Unique selling proposition
||This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (October 2010)|
The unique selling proposition (a.k.a. unique selling point, or USP) is a marketing concept that was first proposed as a theory to understand a pattern among successful advertising campaigns of the early 1940s. It states that such campaigns made unique propositions to the customer and that this convinced them to switch brands. The term was developed by pioneer of television advertising, Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company. Theodore Levitt, professor at Harvard Business School, suggested that "differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage." The term has been used to describe one's "personal brand" in the marketplace. Today the term is used in other fields or just casually to refer to any aspect of an object that differentiates it from similar objects.
In Reality in Advertising Reeves laments that the USP is widely misunderstood and gives a precise definition in three parts:
- Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: "Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit."
- The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
- The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2011)|
Some good current examples of products with a clear USP are:
- Head & Shoulders: "You get rid of dandruff"
Some unique propositions that were pioneers when they were introduced:
- Anacin "Fast, fast, incredibly fast relief." In 1952, Rosser Reeves created a TV commercial that capitalized on Anacin's "special ingredient", caffeine, by suggesting limitations of other aspirin and repeating three times the differentiation proposition: "fast".
- Domino's Pizza: "You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less—or it's free."
- FedEx: "When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight"
- M&M's: "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand"
- Metropolitan Life: "Get Met, It Pays"
- Southwest Airlines: "We are the low-fare airline."
The term USP has been largely replaced by the concept of a Positioning Statement. Positioning is determining what place a brand (tangible good or service) should occupy in the consumer's mind in comparison to its competition. A position is often described as the meaningful difference between the brand and its competitors
- Levitt, Theodore (1986). The marketing imagination (New, expanded ed. ed.). New York: Free Press. ISBN 0029191807.
- Harvard Business Review. March 2011 http://hbr.org/2011/03/reinventing-your-personal-brand/ar/1
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- Reeves, Rosser (1961). Reality in Advertising. Macgibbon and Kee. pp. 46–48. ISBN 0394442288.
- Butler (2006). Television Critical Methods and Applications. (3rd ed. ed.). Hoboken: Taylor & Francis Ltd. p. 420. ISBN 1410614743.
- Goodwin, Bryan (2011). Simply better : doing what matters most to change the odds for student success. Alexandria, Va.: ASCD. p. 11. ISBN 1416612955.