your honest answer to this question with some objectivity and customer input will get you far along the path to identifying and documenting your Unique Value Proposition.

Can you create is a succinct statement that's only one or two sentences long about what sets you apart from your competitors? This statement is an essential message to your businesses core communication. Can you define, quantifiably, what the customer will likely experience when doing business with you? You'll need to live up to everything you promise.

One warning: be honest with yourself. Your Unique Value Proposition can not cover up deficiencies in your business or build capabilities you would like to have. Your Unique Value Proposition is not what you say or what you wish... your UVP is what you are.

The bottom line is to speak to your audience in a way that is relevant to them - but also in a way that you and your product / service will stand out in the crowd. Once you have defined your Unique Value Proposition, use it throughout all your marketing, advertising, sales, and customer service communication. Because you know, you'll be able to strategically use it to attract more of the right customers.

NOTE: Unique Value Proposition is the same as Unique Selling Proposition or Unique Selling Point.

Bruce Mayhew spoke at an OGL Chamber of Commerce event. Click to read their testimonial.

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Copyright © 2008 by Bruce Mayhew.