Creating Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

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by Tom Watson on April 23, 2010

You Need To Be Unique

There is no point in being the same as everyone else. You need something that sets your cleaning business apart from your countless competitors. You need to create a difference that makes you the better choice.

One of the best ways to set yourself apart from the crowd is with your USP, which is your Unique Selling Proposition. A well conceived Unique Selling Proposition can achieve this for you.

You must be thinking that I am missing the mark. Shouldn’t just being the “best” cleaner be in and of itself good enough? The answer to that question is NO. The reason is “choice”. Consumers have more of it than they ever had before.

Need examples?

How about TV for starters? Thirty years ago you only had several choices for news, general programing or sports. How many do you have now? Hundreds with more on the way.

Next example is toothpaste (yes toothpaste). In the early seventies you had two main players, Crest and Colgate. At the time Colgate had only two versions. In the last several years they have had as many as nineteen! I don’t know what Crest has now but I’m sure it is along the same lines. This does not even take into account all the new toothpaste manufacturers that have entered the market.

Choice comes into play for the cleaning market as well.

Not only are there more cleaning companies than ever before, but consumers can find them faster than ever before. The Internet has totally changed the landscape. Choice is everywhere you look. It is not like the old days where you basically could hold your customer hostage because few choices were available. The customer back then had no choice but to suck it up because you were the “best available option”. Those days are over.

Nowadays you need to get inside the customers head planting the seed as to why they need your services. Why you are different and why changing to another provider will cost them what only you can offer. Your USP does that for you (along with your hard work to back it up).

So how do you do this?

You do this by running your own race. When your the only one running you are the only one who can win! You will do this by differentiating your service from all the others. Lets dig in further to get the ball rolling.

Before you can actually craft your own USP you need to understand the concept fully. A well designed unique selling proposition has three components.

  1. You need to explain “what’s in it for them” and “why should they choose you over a competitor”. You need to do this without wild claims, empty words or pretty pictures. This is no more than stating the specific benefits your service will give the customer.
  2. Your claim or benefit needs to be unique and must be something that your competitors don’t or can’t provide. To stand out you need to be the only cleaning company offering this benefit in your geographic area.
  3. Your benefit must be strong enough to make the customer act in your favor. It needs to be highly focused and convincing enough to make the customer feel as if you are the “right choice” for them.

To sum up what a USP does for you is to simply say your USP sells your cleaning service by separating (differentiating) you from the pack. Your USP should encapsulate the three elements above into a cohesive statement.

So this leads to the question “where do I get started?” First you need to ask yourself “what do my potential customers need and or expect from me? Getting a fix on that answer goes a long way towards getting the ball rolling.

Part One Of Your USP

Lets look at the first part of your USP, the “what’s in it for them” section. Ask yourself why they should use your service over everyone else and how will they benefit? You could talk about your shiny uniforms with company badges and environmentally safe cleaning solutions all day long with no luck. You need to turn those features into benefits.

How do you turn a uniform with a badge into a benefit? How about discussing “security”. Your staff becomes identifiable and more “safe” because people can tell at a glance who they are. The same concept works with just about any feature. You just need to drive home how the customer benefits from that particular feature.

One thing to keep in mind concerning turning features into benefits is that the benefit needs to be important to the customer. Safety is a factor that many are concerned with and that is why it makes for a good example as mentioned earlier. Other motivators for potential customers include having proper general liability insurance, providing workman’s compensation insurance, having employees bonded in case of theft, performing background checks on all staff and of course the quality of work you offer.

Part Two Of Your USP

Your claim or benefit needs to be unique and not currently available from your competitors. But don’t all cleaning companies do basically the same thing? Yes…they all do roughly the same thing. So how do we create a benefit is the question. You need to position your benefit as valuable in the customers mind.

Remember the toothpaste analogy I mentioned earlier? We will dig into that for a second. I think it is safe to say that all toothpaste fights cavities. Now with that being the case how do the toothpaste companies separate themselves from each other?

I know how one brand did.

I’m sure you do too. Which brand was known for fighting cavities? That is an easy one…Crest. Though both Crest and Colgate fought cavities Crest was known for fighting cavities. They better positioned themselves through the use of their USP (Look Ma, no cavities!) and reaped the benefits for it.

How does this apply to you?

To use the simple uniform example I mentioned earlier you could be known as the only cleaning company highly focused on security. Uniforms and badges would certainly set you apart from the rest of the pack, add in a mention of bonding all staff and performing background checks and you would solidify your claim as “a safe and secure company”.

Remember you would clean the same as every other cleaning company but you would be positioned in the marketplace as the cleaning company you can trust. See where I’m going with this?

Benefits can be created from many of the tasks we perform. You just need to be creative. Try to understand what it is the customer really wants then craft a benefit around that. For those customers needing security you would be their first option in the example we used earlier.

Part Three Of Your USP

Your benefit must be strong enough to make the customer act in your favor. This is the hardest part of the equation and where most Unique Selling Propositions fail. Did you make your benefit stand out enough to warrant the customer acting on it? In the uniform example we have been using the answer is probably a yes. Many companies are concerned with security and would value that benefit. It only takes one or two cases of theft before companies get highly motivated about security. If your known as the safe choice then you achieved your goal of differentiating yourself.

As you can see creating your USP is not as simple as just coming up with a catchy phrase. It takes some effort but getting it right will pay dividends for the life of your company. Try to create several Unique Selling Propositions to get the feel for the process. Then simply choose the one that best fits your company and go about making it you own. Use it on all your marketing materials and reap the benefits of all your hard work.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Linda m Silva February 12, 2013 at 9:27 am

Hi Tom,
Where dose one get the items for their Goodie bags? How much of items should you buy? do you have someplace you use,? and can share? Another question is one of the items in the goodie bag is a letter, at the bottom you have offering 50% off our first full month of cleaning to all new customers, can u please exsplain this to me, my husband james and i are new to this.
Thanks so much for your help
just got our flyers made(got 100) for now until we have more money.
take care James and Linda Silva
J&L Silva’s Office Cleaning

2 Tom Watson February 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Hi Linda! I purchased them from several different places. The bags I bought from a janitorial supply house, but they are hard to find. If you go to this post ( http://wp.me/pO3Aj-tv) you will find a link that tells you where to buy the bags REAL CHEAPLY.

I would only stock up on what you can afford to get. Don’t go nuts, but just remember that you need to give a lot out!!

When you are just starting out you need to GIVE PEOPLE A REASON to choose YOUR COMPANY. A 50% off offer helps CHANGE THEIR MIND and think of YOU. That’s why it’s a good idea. Some folks offer 25% or whatever, but just remember it needs to be a good offer they can’t refuse.

Best of luck and keep me posted (and touch base with any questions).

3 Zakiyyah Bryant December 29, 2014 at 5:44 pm

I got flyer made and I have advertise on YP and many other I have spent so much money but I am not getting anywhere don’t no what else to do can you please give me some advice. thanks

4 Tom Watson January 3, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Hi Zakiyyah! It would be best if you called me. Use the contact page number.

5 manya agarwal April 30, 2016 at 2:15 am

can tou tell me some innovative usp of shampoo

6 Tom Watson May 6, 2016 at 10:20 am

Hi Manya! My knowledge of USP for the toothpaste industry begins and ends with this article. Sorry I can’t help.

7 Adriana June 21, 2016 at 12:36 pm

This is very informative basic but valuable guidelines thanks for sharing

8 ian January 22, 2017 at 4:27 pm

thank you for such useful information

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