The Value of a Unique Value Proposition

The idea of a unique selling proposition isn’t new or unique. According to Wikipedia, the term was coined in the 1940s. More than seven years ago I wrote about it. Here’s a bit:

    What simple statement about your business or brand — just a quick, clear sentence or two at most — tells your prospects that you are the only alternative for them? Sounds like a response should just jump out at you. Yet most businesses (on- and offline) cannot provide an answer that simply rolls off their tongues or, even more appropriately in the case of e-commerce, appears on their home pages.

    By USP, or unique selling proposition, I don’t mean a slogan or a phrase that will appear in your advertising, although that’s one potential use for it. Rather I mean the concise and memorable phrase that answers your prospect’s always-implicit question, “Why should I do business with you and not somebody else?”

A unique selling proposition is mucho importante. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Linda Bustos, an e-commerce consultant at the Get Elastic blog wrote:

    Why should your ideal customer purchase from you rather than from anybody else?

    I would even go so far as to ask yourself, what one thing about your company, your product selection, your customer service or your customer loyalty is so compelling, that even if a product was out of stock, or some functionality were broken on your site, a customer would stick around and buy something?

    The folks at Marketing Experiments believe so strongly in the importance of the clarity of the value proposition that Dr. Flint McGlaughlin was bold enough to say if you get your value proposition right, you can get many other things wrong on your landing pages and still improve conversion dramatically.

Several years ago at our company, we adjusted the term a bit by replacing “selling” with “value.” What we didn’t change was our work with clients, helping them clarify or even create a unique value proposition for use on their site (among hundreds of other factors).

I was reminded of this recently when our newest conversion analyst and one of his clients turned in their most recent optimization success story. A single test on this client’s unique value proposition increased overall conversion rate by 33.8 percent. What did this client do that worked so well? It hired a good writer (at our suggestion) who wrote several suggested unique value propositions, as this company didn’t have one at all. Then we tested the several unique value propositions, until we had a clear winner. Not only did our client see a conversion rate increase, it gained customer insight that can be used to optimize other site areas.

Every Landing Page Needs One

In recent years, I’ve even started suggesting clients use unique campaign propositions (UCP). These are meant to reinforce your offer from banner ad or PPC (define) campaigns by enhancing the landing-page scent. When visitors take their precious eight-second first impression, you want them to know why they should buy from you and not your competitors.

Strengthen Your Unique Value Proposition

Creating a unique value or campaign proposition isn’t for chumps or posers. Your value proposition must be clear, relevant, and easy to understand. Here’s a quick, easy process for writing a more powerful unique value proposition:

  • Ask your personas what they value most about your product/service/campaign; make a list. (If you don’t have personas, you can ask a few dozen of your most faithful customers. Yes, you can ask both if you want).

  • On your list, look for repeating themes and list those separately.
  • Hand the list to a good writer. Ask that person to write 5 to 10 versions of a potential unique value proposition based on the list.
  • Test three to five of the most promising unique value propositions.
  • Pick the best-performing unique value proposition.

How strong is your unique value proposition? It could be the key to a better conversion rate.

Meet Bryan at Search Engine Strategies Chicago December 8-12 at the Chicago Hilton. The only major search marketing conference and expo in the Midwest will be packed with 60-plus sessions, multiple keynotes and Orion Strategy sessions, exhibitors, networking events, and more.

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