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I wanted to talk about your product’s USP (Unique Selling Point), how to work out what it is and why having one is important.

Something I see a lot, particularly on Amazon, are ‘copycat products’ – where someone is ordering the exact replica of something already selling, then branding it themselves.

Firstly, I’m not saying there’s necessarily anything wrong with that.

But, the thing is, when you do that, why would anyone choose to buy from you over the other seller, who presumably already has a sales and review history?

Well, I guess one reason might be price.  I see many manufacturers doing this same thing now – and since they made the product, they can obviously offer it a lot cheaper than everyone else.

But that probably isn’t you.  So differentiating on price won’t really work as a long-term strategy, as if your competitors also lower their prices, then you have to lower yours again to keep up, and before you know it you might not actually be making a profit.

The only exception here is if your product is deliberately designed to be a cheaper (perhaps simpler) version of something that already exists and you’ve sourced and priced it with that in mind.  That then is your USP!

So, how should you be creating a USP?

The answer might be obvious if your product is brand new and unique.

If it’s not a 100% original idea (very few are), then you should be thinking about this at the design stage – not at the marketing stage.

I suggest, right at the outset, doing two things:

1 Finding out what your competitors already sell. 

Look at their products, their spec, their reviews (and their RRP).  Look at their packaging.  Look at how they position themselves.  Then look at their reviews and see what their customers say.

For example:

I was looking at children’s pirate hats today and read lots of reviews for one particular product that said it came up too big for most adults, let alone a child.

If that’s a product I was going to sell, and assuming I was seeing this feedback quite consistently on other listings, I might decide that my USP would be that my hat is actually child-sized.

And perhaps if I read a lot of reviews talking about similar hats being poorly made, uncomfortable to wear, etc, I’d fix all of those things too.  Then I’d be solving problems that my customer has (buying fancy dress hats that their children won’t wear – either because they don’t fit, or are uncomfortable, or buying poorly made items that they don’t get much use out of.)

As an aside, if I were the seller of the first product mentioned, I’d start marketing it as an adult’s hat!

2 Talk to your customers

I’ve said before – you don’t necessarily have to come out and share all the details of your product if you don’t want to – although, there is something to be said for getting them to buy in early.

For example:

I follow Janet Murray, a UK-based content expert. Every year she shares covers she’s considering for her social media diary and planner and asks her audience to vote for their favourite.  This is really clever and gets people invested in the product before she even has anything to sell.

But let’s say you don’t want to do that – what can you do?

Well, I’ve spoken before about how you can research with your ideal customers (be sure you know who they are first!) online and without giving much if anything away.

If you ask people for their input on existing products, or what they’d like a product like yours to look like, feature, do, etc, this will also help you come up with some ideas.

It Really All Comes Down To Research.

Examples from my own products include:

  • All my products are designed to last – they’re big and great quality, so they can be used, reused and handed down to younger children.  My swaddles specifically are also unisex, as I only offer one style.
  • My towel was bigger than any on the market (at the time) and the thickest.
  • My bamboo bowls have minimal branding (and are big), so they can be used by older children and adults – meaning they last longer than the ‘baby’ ones.  I’d seen lots of reviews about the visible branding on the side of a competitor, which clearly identified it as a ‘baby product.’

USP examples from previous podcast guests include:

Why Is This Important?

There are a few reasons to have a great USP for your product:

  • Firstly, it’ll help you to sell it, as it’ll either be original, solve a problem, or be an improvement on other products already out there.
  • You can talk about the benefits in your product description.
  • It’s something to talk about in your marketing and a way of telling your story.

For example, you’ll often hear me tell the story of how I created my own products after finding that products I took out to use with my second child just weren’t in good enough condition.  That became one of the key elements of Tiny Chipmunk – products that could be used, washed, used again, and handed down from child to child.

That helped me decide the products I created, helped with the spec, and gave me things to talk about and a story to tell others.

So that was my USP – what’s yours?!