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Without A USP You're Dead

Competition. Oh dear!

Unfortunately this aggravating obstacle keeps getting in the way of our first million. Or perhaps in your case your second.

But with so many people selling almost identical products, it's often difficult to tell the difference. So how do you persuade your prospect to buy yours, and not one of the dozens of others so readily available?

Obviously you have to stand out from the crowd. If you're competing in a crowded marketplace you must at least appear different.


You have to isolate your product's Unique Selling Point and THRUST IT at your prospect. If you don't, you're dead in the water.

Yes you do have something unique to offer

What's that - your product is similar to your competitors? Join the club! Let's consider my position as a Copywriter and Marketing Consultant. (Yes I know you've been waiting for the commercial. But at least this one is educational.)

There are lots of 'average' copywriters around. And a few really good ones. Yet even though many of my clients tell me that I am a cut above the rest, I still have to convince potential new clients they will be wiser choosing me.

So I had to identify my USP. And what is it? In which area am I different to most other copywriters. And more importantly, what can I offer my clients that would specifically benefit them?

It's 30 self-employed years in marketing and one-to-one sales. And the fact that I rely on my Copywriting skills to sell my own books through my own Direct Marketing company.

So I have a very unique benefit to offer my prospective clients. I have hands-on practical experience of doing exactly the same thing they are doing - selling a product through advertising.

So my clients get more than just professionally crafted words. Their sales results benefit from skilled advertising copy filled with marketing experience, and my natural instinct to sell. As David Ogilvy said of himself "Once a salesman always a salesman".

That's my USP. And there is no point in being coy about it, so I thrust it up front for everyone to see. And they buy. David Ogilvy, as you may know, is regarded by many as the most successful advertising copywriter of his generation, building one of the largest Advertising Agencies in the world.

So don't kid yourself that your product, or service, has no USP. If you can't find one, you have to work hard to create one. Fast!

What can you offer that's different?

Deliver your gizmo by hand. Plate it in 14ct gold. Give a longer guarantee. Offer a Free Bonus (make sure your bonus will be of benefit.) Open longer hours. Give Free training. Add some some extra value. Slash your price (WHAT!!!! No please don't do that.)

There are countless things you can do to make your product, and your company, stand out from the rest! And very often, a sales-winning USP can be created from a feature that is common in all other products similar to yours.

For example....

I recently went to buy some bread from my local supermarket. A simple enough task you may think. Not exactly. There must have been at least 30 different brands, and prices, stacked high on the shelves.

Then I chanced to over-hear a lady remark to her friend "Oh I think I'll buy a couple of these - it says on the wrapper it's suitable for vegetarians!"

Now I'm no dietician, but I'll bet good money that many of the other 29 brands were just as suitable. I read the list of ingredients of 8 different brands and 5 of them simply mentioned in tiny print that their bread 'contains no animal fats'. But they hadn't told the prospect that 'no animal fat' made their bread suitable for vegetarians.

One enterprising company had created a USP from a feature common in many of its competitors products. Then thrust it up-front for everyone to see.

And the Advertising Hall Of Fame is filled with high profile examples of this very thinking. "Our toothpaste is approved by the British Dental Association" (not 'Recommended' but simply 'Approved' like most other toothpastes.) "XYZ Toilet Soap Stops B.O." (if you bathe often enough doesn't all soap achieve the same thing?).

All it takes is a little work

So sit down and list every single feature of your product or service, and look at each one from a different angle. Put yourself in your prospect's shoes. And as you examine each feature write alongside it the answer to the question that everyone of us asks when an ad makes a statement or claim. "What's in it for me?"

Or if you want some really revealing answers read your feature out loud and ask "So What?" You will be surprised at the answers you come up with.

But by paying close attention to your own answers, and turning them into benefits, you'll eventually reveal your strongest benefit. One that you just know is a winning USP.

And remember. To achieve maximum impact, your USP must be offered as a benefit. Don't simply tell your prospect you give a 12 month guarantee because it will come over as a feature, and get lost in the rest of your ad. 'No animal fat' is a feature - 'suitable for vegetarians' is a benefit.
So before you attempt to write any copy for your product or service, you must identify your USP. Get knuckled down and spend a great deal of effort - nay a huge amount of effort - on this vitally important task.

You will also discover that writing your advertising will become a great deal easier. And you'll see a dramatic increase in your sales.

And that, as they say, is what it's all about!

Copyright 2003 by Joe Robson * All rights reserved

Joe Robson is co-author of 'Make Your Words SELL' with Ken Evoy. Joe and Tom Glander own The Newbie Club which is bulging with unique NET and PC Newbie tutorials and eBooks. CLICK ON OVER to and look at their very professional Affiliate Program. It's BIG! Joe's Copywriting site is at


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