Communicating Your Unique Selling Proposition

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By Goke Ilesanmi


Life is about competition. Whether you are a businessman, student, job-seeker, worker or even a beggar, you are daily confronted with peer competition. To stay ahead of competition, you need to identify and effectively communicate your Unique Selling Proposition also known as “Unique Selling Point” or “Unique Sales Proposition”.


Memory lane

Some years ago, a man who said he had just been released from the prison was begging people for money in Lagos, Nigeria. Midway into his narration of how he had been mistakenly arrested and imprisoned, the cobweb of his good command of English Language caught almost everybody around and aroused sympathy towards him. Before he could continue giving details, almost all the people around had started giving him money because they were convinced that he was not just an ordinary beggar begging for money (out of sheer laziness). Because English Language has become a non-material instrument of gauging people’s height on the socio-intellectual ladder, people quickly believed that he could not have been a criminal after all. He was able to get attention ahead of other beggars because of his impeccable English, his Unique Selling Proposition.



As a job-seeker for instance, while preparing your curriculum vitae or cover letter, you need to think about your Unique Selling Proposition, what stands you out. As a business organisation, for instance, identifying and communicating your Unique Selling Proposition will greatly boost your chances of survival and profitability. The benefits you derive from effectively communicating your Unique Selling Proposition are embedded in the three words making up the phrase “Unique Selling Proposition”. In other words, through structural decomposition or segmentation of the phrase into constituent parts, you can clearly understand the benefits.


Segmentation and interpretation constituent words

Let us start with the first (adjectival) word “Unique”. Being unique implies that you will clearly stand out in a crowd of your competitors. Just like I normally say in my motivational talks, when you are unique, especially through excellence, you will be sitting when competitors are sleeping; standing when they are sitting; outstanding when they are standing; you will stand out when they are outstanding. Even when some of them try to stand out, you will become the standard with which their stand-out will be measured. Yes! But it can only be achieved through extraordinary hard work. The second constituent word is “Selling”. Being able to stand out will help you persuade prospects and customers alike to exchange money for your product or service. The third constituent word “Proposition”, a distinct proposal from a special person or organisation that you have been, will easily help you get business or sales, especially that you have stood out in a crowd. You can see the interconnectedness in the constituent concepts of the phrase “Unique Selling Proposition”.


Investment of efforts

Building your Unique Selling Proposition requires investment of a lot of efforts. But it is a worthwhile venture due to the added advantage derivable from it in terms of edge over competitors. The task of composing a Unique Selling Proposition can sometimes be taxing. Yet, every business needs to identify and communicate its own, to be able to stay ahead of competition. A lot of businesses market their Unique Selling Proposition by stressing the advantages of their products or services. In your Unique Selling Proposition, place emphasis on the positive differences between you and others in the marketplace. However, if you cannot differentiate your business in terms of what you sell, why not capitalise on the way you sell or your accessibility or good location? Most often, the Unique Selling Proposition is articulated through a slogan or credo.


Weak Unique Selling Proposition

One major factor that is worthy of note when determining your Unique Selling Proposition is the ease with which your competitors can copy it. Research shows that many people and organisations mistakenly use pricing as their Unique Selling Proposition. But this is ineffective and weak except you are capable of sell a large quantity on a consistent level. Just as Andrew Griffiths says in “101 Survival Tips for Your Business”, you need to charge the price your product or service is worth irrespective of the pressure of competition. This is because price competition is risky. There is no disputing the fact that you need to know what your competitors offer. In short, you cannot compete effectively if you lack knowledge of what you have to contend with in terms of competitors’ activities. So take some time and conduct research into what they have. Even though there are many possibilities of composing a Unique Selling Proposition, the best thing to do, however, is to adopt a Unique Selling Proposition that creatively offers an answer to a clear vacuum in the market that you can actually fill.


Application of SWOT Analysis

You can easily discover the vacuum by applying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis to the operations of competitors in your industry and building your strength in the areas of your competitors’ weaknesses. Then you can communicate this strength through your Unique Selling Proposition. It is also noteworthy that communicating a Unique Selling Proposition that a person or an organisation lacks competence for can be very tragic as credibility may be eroded. For instance, imagine a transport company that has vehicles plying only half of the 36 states in Nigeria using a Unique Selling Proposition such as, “We cover nooks and crannies of Nigeria”! What happens if prospective passengers go there to get vehicles to others states not covered only for them (the passengers) to be told that services have not been extended to those states? If we apply Aristotle’s Inductive Reasoning of Theory of Syllogism, such prospective passengers will just conclude from a specific instance to reach their conclusion that the transport company may not even be plying other areas effectively or at all. So using an empty slogan as your Unique Selling Proposition may cause more harm than not having a Unique Selling Proposition at all.


Last words

In writing your Unique Selling Proposition, be specific not vague. For instance, “This vehicle is the fastest” is vague. Instead, say, “This vehicle covers… kilometres in… hour(s)”. “This stove cooks fast” is vague. Instead be specific and say, “This stove cooks beans in… minute(s)”. Identify and communicate your Unique Selling Proposition today and you will be able to stay ahead of competition.


GOKE ILESANMI, Editor-in-Chief/CEO of https://www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng and Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, (Business) Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.

For business discussion, reach him on +234(0)8056030424; +234(0)8187499425

Email: info@gokeilesanmi.com.ng; gokeiles2010@gmail.com




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