They produce amazing high quality courses. Their USP: Get the best in the world to teach a class on their craft.
Serena Williams teaches tennis. Usher teaches performance. James Patterson teaches writing. Dustin Hoffman teaches acting.
And this weekend they gave me early access to Kevin Spacey’s Masterclass on acting.
So, how does this relate to marketing?
Well, I happen to have purchased both Dustin Hoffman’s and Kevin Spacey’s acting Masterclasses…
Weird thing is, I’ve never felt the calling to become an actor — ever. Getting up on stage, pretending to be someone I’m not, scares the bejesus out of me.
But learning about acting from Dustin Hoffman? Kevin Spacey?!
I couldn’t help myself!
I eagerly purchased both courses, for two reasons:
I believe you can always learn something from the best about how they approach their craft.
There is no other place in the world I can learn from these two masters.
Let’s structure USP question and statement:
“If I’m a student who wants to learn about acting, why should I buy Kevin Spacey’s Masterclass on acting, rather than any other acting course?”
“… because it’s the only information product on acting that will ever be instructed by Kevin Spacey, one of the world’s greatest actors”
There’s onlyone Kevin Spacey.
And chances of him (or Dustin Hoffman) ever doing another acting course are pretty slim.
Which means his Masterclass is going to be the only acting course he ever releases.
That’s a powerful USP.
When you have former engineer, turned copywriter (who can’t even keep a pokerface while playing cards with his 8yr old niece), buying acting courses… it’s a prime example of the “Powerful Only Factor” in effect.
For those of you who don’t know Deadpool, he’s Marvel’s greatest (and funniest) anti-hero.
He’s known as “The Merc with a mouth”.
And it’s his mouth (in part) that’s responsible for his first movie breaking all sorts of box office records in the past week.
(Just when everyone thought we were getting sick of those Marvel comic book movies, eh?)
Let me explain…
Well, Hollywood deez dayz makes sure comic book movies are PG rated, so you can bring the kids along.
Gotta chase dat family dollar, right?
Deadpool though, is anything BUT suitable for kids.
In fact, the marketing campaign for the movie went out of it’s way to CLEARLY message,
“This isn’t your standard hero movie – DO NOT BRING YOUR KIDS!”
We’re talking swearing, in-appropriate sexual & social references, nudity, sex, blood, guts, and all sorts of hilariously offensive one-liners you DO NOT want your kids repeating anywhere in public…
… you know — all the good stuff you actually want to see in a movie.
Let’s map out the Value Prop question and USP statement quickly…
“If I’m a cinema go-er who wants to see a movie, why should I go and see Deadpool, rather than any other movie that’s out these days?”
“… because Deadpool is the first Marvel movie that’s not for kids. Like, seriously – don’t bring them.“
This creates a phenomenal USP for the movie because it creates massive expectation.
There’s a bunch of other geeky sub-USPs for comic book nerds — which I won’t go into. But all you need to recognize is that for the mass market of Marvel movie goers, this USP hits that sweet spot of Appeal and Exclusivity.
As long as the product delivers an entertaining experience for folks lashing out the cash, then it has that magic combination of:
A USP people want
A USP being delivered in force
When these two start bubbling up together in the mixing pot of the market, that’s when rave reviews start flying around and word-of-mouth starts moving feet.
Now, exactly how long Deadpool’s Appeal and Exclusivity last, is another question…
My guess though, is that when you’re breaking box office records today, it’s a question you can afford to answer tomorrow.
PS – If you’re looking to break your own personal sales records, let’s talk about how to turn your USP into a hero here:
Back when I was working in B2B Software Marketing, I had a pretty hefty commute. We’re talking about an hour and a half each way. Every day.
My mode of transport?
(Bus. Metro. Walk.)
Where I worked was also a pretty dispersed area, meaning you needed a car to get anywhere.
If you wanted to get something for lunch, your choices were stuffed unless you scored a ride with someone else from the office to hit a food court.
A good buddy of mine though, lived in the hood.
We had worked at the same company a few years before — only he had the sense to get out and work for himself long before I did.
To stay in touch, we’d regularly go for bro-unch.
Luckily, he had a car. Which meant there were approximately 6 breakfast joints within striking distance whenever we wanted to get some mid-day grub in.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty big fan of brunch.
I take it seriously.
I don’t settle for any old slop.
Anytime I’m going in, it’s basically for late breakfast. I’m not one of those weirdos who orders from the lunch menu when brunch is on the cards.
(If this is you, please take a long hard look in the mirror.)
I’m talking bacon, eggs, potatoes, sausages and toast.
With a cuppa tea.
Like most normal people, right?
Now, if you possess my crazy engineering counting skills, you’ll agree that’s 6 components to the standard breakfast.
If you factor in other components that determine a good eating experience — like travel time, wait time, service, & cost — that’s a nice round 10 components to consider before choosing which breakfast to eat.
