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Why understanding your USP is important for startups

Why understanding your USP is important for startups

Regardless of whether you are launching your new business within a crowded or a niche sector, one thing for sure is you will need to develop a USP. This helps to identify the elements which differentiate your business from your competitors and provide a reason for customers to want to buy your product or service. 

Economic development manager at Hyndburn Borough Council, Salma Chaudry, offers some tips and suggestions to help develop, protect, and sustain your USP.  

What is a USP?

The acronym UPS stands for unique selling proposition (or sometime coined unique selling point) and describes the marketing strategy of informing customers about how or why your brand or product is superior to your competitors’.

Once you develop your USP it’s critical not only to protect and minimise others being able to copy what you have created, but to also be able to sustain your USP so that it continues to remain relevant and still keeps customers interested in what you offer. 

Speaking from experience, no amount of research and pre-planning will prepare you for the lessons, revelations and insights that will come to light once you start trading. It is therefore important to keep an open mind and being prepared to pivot, innovate and adapt your USP as and when necessary. 

Here are some tips and suggestions to help develop, protect and sustain a USP. 

Developing a USP

For a starting point – you are your company’s best USP. As a company founder and an individual, you are unique and therefore a great brand USP! 

Consumers are increasingly interested in the real people or person behind a brand or service. 

Show your face and tell your story – maximise the opportunity to share your company vision, mission, and the passion you have for your brand. Highlight any challenges you may have faced as a start-up and share how you have successfully overcome or navigated these. Was there a light bulb moment that triggered your idea, or has it always been a long-time dream? How did you get from your initial idea to launching your new company? 

A personal insight can often be a source of inspiration to others and provides a great way of gaining new customers and support over not only the many larger faceless corporate brands, but every other brand too as the decades old phrase “people buy from people” still rings true and winning business is not always about price. 

Social value is emerging as a major consideration for consumers and can be one of the most effective ways of defining your USP and growing a loyal customer base. Increasingly consumers are basing purchasing decisions on company purpose and the positive impact a brand is making or contributing to society or the environment. 

Create a clear social value strategy which resonates and aligns with your consumers. 

Protecting your USP

Commencing trading is an extremely exciting time. However, it’s also vital that before you begin you put into place sufficient measures to protect all the hard work, time and money invested to get your business ready to launch. 

  • Ensure you have a good understanding of your company assets, and IP laws and regulations.
  • Take advice on what you can trademark or copyright, such as a logo, company name, product designs etc, to stop anything getting copied.
  • If you have developed a first of a kind product there may even be a need to consider securing a patent.
  • If you have a digital business such as an e-book ensure you have a copyright notice visible on your website when customers are downloading products, as well as clearly defined licensing terms and agreements in place.

Most start-up businesses will have a network of suppliers or outsourced service providers that they work with, ranging from companies providing marketing support through to a parts and inventory suppliers and accountants. It’s extremely important from the very beginning that all your processes, ideas, knowledge, and contact information is not shared. 

Ensure you have a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement in place with all parties to ensure the protection of this valuable data. 

If you are using a contract manufacturer or the services of a freelance designer, you also need an agreement which shows who owns any specific formula or the rights to any design. 

Sustaining a USP

Once you launch, it’s essential to innovate and continuously think of ways to improve and adapt your ideas as well being aware of upcoming trends and changes within your industry. 

Test the demand for new ideas by offering a limited-edition product or service, or a chance for customers to purchase sample size products. Trialling can serve as a great opportunity to test the market and gain valuable insight into demand. 

Ensure you have a process and various channels through which you can access regular feedback, this should include consumers, suppliers and others connected to your industry network. 

Keeping informed will help ensure you are best placed to plan and react to any adaptations or changes required to keep you ahead in your industry, as well as minimising the risk of any unexpected shocks or surprises which could negatively affect your business. 

Hope these tips were useful. Feel free to add your thoughts and share your ideas too.!

About the author

Salma Chaudhry is the economic development manager at Hyndburn Borough Council. Salma Chaudhry is the economic development manager at Hyndburn Borough Council.

Her role has a variety of strands focused on offering support to the business community across all 10 districts within the borough of Hyndburn. This includes assisting the current levelling up projects, through to developing strategies for inward investment and helping existing businesses to navigate challenges to facilitate growth and expansion which ultimately helps improve the local economy. 

If you’re looking to grow, scale or start your business, use Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub. We offer a range of funded business support services. Call our Business Support Helpdesk on 0800 488 0057 to find out more or complete our enquiry form.

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