A Positioning Strategy Must Answer This Question: Why would I buy from you?

Guest Post by John Jantsch

Answering the question above is the greatest marketing challenge facing the small business. Why would I buy from you is what your clients and potential clients constantly ask themselves when considering a purchase. Of course what they are really asking is “what’s in it for me”

The best answer to this dilemma is something known in marketing circles as your USP. The term USP has been around for a long time. The idea here is to identify and then communicate a concise statement of your firm’s most compelling offer and benefit in a way that the potential client can automatically answer the what’s in it for me question. That’s all a USP is.

Most everyone is familiar with the original Fedex USP. On time every time or it’s free. At the time this offer was very unique in the shipping industry and literally built the company based on communicating this unique selling proposition. So what’s your compelling offer? What can you do and offer that no one else in your industry can offer?

Most consumers view small businesses like commodities. The feeling is that one accountant is like another or that one attorney can get the same result as another. The problem is that most marketers do nothing to expel that perception. “Buy from us because we’ve been in business for 20 years,” or “we’re dependable,” go the slogans of many small businesses.

Of course the fact that you are dependable, carry a full line of products, offer fair pricing, or are honest are expectations…they are not points of differentiation. An effective USP communicates your firm’s unique ability to fill an obvious void in the marketplace. The USP shows your target market how your firm is uniquely qualified to solve their pain or increase their gain. A USP can be your firm’s single most powerful marketing weapon.

How to craft your USP

To craft a USP for your firm first make a list of all the benefits of doing business with your firm. Don’t leave anything out. Then cut the list down with these guidelines.

  1. What things on your list are unique versus your direct competitors?
  2. Which of these benefits is most important to your clients?
  3. Which of these would be difficult for other’s in your industry to copy?
  4. Which of these can be easily communicated?

From this set of guidelines you should be able to narrow your search to the top one or two benefits of doing business with your firm. From there it is simply a matter of injecting this
chief benefit or USP into everything that you do. Craft headlines that promote your USP, put a USP statement on your stationary and business cards, build your USP into all of your sales presentations.

The ultimate goal is to become known to the market as whatever your USP promotes.

One final word of warning. You must deliver on the big promise communicated in your USP. Failure to do so may actually do more harm than drifting along without any marketing focus.


John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer; Sell Like a Superstar and Duct Tape Marketing: The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine (Portfolio: May 15, 2014). He is the founder of Duct Tape Marketing.


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