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Can You Create a Better USP Than This One?

June 5th, 2009 by Bob Bly

A local furniture retailer here features his rather sleazy looking self and his cute little kid in a TV commercial where together they proclaim, smiling, “We have the BEST furniture!”

And that’s the whole of their sales pitch and unique selling proposition (USP) — that they have the best furniture.

Well, best may sound good — after all, everyone wants the best, right?

But as a USP or ad copy, it’s terribly weak and ineffective.

Why?

Two reasons.

First, EVERYBODY says they are the best — there’s no differentiation.

Second, the very fact that it’s the ADVERTISER saying he is the best creates immediate skepticism — the viewer does not believe it.

Can I give you an example of a stronger USP?

Sure.

Wonder Bread.

They wanted to say their white bread was the best — and their USP was: “Wonder Bread helps build strong bodies 12 ways.”

Memorable, different, unique, and with a benefit (“builds strong bodies”).

If someone asks you why they should buy from YOU instead of your competitors, and your answer is “because we are better” — you’d better come up with a stronger USP.

Or — do you have a better idea for gaining customers and building market share without a good USP?

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This entry was posted on Friday, June 5th, 2009 at 10:05 am and is filed under Advertising. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

23 responses about “Can You Create a Better USP Than This One?”

  1. dianacacy said:

    “Or — do you have a better idea for gaining customers and building market share without a good USP?”

    No…without utilizing a good USP in some fashion you get nothing, unless you live in a completely isolated community and you’re the only one who offers what you do. Even then…LOL

    If I lived there and I wanted to write for this guy, I’d go in and ask him a bunch of questions and see what about his furniture is unique…and show him what a USP is useful for. This owner needs a good copywriter to walk in and educate him before his sales kills his business.

    As long as the “sleazy looking self” isn’t a sign that he’s a cheat and selling inferior products, that is.

  2. Eric said:

    Catchy as the wonder bread slogan may be, it’s still a lie.

  3. Morgan said:

    Instead of, “We have the best furniture,” How about: “We have the best furniture selection available”?

  4. Bob Bly said:

    Eric: as I recall, the Wonder Bread USP was based on the fact that Wonder Bread contains 12 vitamins and minerals (e.g., vitamin D, magnesium, whatever) that are nutrients. Therefore, it did in fact build your body 12 ways. They never claimed that they were the only bread to have 12 vitamins and minerals (for all we know, other brands could have 15). They simply said 12 ways.

  5. Ken said:

    I can’t think of anything better than a good USP to set a business apart…in your example I guess you’d have to dig a little deeper to find what it is for them. It could be the process the furniture goes through while it’s being made, where the wood is sourced from, who knows?
    And we know from the famous Schlitz Beer example that it doesn’t have to be completely unique, just something the public doesn’t know about.

  6. Bob Bly said:

    Ken: correct. Rosser Reeves, creator of the USP, said the USP could either be something your competitors do not offer OR something they may have but DO NOT STRESS in their advertising — like your Schlitz example (beer so pure the bottles were washed in live steam).

  7. Philip McLean said:

    Bob – what’s their competition like? Because if all the furniture stores in the area have similar merchandise at similar prices, and they all run bland, USP-free ads, then the guy who runs his the most will at least have name recognition. You get the same thing with used-car dealers, whose TV spots (“OUR PRICES ARE INSANE!”) are the same nationwide.

  8. Bob Bly said:

    Philip: he runs a fair amount of TV spots but is not the heaviest local TV advertiser. Here in northern NJ that position goes to Bob’s Furniture, whose USP is the lowest prices and being the national furniture retailer of the year or something like that.

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  10. Eric said:

    Bob,

    Saying white bread builds strong bodies is something out of the Ministry of Truth from 1984. White bread is prole food scorned by nutritionists and missing from the diet of top strength athletes and bodybuilders.

    The synthetic vitamins added to white bread are less effective than vitamins derived from food sources or better yet, actual food.

    Charlie Munger’s words comes to mind: “if you mix raisins with turds, you still have turds.”

  11. Bob Bly said:

    Eric: You are missing the point of this discussion. It is not a question of do I think white bread is good or bad. The question is: if you work for Wonder Bread’s ad agency, and your job is to sell more Wonder Bread, which USP is more effective — (a) Wonder Bread builds strong bodies 12 ways or (b) Wonder Bread is the best bread?

    P.S. I personally do not eat white bread; my wife keeps only multi-grain in the house.

  12. Bob said:

    Eric: How about something like “Wonder Bread–fortified with 12 essential nutrients”. But I agree w/Bob, you are missing the point of the discussion–there are products like cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and the like that some are for and some are against–they are all for profit enterprises, they are all legal, they all need a USP.

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  14. Darren said:

    I agree with Ken’s comments about digging deeper. What is it about their furniture that makes them the best?

    Do they have the lowest price? Is it made of unique material?

    Maybe it’s not even the furniture, but an aspect of the company itself. Do they have interest-free financing? A 90-day no-questions-asked return policy?

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