Mark Pollard, Managing Partner of Leo Burnett New York, positions Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) as the sixth step within the account planning process. He describes the USP as “the guts of your strategy” which “links and evolves the insight and brand truth in an interesting way” (Pollard, 2009). Pollard (2009) comments that the USP is not a tagline, however, it is a tool for the creative team to explore and create with clear direction of the brand’s position. Often, a tagline or slogan is created from the USP.
Queensland Government (2014) state that the significance of a strong USP is that it helps “to establish your competitive advantage – the edge you have over your competition.” Ascot (2011) explains the difficulty product and service companies have in differentiating themselves from their competitors by giving the example that when a potential customer wants to ship a package overnight, they have already decided to ship the package. The question is, “which shipping company?” This is where a strong USP is crucial, as it “defines the company’s position in the market” (Ascot, 2011), and gives the potential customer a clear understanding of why they should use that company.
One notable example of an impactful USP is Domino’s Pizza’s Proposition, which states: “made-to-order hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less – guaranteed” (Coleman & Prisco, 2006). What Coleman & Prisco (2006) note is clever about Domino’s USP is that no reference to the quality of the product is made. This set the pizza delivery company apart from its competitors, who traditionally advertised with a basic message that their pizza tastes best. Cheng (n.d.) explains that Domino’s USP is ultimately an operational proposition, where the entire company changed it’s operations in order to comply with this new proposition. The traditional dining areas were removed from Domino’s stores, and smaller spaces closer to residential areas were acquired to fit a kitchen in order for the timeframe aspect of the USP to be achievable.
Referring back to Pollard’s (2009) idea that the Proposition is composed of both the insight and brand truth, we can apply this to Domino’s USP. It is clear from Cheng’s (n.d.) article that Domino’s realised their pizza was not significantly different to any other pizza store in the area, so instead of focusing their USP on the product itself, they turned it to their service; delivery. This became a practical benefit to the potential customer; of which the targeted market segment slightly changed in a psychographic and behavioural way. Domino’s no longer sought out customers who wanted a dine-out experience, but those who didn’t have the time to cook or go out. It was then the concept of ‘time’ became the unique and motivating aspect of the brand truth; customers would get hot pizza in 30 minutes – guaranteed.
In essence, it’s significant to note that the multi-billion dollar company’s success can be attributed to Domino’s “deliberate decision to be operationally different from day one,” (Cheng, n.d.) which came from the changes required to fulfill their USP.
Ascot, D. (2011). How to develop a bulletproof Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – Part 1. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Marketing Results: https://www.marketingresults.com.au/blog/2011/12/16/how-to-develop-a-bulletproof-unique-selling-proposition-usp-part-1/
Cheng, V. (n.d.). Unique Selling Proposition vs. Market Differentiation. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Victor Cheng: http://www.victorcheng.com/unique-selling-proposition
Coleman, H. W., & Prisco, S. (2006). UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITIONS. (cover story). Electrical Wholesaling , 87 (11), 64-72.
Pollard, M. (2009). How to do account planning – a simple approach. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Mark Pollard: http://www.markpollard.net/how-to-do-account-planning-a-simple-approach/
Queensland Government. (2014). Create your unique selling proposition. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Business and Industry Portal: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/business/running/marketing/advertising/create-selling-proposition