That’s a lot of things playing into the equation.
And that’s how most business owners see their businesses.
A bunch of service or product components, all playing a big role in how customers perceive them.
But in reality, there was only 1 component — above all others — that factored into where we’d go each time:
How good the breakfast potatoes were.
Finely cooked spuds were reason numero uno in determining whether we’d be haunting your doorway, or ghosting out the back door.
Out of the 6 places that were potentially on the cards each week, we’d only visit 2 of them.
Both had amazing breakfast potatoes.
One place specialized in a mashy type of shpud. The other specialized in a crispy type.
We both preferred the mashy type, which meant that 80% of the time, we went to one restaurant.
What’s interesting is this: the place we frequented the most was the furthest, most expensive, and had the longest waiting times.
3 exclusive claims. None very appealing.
But the magnitude of the appeal behind the one key decision factor was enough to overwrite everything else.
It’s funny, because we used to visit a third place on rotation — until they changed ownership. The genius new owners decided it would be a good idea to mess with one vital part of the menu.
You guessed it: the breakfast potatoes.
(Their business has since almost tanked.)
So, how does this apply to your business?
Well, consider this…
Another restaurant in the same area could have gone out of it’s way to get the best bacon, the best toast and the best eggs. Even after all that work, it STILL wouldn’t have made any difference in influencing our decision.
Remember: You always have to look at your business with customer logic.
Amping up the exclusivity in secondary claims of value isn’t nearly as powerful as nailing the appeal for what the customer REALLY wants.
I call this “The Breakfast Potatoes Theory” to USPs.
Figure out what your breakfast potatoes are. And make them exclusively the best in one dimension.
If you’d like to chat about identifying what the breakfast potatoes are in your customer’s world, hop on over to the link below and book some time to chat:
At the end of 2015 I spent 3 weeks at home in Ireland for Christmas.
‘Twas my first time home for Christmas in 5 years. That’s a looooong bloody time. So long, I almost forgot how good the Guinness tastes back home.
It’s pretty well known around the world that we Irish like our drink.
And if we’re known for one drink, more than any other, it’s Guinness.
“The Creamy Black Stuff”, as it’s fondly known.
Our international reputation as surprisingly functional alcoholics means many a person will instantly up their drinking game the second they come into contact with an Irish person.
Or the second they step into an Irish bar.
It’s a weird phenomenon to witness, but, all of a sudden, when you’re within striking distance of anything Irish, it’s party time!
Thing is, Guinness is a strange drink for most people.
It’s technically a stout. And stouts aren’t all that popular or common in comparison to other beers. Mainly because they’re heavy and can taste a bit manky if you’re not used to them.
But that doesn’t stop folks from ordering them in a right snappy fashion the second they find themselves in Irish territory!
“Sure, I’ll try one of those — when in Rome, eh?”
Why is it that?
Well, it’s because to “foreigners”, Guinness is the most Irish drink they know.
So when they’re deciding to live a little — enjoying the brief spark of joy in that small Irish moment — it’s the obvious choice.
(And it’s no wonder – Guinness’s marketing is amazing. But that’s a story for another day.)
‘Tis a different story in Ireland. When you go to order stout on the Emerald Isle, there are 3 main options you’ll be greeted with:
Beamish is about 50c cheaper per pint.
So, the answer to it’s Value Proposition Question:
“If I want a pint of stout, why should I buy Beamish, rather than any of it’s competitors?”
“… because Beamish is the cheapest Irish stout, so you can get more pints in for your 20 euro”
A simple, yet very effective Unique Selling Proposition.
Beamish though, happens to taste like absolute muck.
So, if you’re any sort of a self respecting human being, you really only have two remaining options.
Now, I come from a place in Ireland called County Cork.
Cork is a fiercely proud part of Ireland, where the local population have a reputation for thinking we’re better than everyone else.
Murphy’s also happens to be made in Cork.
So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a lot of people in Cork will choose Murphy’s over Guinness, simply because it’s made in Cork.
Because “Made in Cork” is a claim that’s both Appealing and Exclusive to the regular Corkonian. In many corners, that’s reason enough for Murphy’s to be chosen.
“But, Ross — tell us — which tastes better?”
“And is it possible to tell the difference if your life (or reputation) depended on it?”
Believe it or not, this conversation came up over Christmas.
Logically, the only way to arrive at the answer was to thrown down in public, with the Irish equivalent of the “Pepsi-Coke Challenge”…
“The Guinness-Murphy’s Challenge”
The One Drink To Rule Them All
(Or make you look a little foolish in front of your friends)
The rules are simple.
You have to blind taste 2 pints of stout, which are handed to you by the group.
Either time, it can be Guinness or Murphy’s.
There’s no guarantee you’ll get both drinks.
Each contestant must correctly identify which drink is which.
As an Irish person, the stakes in this game are high.
