As you and your team wrestles with decisions about dollars spent on promoting your company and its products, where should the emphasis be?
- Advertising using paid media in its many forms such as print, radio and television?
- Promotional items and corporate gifts that keep your company on the minds of existing and potential customers who will turn to you when they have a product or service need you can meet?
- Publicity on social media or an SEO-optimized blog on your website that offers value without making a sales pitch?
- Direct selling to your contacts using tools like email marketing, apps and social media?
- Personal selling when interacting directly with a customer in person, on the phone, through chat and other means?
The savvy marketer knows that the answer is “yes” to all or to at least a mix of those that make sense given the pool of potential customers on your radar.
Marketing that produces results is rarely an either/or proposition; it takes a both/and strategy. Therefore, rather than putting all your cash into one form, divvy it up among those that will be most attractive to the demographic ranges you’ve targeted.
Finding your USP
USP is shorthand for “unique selling proposition.” It is defined as that which is special about your product that “highlights the benefits which make this item better…than its competitors.”
The USP you develop for the goods and services you offer sets them apart from and elevate them above the competition. There are many ways to present your USP, but to illustrate, consider these memorable slogans that promote the unique selling proposition:
- De Beers: “A diamond is forever,” reminds you that other gift choices won’t last like a sparkly hunk of crystalline carbon will
- Wendy’s: “Where’s the beef?” A classic ad that ridicules the competition for skimping on meat
- Avis car rental: “We’re number two. We try harder.” They’ll provide the best service because they’re not complacent.
- Old Spice: “The man your man could smell like,” a tongue-in-cheek look at manly men who use Old Spice.
No doubt you could list ten more effective unique selling propositions from ads you’ve seen recently.
A marketing mix to highlight your USP
Once you are clear about the advantages your products offer, integrate your USP into your overall marketing strategy.
The list of marketing options above provides a good framework for fleshing this out.
Advertising using paid media:
Nike took sales from about $800 million in 1988 to more than $9 billion in 1998 with a huge boost from a phrase so iconic we don’t even have to mention it because you’re saying it in your head right now. Use paid media to put your products in front of people in a way that memorably highlights your USP. In this example, Nike promoting its products as the gear that helps people achieve their fitness goals.
Promotional items and corporate gifts:
The beauty of this marketing category is that there are items available at every price from cheap to luxurious. The range allows you to customize the promotional campaign. When you can find a novel way to use promotional products, they have a more lasting impact. For example, one chain of stores in the UK offered customers caught in the rain a branded umbrella they could return the next time they were nearby.
Here are other creative ways promotional and corporate giveaways have been used:
- A church in the United States handed out branded bottles of cold water during a parade on a hot summer day
- A Brazilian manufacturer of detergent gave away packets of its stain remover shaped like a ketchup splatter
- A Dutch automobile insurance company printed static paper with what looked like scratched paint that could be applied to cars along with the company’s contact information and the slogan, “We repair your damages as easily as you remove this sticker”
- A restaurant in Germany gives out small cups of soup to commuters waiting for the train on cold winter days
Publicity on social media or a blog:
This is where you give your followers something they can really use without primarily promoting your products. Let’s say you sell lighting products. Your content flow might include posts on how to properly light different spaces based on how they’re used, the cost benefits of LED lighting, automation and lighting and choosing lighting that fits your decorating style.
Direct selling to your contacts:
Your options here include using an automated email response to get attention and move readers toward a desired action or sending coupons via a phone app.
Anyone in your company that works in sales should be knowledgeable about your products and services and excited to share their benefits with others. They should also be continually developing their selling skills in order to optimize personal encounters.
Promoting your USP with creativity
If you’re not crystal clear on the unique selling proposition for your products and services, that’s the place to start. From there, tap into the myriad of marketing options that allows you to mix the right recipe for targeted outreach that is within your budget. Add a dash of creativity to each promotional effort – like cups of hot soup on cold days – and you’ll set your company apart in a way that fuels your success.
What has been your greatest success in promoting your USP? How has in impacted your business? Share your story in the comments below.