6 steps to creating a unique selling proposition (and why you need one)
By Justin R. Brown
When you make a sales call, what do you think is going to be the one thing that convinces your prospect to purchase an insurance policy from you rather than the next guy? No, it’s not going to be that free gift you are giving away, or the snappy shirt you are wearing, (although those things may not hurt). It will be the unique selling proposition you offer.
A unique selling proposition (USP) is a differentiation that sets you apart from the competition. According to Theodore Levitt, a professor at Harvard Business School, “Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.”
You may be thinking to yourself, “I’ve already put that information in my mission statement.” But consider this: While a mission statement shows your direction and purpose, a USP shows why clients should connect with you — how your business services benefit your clients more than those of your competition. Bottom line, a USP is a powerful marketing tool when combined with a mission statement.
Here are six steps to creating a USP that will work for you:
1. Describe your target audience, and be as specific as possible. As an insurance agent, you may be tempted to consider your target audience as all adults in the communities you serve, but maybe a better target audience would be all homeowners in a particular group of zip codes, all business owners whose properties are in strip malls, or all motorcycle owners in the geographic area you serve.
From there, you can look at more specific demographics that include age, property values, proximity, lifestyle, etc. — anything that helps you define the ideal customer to formulate a model. Though there is no action associated with this first tip, it is the foundation of your USP. By defining your audience, you will know where to place your effort more strategically in the next several steps.
2. Explain the problem you solve. What is the individual need or challenge your clients face that your business can solve for them? Some possible areas of specialty could include: offering auto insurance for a high-end luxury vehicle, enabling access to information about their policies 24/7, or providing quotes on demand.
This can also be posed as a question to your clients. By asking them, you'll learn where your products and services fit best.
3. List the biggest distinctive benefits your company offers. In other words, what sets you apart from the competition? Perhaps you offer weekend office hours, 24-hour phone coverage with an agent available to answer specific questions, monthly gas card giveaways to customers and prospects who engage with you on your Facebook page, or deep discounts for people who take out multiple policies with your company. 4. Define your promise. Make a pledge to your clients and put it in writing. If they see a written policy or takeaway that you can or will provide, the chances are good that they will have a better customer experience purely from an engagement perspective.
5. Combine and rework. Once you’ve completed steps one through four, take all the information you’ve written down and combine it into a single paragraph. There should be some recurring themes and ideas that will guide you. As you develop this paragraph, put yourself in the customers' shoes. Have someone else read it to you, if it helps.
6. Cut it down. In this step, take the paragraph you developed in step five and cut it down. You want your USP to be as specific as possible for each client. This is where trial and error can help. And if you end up creating a great USP that covers most clients, make it a plaque and put it on your desk. After all this is your unique selling proposition, and one you will need to stand behind.
Once you’ve developed your USP, scream it from the rooftops, publish it on your website and in flyers you hand out, and advertise the statement in the newspaper, on the radio and on TV. Over time, awareness will increase and when people need the services you specialize in, they will know to come to you.