We’re a tricky people, so not only do you have figure out which drink is which, but you have to figure out if your friends are trying to fool you.
Not being able to identify your preferred choice would mean opening the door to a brutal slagging from everyone else in the bar.
The Guinness Murphy’s Challenge – Correctly identify which stout is which, or suffer a serious dose of holy mortification (If you look closely in the picture in the bottom left, my friends handed me a glass of water. They weren’t fooling anyone).
Of the 5 people who took part, 2 got it wrong. Which means they called their own choice o’drink by the other brand’s name.
“Mortified for your mother!”
So, even though they couldn’t tell the difference in taste, they still had their reasons for choosing.
Takeaway: Your Unique Selling Proposition, why people choose you, isn’t always about your product. No matter how much you want that to be the case.
If you’d like to chat about the factors that go into why people choose you, your product, or your company, click the link below.
We can organize a quiet, friendly chat — like we’re just down the pub:
This, ultimately, was for just 13 seconds of wild entertainment.
That comes out to about $230 per second.
Now, you might think that seems like a lot. And, I’ll be honest, it is. But would you think I’m crazy if I told you I’d spend it again in a heartbeat?
Of course, the location of this manic spending was none other than Las Vegas.
The event: UFC 194.
The biggest fight night of the year.
Where my fellow Irishman, Conor McGregor, would face off against the reigning, defending, undefeated, featherweight champion of the world:
In the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), there hadn’t been another fight as hyped as this fight. After being built up with an extensive marketing push for over a year, including 2 world tours and a reschedule due to injury, the fight was finally happening. Just in time to ring out the end of 2015.
For the company running the show — the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) — this was expected to be their biggest payday, ever.
And it was BONKERS.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Vegas.
Before last July — when I first went to see McGregor fight — I’d never been.
I’d only heard whispers through friends of the absolute madness that went on there — be it for stag parties, lads’ weekends or good ol’ conference “networking”.
The funny thing was, while I was there, the whole of Sin City acted like they’d never seen the Irish before.
To be honest, Vegas didn’t know what hit it.
The town was Green.
We’re a funny people, the Irish. If there’s one thing we do, it’s leave an impression.
And Vegas didn’t quite know what to do with 10,000 Irish fight fans cheering, chanting, and singing our boy to victory.
Conor McGregor — for those of you who don’t know him — is a brash, cocky, loudmouthed showman. He’s also the biggest star in the UFC, who has catapulted himself to international fame by doing two things:
1) Saying what he’s going to do — loudly, proudly, and with sugar coating on it.
2) Going out and doing exactly what he said he was going to do.
So, when he said he was going knock out Jose Aldo — who hadn’t been beaten in 10 years — there were a lot of folks doubting him.
To stir the pot even further (as we Irish like to do) Conor confidently predicted he was going to put his opponent away within 1 round (a humiliating defeat).
Something that had never done to Jose. Ever.
So, when Conor knocked Jose out with his first punch — 13 seconds into the fight — the reaction of the entire arena was electric.
The Irish fans screamed with delight, overtaken with the adrenaline fuelled joy.
The doubters sat there, slack jawed in disbelief, crumpling their useless betting slips between their white knuckles.
And the rest of the crowd just stood and cheered because of the sheer brilliance of the performance.
There wasn’t a single person who didn’t care about the result in the building.
Everyone had chosen a side.
Everyone was invested in the result.
Because Conor McGregor is a master of marketing.
He’s a man who has crafted many Unique Selling Propositions for himself. He has given everyone who comes across him a compelling reason to choose him.
Each one differs, depending on who his ideal customer is.
For the 10,000 Irish Fans there, they chose to follow Conor McGregor because he’s the first ever successful Irish UFC Fighter
For the doubters, they chose to follow Conor McGregor because they wanted to be there when finally got defeated.
And for all the rest, they chose to follow Conor McGregor because he’s the most boldest and most exciting fighter in mixed martial arts today.
That’s why, while I was spending $250 per second to watch the fight, Conor was earning $1.3 million PER SECOND during that exact same time.
(His earnings were about $16 million for the whole event.)
Not bad work if you can find it, eh?
If you’d like to get a better handle on your USP — and nail down exactly why your customers should choose you — head on over to this link and let’s get ready to rumble:
ne of the things I love to do most is help people get clear on their USP. And one of the things people working on their USP love to do most is get ahead of themselves.
But no judging here – it’s only natural!
Let me explain…
Every business owner, entrepreneur or product creator get excited when starting to talk about our products.
As a prime example of this, a business owner recently sent me their “USP in the making”, looking for feedback on their first attempt (after using my USP Builder’s Toolset).
My first impression was, “Fantastic! It’s great to see someone motivated enough to take action.”
Especially on improving their USP — which IMO is one of the most worthwhile things a business owner can spend their time on.
