What’s Your Training USP?

Most of us know, or can easily identify the basic steps of marketing, regardless of what your product is:

  1. Describe your company’s unique selling proposition (USP).
  2. Define your target market.
  3. Write down the benefits of your products or services.
  4. Describe how you will position your products or services.
  5. Define your marketing methods. Will you advertise, use internet marketing, direct marketing, or public relations.

So how can you differentiate your organization?

Having a USP seems relatively straight forward but does need a great deal of thought. What is UNIQUE about your offering? How many unique angles can training have?

As the head of training for a large organization in the region for almost two years, I have the advantage of knowing what it’s like to seek external training support. I have met with numerous training organizations and have to say that the majority offer the same services with little or nothing to differentiate themselves from the pack. So how can you stand out?

Having a unique selling proposition is all about finding your “competitive edge.” Put yourself in the shoes of your customers – what are they looking for and how can you fulfil their needs like no other company can?

A systematic approach will help you determine this and ensure you look at your competitors:

1. Understand your potential customer’s value.

First, brainstorm what customers value about your product or services, and value about your competitors. Move beyond the basics that are common to all suppliers in the industry and look at the criteria that customers use to decide which product or service to buy.

2. Rank yourself and your competitors by the discovered criteria.

Now, identify your top competitors. Being as objective as you can, score yourself and each of your competitors out of 10 for each characteristic. Where possible, base your scores on objective data. Where this isn’t possible, do your best to see things from a customer’s perspective and then make your best guess.

3. Identify where you rank highly.

Plot these points on a chart. This helps you spot your potential uniqueness.

The best USPs take a unique quality and explain how that quality will benefit your customers, all in a few memorable words. Many companies past and present use USPs as their slogans, so that they can put them in front of as many prospective customers as possible.

In fact, some of the best slogans of the past have used unique product qualities that no one would think were good selling points until they worked! Here are a few particularly great examples of Unique Selling Propositions.

Avis – We’re number two. We try harder.

This USP does a remarkable job of turning what seems like a negative quality into a benefit. For many years, Avis was in the unfortunate position of being the second-largest car rental company, while Hertz claimed the #1 spot.

In fact, Avis was having trouble just staying solvent. So, Avis decided it was time for a total image makeover and hired the famous ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach to come up with a new ad campaign that would pull the company out of its hole. The ‘We Try Harder’ campaign was so successful, Avis’ market share went from 11% to 35% in just four years.

M & Ms -The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.

This is an example of how even a quirky USP can attract customer interest. Who would think of making a selling point out of the fact that your product doesn’t melt when you hold it?

M&Ms did, and it worked very well for them. This goes to show that as long as a benefit is meaningful to prospective customers, it will be effective. In this case, the fact that the M&M candy shell keeps the chocolate inside from oozing out and dirtying your hands is a definite plus for customers.

Domino’s Pizza – You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.

This slogan is really too long to be catchy, but it’s still an excellent USP because it’s spells out a guarantee with perfect clarity. The terms of the deal are laid out so specifically that Dominoes customers know they can hold the company to it. Sadly, Domino’s no longer uses this slogan or offers this deal because it led to a series of car accidents when delivery drivers started driving like maniacs so that they could beat the thirty-minute limit.

After years of running my own businesses globally, I am a firm believer in spending the time and effort in getting a good USP that stands out, but more importantly that is relevant to your market and environment. In fact, my article next month– ‘Defining your target market’ – will assist in clarifying, defining and reinforcing your chosen USP.


Paula Jane Cox is a partner for Lumina Learning in the Middle East. She has over 18 years experience in consulting with leaders and decision-makers to improve business effectiveness, the bottom line and engaging employees on a global scale. Currently residing in the UAE.

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