Copywriting Information

Your USP is Useless

One of the keys to writing good marketing copy is to differentiate your product or service from the competition with an effective selling point. And it is on precisely this element that many otherwise competent writers flounder and flop - and so does their copy.

Because the key word here is "effective" not "different" or "unique".

"But wait!", you say, "Isn't my Unique Selling Proposition what makes the sales message effective?"

Ah, Grasshopper...maybe, maybe not.

You see, the problem with most USPs is that they start with you (pun intended). And you can be unique and different all you want, but if it means nothing to me - what do I care? The same applies to your customer. For your USP to be effective with your prospect, it must first be relevant to them. The two are inextricably linked: effective = relevant, and relevant = effective. Without this link, the "U" in your USP stands for "Useless".

Taking this concept a step further, let's think about the "Selling" part of USP. "Selling" implies that you are thrusting something at the prospect that they don't need and may not want. By changing "Selling" to "Service", you are now offering your prospect something that will enhance their life and make it better in some way - you are offering to "serve" them, not "sell" them. Thus, a Unique Selling Proposition becomes a "Relevant Service Proposition" or "RSP" - a totally different concept, and one that echoes throughout your communications.

Ask yourself these questions:

What am I offering?

To whom is it relevant?

What is relevant to them?

How is what I offer relevant to what's relevant to my prospect?

The answer to the last question is your RSP.

To craft your RSP takes a bit of good, old-fashioned hard work. The only way you are going to discover what is relevant and of service to your prospects and customers is to do your homework. Luck will not take you there. You must get to know your prospect or market - intimately. Only then will you truly know what their hopes, dreams, and problems are, and only then will you know how what you offer is relevant to those hopes, dreams and problems.

Psychological research tells us that the most attractive and easily recognized word to a person is the sound of their own name. Use that principle in your search for your RSP. Then, instead of being about how great you are, it becomes about what your prospect secretly hopes you'll do for them.

Now you know how to get their attention...

About The Author

Professional freelance copywriter Collette Gillian helps her clients create effective marketing communications for the Web and beyond. To get a free quote on your next project email her at, or phone (801) 532-2147.

©Copyright 2004. Collette Gillian dba All rights reserved.

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