USP Crafting Case Study
Overall, he’d done a great job on thinking through the claims of value his product — in this case, a supplement.
As I told him, “This is more than most business owners do these days.”
(Something that was blatantly revealed to me in a conversation I recently had with a restaurant owner – but anyway, back to the point…)
Let’s start by taking a look at what he shared:
My Moringa Capsules USP below
…because [Product Name] is the only company to offer “Fresh Caps”, a vegan tapioca based capsule providing the best oxygen barrier properties, which means optimal freshness and absorption every time. We want our customers to get the most out of our “Ultra fine”, “Minimal Processed” Moringa powder by using “Fresh Caps”.
Not a bad start. Notice how the USP is starting with a “because” and has exclusivity.
This is a great way to start your thinking.
If you get just this alone, you’re already miles ahead of your competition.
He expanded on this by adding:
My USP is based off of the type of capsule I use. I was told by my manufacturer that this is a new capsule on the market so I thought I emphasize this feature to separate myself.
The “ultra fine” (feature) isn’t that exclusive but most companies don’t mention it.
The minimal processed part isn’t that exclusive either but again no one mentions it.
Other USP we could use:
– Hawaii based
– Premium Grade
– I do grow Moringa on my land (I don’t process my own powder yet though) but I am a Moringa farmer.
So, it’s clear he’s done a great job at looking for what’s exclusive.
He’s also done a great job of identifying what his competitors aren’t saying.
“Back in the day….”
Notice though, that he’s skeptical about using claims that are not technically exclusive.
This echoes back to the classic “Schlitz Beer” case study, which Claude Hopkins talks about in Scientific Advertising:
WTF – What were people thinking in the 1900s?
Wait, no… sorry. Not that embarrassing, gender-role reinforcing trash.
In commodity markets, most products aren’t unique in the eyes of the customer – but how you sell them can be.
In the early 1900s, Schlitz were trailing 5th in the US beer market.
They hired Claude Hopkins — one of the father’s of modern advertising — to shake things up.
He tells the brief story in his book “My Life in Advertising”.
All brewers at that time were crying “Pure”. They put the word “Pure” in larger letters.
Their claim made about as much impression on people as water makes on a duck.
I went to brewing school to learn the science of brewing, but that helped not at all. Then I went to the brewery.
I saw plate-glass rooms where beer was dripping over pipes, and I asked the reason for them. They told me those rooms were filled with filtered air, so the beer could be cooled in purity.
I saw great filters filled with wood pulp. They explained how that filtered the beer.
They showed me how they cleaned every pump and pipe, twice daily, to avoid contaminations. How every bottle was cleaned four times by machinery.
They showed me artesian wells, where they went 4,000 feet deep for pure water, though their brewery was on Lake Michigan.
They showed me the vats where beer was aged for six months before it went out to the user.
They took me to their laboratory and showed me the original mother yeast cell. It had been developed by 1,200 experiments to bring out the utmost in flavor.
All of the yeast used in making Schlitz Beer was developed from that original cell.
I came back to the office amazed. I said: “Why don’t you tell people those things? Why do you merely try to cry louder than others that your beer is pure? Why don’t you tell the reasons?”
“Why,” they said, “the processes we use are just the same as others use. No one can make good beer without them.”
“But,” I replied, “others have never told the story. It amazes everyone who goes through your brewery. It will startle everyone in print.”
So I pictured in print those plate-glass rooms and every other factor in purity. I told a story common to all good brewers, but a story which had never been told. I gave purity a meaning.
Within a few months, Schlitz accelerated into first position in their highly competitive market.
Because Hopkins found what was appealing and was the first to start talking about it in detail, making it exclusive.
So, the first lesson here is:
Unique doesn’t have to mean unique. I just has to mean unique in the eyes of the customer.
Now, if you look at what’s going on in the original USP statement at the top of this post, there are a few things worth highlighting.
Build with Purpose
But for the rest of this article, I’m just going to focus on the most common mistake people make while building their first USP:
They don’t define the Value Proposition Question:
If I am your ideal customer, why should I buy from you, rather than any of your competitors?
A well phrased question will open a lot of doors for you — producing 10x the impact of a poorly phrased one.
Let’s analyze the USP above using the 3 parts of the “Value Proposition Question”
If I am your ideal customer…
From the USP we’re talking about, can you tell who the ideal customer is?
This may not seem important while crafting your initial USP, but it’s a crucial thinking tool to allow you to see if you’re on the right track.
If you don’t know whose perspective the decision is being made from, it’s hard to determine what they’ll find appealing.
The biggest cause of this is that people don’t want to “exclude” anyone from their marketing.
They feel that if they build a USP specific to only one segment of their market, then they’ll hurt their sales.
The problem with this thinking is that if you try to compel everyone, you’ll end up diluting your appeal.
Why should I choose you/option A…
From our example, can you tell what the person is looking for?
