What role should a company's unique selling proposition play in the company’s advertising strategy?

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One of the key components to effective selling and marketing is called the “unique selling proposition” (USP). The reason that the USP is important is because most businesses are quite homogeneous; therefore, it is advantageous to figure out what is unique and slightly different about your company or product that...

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One of the key components to effective selling and marketing is called the “unique selling proposition” (USP). The reason that the USP is important is because most businesses are quite homogeneous; therefore, it is advantageous to figure out what is unique and slightly different about your company or product that makes it stand out in some way compared to competitors. Maybe the USP allows your company to fill some kind of niche in the market, but that isn’t necessary for a USP. The USP is simply something that makes customers feel that your product is somehow more worthwhile than another product.

For example, there are dozens of barbershops and hair salons within a five-mile radius of my house. They all do the same thing: they cut hair. However, one barbershop has video game consoles and complimentary beer; that is their unique selling proposition. In most cases, emphasizing a USP is beneficial to the company, yet it can cause customers to avoid the product too. Barq's root beer is unique in that it contains caffeine, and that causes some consumers to avoid the product.

Coming back to your question and the role that a USP should play in advertising strategies, it is up to each individual to defend a subjective answer. I personally believe that if a product can differentiate itself in some way in a market with many similar competitors, then I believe that a company should strongly market that aspect of the product. It's a logical fallacy to assume that something is better simply because it is unique; however, many people fall into that reasoning error—that's why it works.

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A unique selling proposition is the one factor that (according to a company) distinguishes its product from those of its competitors.  The unique selling proposition should become the main focal point of the company's advertising strategy.

If you think about various companies that run ads on US TV, you should be able to understand what they each see as their USP.  For example, it is clear that Southwest Airlines seeks to distinguish itself based on its lack of hidden fees.  McDonald's tries to market itself as a family-friendly company where people can have a fun experience.  These companies are presenting these qualities as their unique selling propositions because they feel that those qualities differentiate them from the competition.

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