If you’ve ever paid close attention to 30-second commercials on TV, you’ve probably been exposed to a number of key selling propositions, also known as “unique selling propositions” (USP) or value propositions. These are bite-sized takeaways that communicate what value you’ll be getting from a certain product or service. With only 30 seconds to spare, it means big money for companies who get it right.
Take Geico for example.
Geico uses repetition in their USP to make it more memorable, with their famous slogan, “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.”
But behind the scenes, these value propositions often require a lot of thought, foresight, and brainstorming. That’s why we’re providing some guidance for CMOs on what it is, how to craft one, and how to communicate it.
A key selling proposition, also known as a unique selling proposition (USP), is a distinctive and compelling factor that sets a product, service, or brand apart from its competitors. It is the unique quality or benefit that persuades customers to choose one offering over others in the market.
Before we dive into why a KSP is important, a word of caution: business owners often confuse it with a slogan. However, there’s a crucial difference between the two.
To grasp the distinction, consider this company motto: “Elevating your business to new heights.”
While it may sound impressive, it falls short of a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). It fails to clearly communicate to potential customers the specific reasons why they should opt for your brand over others. When a statement brings up more questions than answers, you’re probably looking at a slogan or tagline––not a USP or KSP.
When done right, the key selling proposition (KSP) can achieve the following for businesses:
In a crowded marketplace, businesses must stand out from competitors. A strong KSP provides a unique and compelling reason for customers to choose one business over others. It helps create a distinct brand identity and positions the business as offering something valuable and different.
A well-defined KSP gives businesses a competitive edge. It highlights the specific benefits, features, or qualities that set the products or services apart. This advantage can attract customers who are seeking those particular attributes and can position the business as a preferred choice.
A clearly articulated KSP allows businesses to understand their target market and focus their marketing efforts effectively. By tailoring their messaging around the key selling points, businesses can attract and engage the right audience, increasing their chances of converting leads into customers.
A strong KSP helps businesses effectively communicate the value they offer to customers. It highlights the benefits, solves a problem, or fulfills a need, assuring customers that they are making a smart purchase decision. This value proposition builds trust and credibility, leading to customer loyalty and repeat business.
When businesses have a well-defined KSP, it guides their marketing strategies and messaging. It enables them to create targeted campaigns, optimize advertising efforts, and streamline their marketing resources. Having a clear focus helps businesses allocate their resources more efficiently and maximize their return on investment.
By understanding and effectively leveraging the KSP, businesses can gain a competitive advantage, attract their target audience, and drive success in the ever-changing landscape of marketing.
The Value Proposition Canvas was created by Alexander Osterwalder, a Swiss management consultant and author. He is the co-author of the book Business Model Generation, which introduced the Business Model Canvas, another popular business planning tool.
The Value Proposition Canvas is a visual tool that helps businesses understand the value they offer their customers. It is divided into two parts: Customer Segments and Value Propositions.
The Value Proposition Canvas can be used to:
The Value Proposition Canvas is a valuable tool for businesses of all sizes. It can help businesses understand their customers, differentiate themselves from the competition, and improve their value proposition.
We use the Value Proposition Canvas as part of our BrandDNA exercises to hone in on these and more elements to nail your value proposition.
The key components of the Value Proposition Canvas are Customer Jobs, Customer Pains, Customer Gains, and Value Proposition. These components help businesses understand the needs of their ideal customer and how their products or services can meet those needs.
Here is a more detailed explanation of each component and how finding “fit” between the two is where your value proposition will shine.
On the Customer Segment Side:
On the Value Proposition (Your) Side:
Once your value proposition canvas is completed, there should be a strong match between all components. If there isn’t, your unique selling proposition may be unclear and should be revised.
Creating a strong Key Selling Proposition (KSP) involves a systematic approach that includes the following key components:
In our experience, it’s best to start by defining the Customer’s Job, moving on to their Pains, and then their Gains.
Similarly, when you start the other side of the value map, start with how your Products & Services help customers do their jobs better. Then move on to how your offerings relieve pains and create gains.
Like any form of branding, success takes careful thought and time. Your key selling proposition is not something to rush. With the amount of content and competition out there, it’s important that customers understand clearly what your value proposition is. The brain is bombarded with thousands of messages each day, and our attention spans are shrinking––leaving customers more prone to disengage from marketing messages that aren’t clear.
In fact, studies have shown that between 2000 and 2015, our attention spans shrank by a whopping 25%.
An unclear, muddled, or open-ended selling proposition can spell disaster for brand awareness and sales. Here are some of the most common mistakes companies make while defining their KSP:
One thing you never want to do is let your competitors define you. The point of sitting down and formulating a key selling proposition isn’t to check a box or get it over with, but to carefully consider whether you can provide material value to customers.
Part of what we do during our BrandDNA workshops and exercises is to peel the layers of your brand back and start at the roots to help you define who you are and what value you bring.
With our BrandDNA workshops you can uncover:
If you need to establish consistent branding to drive sales, our BrandDNA workshops can help. BrandDNA is the ultimate guide to help companies develop a clear and cohesive brand identity, aligning your brand with your business objectives, crafting consistent messaging, and increasing brand awareness and loyalty. It will help your business streamline its operations and drive consistent growth.
Contact us today to learn more about how our BrandDNA exercises can help you achieve your business goals.