The takeaway here is that if you’re not using the prospect’s clearly defined “selection criteria”, it’s impossible to think about how they’ll make a choice.
Our product for this example is a supplement.
But is that what the customer is looking for?
Or is it nutritional powder? Or “Moringa capsules”?
With each of these possibilities, it means a different Value Proposition Question. And each of those questions can lead to dramatically different USPs.
Rather than any of your competitors…
What are the other options available to prospect?
Being able to determine “The Powerful Only Factor” can be challenging. And that’s because it all comes down to understanding what you’re going up against.
You need to understand the Selection Field — the environment from which the choice is being made.
Without being aware of what else is in your Selection Field, you won’t be able to tell what makes your option stand out.
Which option stands out for Choice 1? And which stands out for Choice 2? How does Option B perform in in both? Understanding this concept shows you the powerful role the “Selection Field” plays in a choice being made.
Again, like I’ve mentioned before, the Value Proposition Question is deceivingly simple.
The best way to make sure your USP is on point, is to clearly define the Value Proposition Questionfrom the perspective of a customer.
It’s very easy for the business owner to overlook this step and simply dive into what’s great about their product.
That’s the fun part, right?
The problem is that it’s natural to think “all of these things are valuable to my customer”
But, who specifically is your customer?
And what specifically are they looking for?
And what specifically are the other choices they have in mind?
This is territory most business owners haven’t explored before.
The Value Proposition Question in action
If you’re going through the USP Building Exercise thinking “maybe this would be appealing”, then you are approaching it wrong.
Let’s take a look about how to do it correctly, with an example: Kevin Roger’s Copy Chief.
This is a great example because his market has clearly defined customer avatars that are easy to understand.
Copy Chief is a online community where business owners and copywriters can come together.
The idea behind the community is everyone can develop their marketing skills, get to know each other, bridge the professional gap between copywriters and business owners — and increase conversions for everyone across the board.
Therefore, Copy Chief has 2 main ideal customers:
Business owners wanting to improve their copy
Freelancers wanting to grow their business
How Copy Chief answer the Value Proposition Question for each of these ideal customers will determine whether they choose to join.
If there was a single “mish-mashed” answer given for both groups, it would be nowhere near as appealing as giving a single specific reason to each group.
The answer to “If I am an online business owner who is looking to improve their copy skills, why should I join Copy Chief, rather than any other online marketing community?”
… is going to be very different to…
“If I am freelance copywriter who wants to grow their freelance business, why should I join Copy Chief, rather than any other online marketing community?”
What sparks the interest of a business owner — say, “learning how to write your own basic sales copy in 30 days, without needing to spend a fortune” — may not appeal to a freelancer.
And vice versa.
The “Selection Field” in action
But now let’s get even more specific.
Notice the Selection Field above is “online marketing community”.
How would the answers to those Value Proposition Questions change if we switched the Selection Field to “copywriting community”
What is the difference between an online marketing community and a copywriting community?
They may exist in the same domain, but small changes to the Selection Field can mean a big difference to what your “Powerful Only Factor” is.
For example, if Copy Chief needs to be selected versus Ryan Deiss’s Digital Marketers Labs, or Ryan Levesque’s Next Level Mastermind as an online marketing community, there are specific things that need to be said to show it’s exclusive appeal.
And this will vary greatly if it’s being positioned against copywriting communities like John Carlton’s Marketing Rebel Insider’s Club, or Colin Theriot’s The Cult of Copy.
Remember: the two qualities you need to craft into your USP are Appeal and Exclusivity.
How you infuse your product with Appeal will depend on what the person is LOOKING for.
And what you need to STAND OUT will depend largely on where they are looking.
“The Powerful Only Factor” is achieved when you can combine the two.
The main takeaway here is that listing your top 10 claims of value is just the beginning.
Scoring them will not just depend on what’s appealing for the customer.
So, to guarantee that your USP is as powerful as possible, you need to start by crafting your Value Proposition Question.
Below I’ve laid out 4 simple action steps to get you on the right path to correct your question for maximum results.
Identify what your ideal customer is – One formula you can use to define this correctly is: “If I am a _____ that wants to __________”
Identify the “option” you are creating your USP for – is it for your company, your product or your personal USP? Specifically define the category it belongs to.
Identify the Selection Field that your target customer is choosing from. What are they looking for? Where are they looking? What is the “space” that the choice being made from? This will require an understanding of your customer and their state of awareness and sophistication.
Craft your value proposition question for your desired USP – “If I am (your ideal customer), why should I choose (option), rather than any other (options in selection field)?
In such a competitive and established market as sports, how has the UFC managed to carve out such a large piece of the market?
And since MMA was only created in the 90s, how did they do it in such a short period of time?
After getting sucked into the UFC’s world, I’ve been paying close attention to their marketing to find out how.
Simply put: If the UFC’s marketing was in a cage with any other sport, they’d be finishing the fight faster than Ronda Rousey.
