Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – A Pull Marketing Tool

selling your unique products.

The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) has been a key marketing tool almost as long as the term marketing has been used. Rosser Reeves coined the phrase in his book, “Reality in Advertising”, in 1961. His definition was as follows:

  1. The proposition to the customer should be: “buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.”
  2. The proposition itself must be unique.
  3. The proposition must be strong enough to pull new customers to the product.

Many now try to use the concept without realizing that it is very much a pre-Internet concept. Rosser Reeves was with a major New York advertising agency, Ted Bates & Co. It was very much a Push Marketing concept. It focused on driving home a central, research-based selling point. The well-heeled clients put mega-bucks behind the USP to get it in the faces of their prospective clients.

The world has changed mightily since then. It’s Permission Marketing time. The prospective purchaser is in control. If people don’t know about your company, then you’ve somehow got to stand out from the crowd. It’s Pull Marketing that you’ve got to practice. Technically Unique Selling Proposition is hardly the right term. No one is going to wait around to hear a proposition from someone they’ve never heard of. Indeed some people now use USP to mean Unique Selling Point, and that’s perhaps a better working definition now.

Whether it is Unique Selling Proposition or Unique Selling Point, the essence of the USP is still correct. It’s got to be something that is attractive to that potential purchaser and is in a sense unique. They won’t be able to get the same thing from anyone else. .. and it’s got to be transmitted almost in the blink of an eye before they click away to one of the many other potential suppliers.

It’s always useful to test and refine ideas and it should be said that these reflections came through discussions with a client as we attempted to hone the Unique Selling Proposition. The market is an intensely competitive market, scrapbooking supplies, and the company involved is called Arte Latin-Oh! The eventual USP we developed together is ‘Spanish Scrapbook and Papercraft Supplies with True Latin Warmth‘. We’ll now see how well it performs in the ‘blink of an eye’ test.

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