Because when it comes to their marketing, there are 2 things they do exceptionally well:
They create a legitimate Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for every fight (why this fight is THE ONLY ONE of it’s kind — and why you have to watch this fight over ANY OTHER fight).
They sell every fight based on the power of it’s story.
Today, we’re going to take a look at both of these aspects and how they’ve contributed to the UFC’s record growth.
When it comes to selling with story, there are few better in the world right now. I have a prime example to share later in this article.
But first, let’s take a look at a marketing concept a lot of people think they understand…
“What is a Unique Selling Proposition?”
Let’s start with a “USP crash course”.
Understanding USPs properly is extremely important to the lifeblood of your business – sales.
A USP is more than just a claim of ‘Hot pizza in 30 minutes or it’s free!’ — which is what most people associate with a USP.
The truth is that coming up with a great USP for your business is hard. Real hard.
So, my goal here is to give you all the tools you need to be able to identify a killer USP, and then craft one for your own marketing.
First, let’s start with a functional definition. A definition that — when you understand it — will give you a leg up on the competition, right off the bat.
A USP (also known as a Value Proposition) is the answer to what’s known as the Value Proposition Question:
If I am your ideal customer, why should I buy from you, rather than any of your competitors?
At first glance, that question seems fairly basic and straight forward.
But don’t let it fool you.
There’s a lot packed into it
Let’s break it down into it’s individual components to get a better understanding of what a USP needs to be:
If I am your ideal customer — A USP must be stated from the point of view of what’s appealing to your customer. Not you. You need to use customer centric logic when building your USP.
Why should I buy from you – A USP must form a rational argument for why a customer should purchase from you. It needs to deliver the reason why the customer should choose you. Meaning it must start with the word “Because”.
Rather than any of your competitors – A USP must have an “exclusivity” factor that separates you from your market. You are essentially asking your customer to choose you over your competitors, so there needs to be an element only you can deliver.
A few of the old skool direct response heads — David Ogilvy, Claude Hopkins, and Rosser Reeves (the father of the USP) — all called this “Reason Why Advertising”.
Without giving your customer a compelling reason to choose YOU, you’ll simply blend into the noisy, grey background of a crowded marketplace.
How are any of these options different? This is what happens when you don’t have a compelling reason for customers to choose you. You’re left to the mercy of chance.
Now we have a functional definition of a USP.
The next step in this crash course is to consider this: a business doesn’t just have a single USP.
It has many.
To keep it simple, let’s consider three tiers of USPs:
The Company USP
The Personal USP
The Product USP
Now, let’s repurpose the Value Proposition Question for these 3 examples within the UFC:
The Company – The Ultimate Fighting Championship
The Personal – Conor McGregor, a UFC Superstar
The Product – A UFC fight between two of their fighters, Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes
And for simplicity sake, let’s consider their ideal customer as “a fight fan”…
… which means those three questions would look something like:
“If I am a fight fan, why should I watch the UFC, rather than any other fighting organization (HBO boxing, WWE wrestling, etc.)?”
“If I am a fight fan, why should I watch Conor McGregor fight, rather than any other fighter in the UFC?”
“If I am a fight fan, why should I watch the Conor McGregor vs Chad Mendes fight, rather than any other fight this year?”
These are three legitimate questions for the UFC’s potential audience.
And they’re all questions the UFC answers very well.
The UFC answer their company Value Proposition Question with:
…because the UFC is the only combat organization where you can see the world’s most elite combat athletes knock each other out in spectacular fashion.
For many fight fans, this is truly compelling reason to pay attention to the UFC.
Many fight fans have become bored with “no action” boxing matches, and the “scripted drama” of WWE Wrestling.
So, seeing action-driven, unscripted combat sports at the highest level is more than enough to get them to pay attention.
The Power of a Great USP
To illustrate the power of a great USP, I’m going to tell a short story…
And if he lost to a wrestler before winning a championship belt, it would slam the brakes on his gravy train.
So, armed with an in-depth understanding of their market, the UFC re-positioned the fight with a new USP:
“Conor McGregor answers the wrestler question”, which you can see here:
What’s mind blowing is that even though the original fight was billed as “the biggest fight in Featherweight history”, when the USP was changed to “McGregor answers the wrestler question”, sales increased!
The UFC did an amazing job at finding a new, appealing USP for their ideal customers.
“If I am a fight fan, why should I watch Conor McGregor versus Chad Mendes, rather than any other fight?”
…because you’ll finally get to see if Conor McGregor — the most hyped up fighter in UFC history — can actually beat a high-level wrestler.
This USP was compelling enough to make me attend my first ever UFC fight event.
Me (left) and some random Irish UFC fans in the seats next to me. All supporting Conor McGregor at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for UFC 189.
“Photos or it didn’t happen….”
The “UFC Method” for creating a killer USP
Ok, time to get tactical and breakdown exactly how awesome the UFC are at building USPs for each of their products.
Let me explain…
Each fight night is framed around a “main event”. This is the biggest fight on the card with the biggest stars.
The main event is the main reason to tune into that fight night and buy the UFC’s core product – a $60 Pay-Per-View (PPV) ticket.
All of the other fights on the card are just delicious appetizers that add extra momentum to the event.
But it’s the main event that’s often the real driver of sales.
These main events normally involve only top contenders from a specific division. Often the “Champion” versus the “Challenger”.
Let’s take a look at a typical USP, presented in this short 30 second ad:
How much work can you spot being done by the messaging in those short 30 seconds?
Once you’ve learned what I’ve laid out in this article (especially what I’ve got in store for you at the end), I guarantee you’ll be able to spot a lot more.
To fully understand what’s going on, you first need to consider that each top contender is in a top position because they’re the best at something.
They’re the best wrestler in the division. They’re the best striker. They’re the best all-rounder. They’re the most elusive. They’re the most dangerous. Each one has something unique about them. An “exclusivity factor”.
The UFC does a great job of identifying these classifications (with stats and figures) and then applying these labels to their fighters.
In short, they build these labels beforehand using proof.
Then, when they need to build a USP for the fight, they just apply a simple formula:
(Label 1) versus (Label 2)
With two exclusive labels being combined, this creates an new unique product for them – an automatic USP.
I first noticed this when I watching older UFC fights from their back catalogue.
The penny dropped while watching Lyoto Machida versus Randy Couture.
Lyoto Machida (at the time) was the first successful karate stylist the sport had seen. He was the quickest on his feet and evaded the most punches. He was tagged as “the most elusive athlete in the UFC”.
Randy Couture at this stage of his career was already a legend in the sport, having won more belts than anyone else. He was tagged as “the most dangerous combat athlete in the UFC”.
So, the USP for the fight was billed as “The most elusive athlete in the sport versus the most dangerous combat athlete in the sport”.
Not too shabby a reason to tune in, if you’re a fight fan.
UFC Selling In Action
So, now that you’re aware of what the USP for the fight is, let’s take a look at how the UFC used it to sell.
Pay close attention to the following video.
Watch how each fighter’s role is defined. And then how the UFC uses this unique combination as the main selling point:
Now that we’ve seen how the UFC builds their USPs, let’s take a look at another example.
The goal here is to see if you can spot the elements at work — without knowing what they are.
The following video is for the fight between Demetrius “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and John “The Magician” Dodson.
This fight was a championship rematch between two fighters who had met a couple of years before in the UFC’s smallest weight class: the Flyweight division.
In the following video, see if you can pick out the elements of exclusivity — the ONLY FACTORS — that are being used to build the USP for this fight.
So, what did you notice?
If it was any of the following, then you’re on the right track to being able to identify a strong USP:
John Dodson: Only fighter in the Flyweight Division with 1-punch knock out power
John Dodson: The “Fastest Guy” in the “Fastest Division” in the UFC
Mighty Mouse: The “Best Pound for Pound” Fighter on Planet Earth
The Fight: The “Most Competitive Championship Rematch” in the History of the Flyweight Division
Reading through that list, there’s a lot of appeal and exclusivity packed into one fight!
So, if you were to ask:
“If I am a fight fan, why should I watch John “The Magician” Dodson versus Demetrius “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, rather than any other fight?”
…the answer would be…
“…because it’s the most competitive championship rematch in the history of the flyweight division.
Where you’ll get to see the best “pound for pound” fighter on planet earth face the only guy in his division who is faster than him, who’s also the only guy who can knock him out with one punch.”
If you’re a fight fan, there’s no way you’re ignoring this product.
What’s also interesting is to see the consistency and congruency in how the UFC presents the USP for each fight.
Watch here as the UFC commentators discuss the same fight — and it’s USP — at the start of the broadcast:
Notice how it’s exactly the same argument, but re-iterated in a different way to intensify it’s power.
And notice how it’s used to re-invigorate the appeal of the product, even after it’s been purchased.
How to apply this to your marketing
The biggest lesson here is that everything you do needs to have a USP to make it truly compelling.
BUT — a more powerful takeaway you can extract from the UFCs marketing is this:
To create something unique, you don’t need to create something brand new (or original) from scratch.
You often just need to combine existing components in new, interesting ways that your market and audience will find appealing.
For the UFC, this means taking a part of their organization — their fighters — and mixing them in interesting ways that fight fans love.
Once that’s done, there’s only one step left for them to take. A step that will drive their target market into a frenzy.
All that’s missing from that new product is a little“UFC secret sauce”.
And that “secret sauce” is telling you the story of the fight…
The Ronda Rousey Effect – How To Supercharge Your USP with Story
As you may have noticed in the previous videos in this article, the USP of each fight is not the only thing being communicated in their marketing.
The USP itself is not even the most prominent part. In fact, it’s often woven into the story telling of the events leading up to the fight.
To show you how to supercharge your USP by combining it with an emotional story, we’re going to take a look at an excellent example focused on UFC Superstar, Ronda Rousey.
Like I mentioned at the start of this article, chances are you’ve heard of Ronda.
Ronda Rousey featured as the #1 most dominant athlete in a recent piece by Business Insider.
She has an upcoming fight in November of 2015 against her next challenger, Holly Holm.
Both of these women have been totally dominant in their fields of fighting.
Rousey is a former Olympian Bronze Medalist in Judo. She is an extremely high level grappler, who is undefeated as UFC champion in all of her 8 fights.
She is the first and ONLY female UFC champion to have existed in her weight class. Every challenger she’s faced has been quickly dispatched.
Her last 5 fights have lasted 3 minutes COMBINED.
(A full fight is scheduled for 15-25 minutes.)
Holly Holm on the other hand is a former boxing champion, who defended her world title an unprecedented 18 times.
If you’ve been following along here so far, then you’ll see that the automatic USP emerging here is:
“World’s Best Female Grappler” versus “World’s Best Female Striker”
When you dig a little deeper into their stories, you’ll discover that both Rousey and Holm faced a lot of adversity to get to the top of their fields.
And they did this during a time when gender roles in society clearly communicated that “girls shouldn’t be fighting”.
They fought and struggled to the top when there was no clear path in front of them.
At a time when no one was watching. No one was cheering.
In fact, even UFC President Dana White went so far as to say “women will never fight in the UFC”.
Yet that perception has changed a lot recently — what with Ronda Rousey becoming an international superstar.
There’s now a growing movement of young ladies picking up martial arts, who are personally identifying themselves as “a fighter”.
Ronda has been a figurehead in this movement — acting as a celebrity role model for a generation of younger girls to look up to.
So, how does the UFC sell this fight?
By channeling the power of that movement onto the event, layering it on top of the already powerful USP of “World’s Best Grappler versus World’s Best Striker”.
And they do it masterfully, by telling the story of both fighters. All without saying a word.
Pay close attention to every detail in this video – it’s a marketing masterclass:
You’ll probably want to watch that again…
“So, what exactly makes a great USP?”
This is the question I get asked the most when I talk to people about USPs.
First, let’s start with the simple version.
A great USP is an extremely compelling answer to the value proposition question:
“If I am your ideal customer, why should I buy from you, rather than any of your competitors?”
Diving to the next level, your next question should be: what makes an answer compelling?
To understand that, you need to look at each claim of value you make — from the perspective of your customer — through two lenses:
These two factors have an unbalanced relationship.
If something becomes appealing, then chances of it also being exclusive are slim.
Appeal breeds success, and competition is quick to imitate.
What you’re looking to identify is the overlap between appeal and exclusivity — home of the Powerful “Only” Factor.
What you offer needs to be appealing. That’s the price of entry.
But if it’s not exclusive, the power of the appeal will be diluted amongst all of your competitors who offer the same thing.
So, your offer needs to be exclusive.
But just making something exclusive is not enough. Unless it’s appealing it won’t attract the customers attention in the manner you want.
For example, if you manufacture smartphone covers you can claim exclusivity by saying:
“We’re the only smartphone cover to be made from 100% recycled garbage bags.”
But how appealing is that to your prospective customers?
There’s a fine balance to strike here. And I’m going to show exactly how to do it…
Action Steps: Upping your USP game
So, let’s talk about how we can find a killer USP for your business.
To really get some amazing results, I’m going to show you two simple steps you need to go through:
Discovering Your USP – Whether your business is successful or not, the first thing you need to do is identify what your current USP is. The tool set in this step will help you identify exactly what your current USP is – even if you don’t think you have one.
Strengthening Killer USP – Refining and amplifying the power of your USP is one of the most worthwhile activities you can do in business. Whether you already have a USP, or you’re creating one from scratch. This step will map out exactly how you can take your USP to the next level
Both of these are covered in a special guide I’ve created for Copy Chief readers.
I call it the “USP Builder’s Toolset”, and it will show you:
The exact 7 step process to identifying your existing USP (you already have one — whether you realize it or not!)
The 4 critical USP factors you need to focus on while strengthening your USP
The 9 “unique angles” you can start implementing today (to give yourself a leg up on your competition)
Specific examples of how the UFC used this very process to capture the mindshare of their market
To get your hands on it, all you need to do is enter your name and email below.
After that you’ll be taken to a page to download your copy of the USP Builder’s Toolset.
You’ll also receive an email from Kevin Rogers delivering the Toolset to you, so you have a copy in your inbox.
This Toolset will essentially give you everything you need to build your own killer USP.
Follow the steps closely and your competitors will soon be out for the count!