Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Marketing Strategy Vs. Tactics


Without a well thought out plan - you may end up with results that are not quite what you expected

One of the issues that continues to pop-up in marketing discussions with clients is the concept of strategy versus tactics; I thought it would be beneficial to explain the key differences.

Basically, marketing breaks down into three parts:

1. Set Goals: What do you want your marketing to achieve?
2. Determine Strategy: How will you achieve your objectives?
3. Select Tactics: Which marketing tools are the most effective for implementing the strategy and achieving the goals?

Let’s use the analogy of building a house to explain how each relates to another.

Setting Goals: This is simple; you want to build a house, but what kind of house? Will it be a Victorian mansion or a modest ranch? The more detailed your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them.

Strategy: When building a house, you do not start by randomly nailing 2 x 4 boards and building the framework; first, you need a “blueprint” to work from – one  that specifies the style of house: Colonial, Ranch, Victorian; size of the house, bedrooms, baths; materials to be used: brick, wood, stone, et cetera. In marketing, your building blueprint is your marketing plan; this is the document that explains the strategy you will use to achieve your goals.

Select Tactics: In home-building, carpentry, plumbing and electrical work could be thought of as the “tactics” used to achieve the end goal, in this case, a house. In marketing, the tactics you may use are advertising, public relations, online marketing and social media.

How does this approach work in marketing?

Well you don’t start by saying “I need a brochure,” that is a tactic.

First, establish your goals, e.g., increase gross sales 20% each year and by 10% next quarter.

Next, determine your strategy, such as “I will employ a direct-sales effort; my sales people will make face-to-face presentations to qualified prospects and close 20% of those efforts”. Your marketing plan includes the following critical information to support your strategy:

  • An in-depth demographic description of the customer base
  • The important reasons why customers will choose to purchase from this company
  • The key benefit that makes us unique and differentiate us from our competitors

Finally, we utilize our tactics: “We will use telemarketing and e-mail marketing to set up initial meetings; during these meetings, we will utilize a PowerPoint presentation and provide a competitive analysis brochure as a leave-behind with all prospective clients.

Part 4: Why Should Customers Buy From You?

Why? Why should a customer buy from you?

This question is often overlooked by companies in their marketing. Back in the 1960s, renowned advertising executive Rosser Reeves coined a term called the Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. Reeves proclaimed that every successful marketing campaign contained four key elements.

  1. Make a specific proposition to your customers, such as “buy this product and you’ll get this specific benefit.”
  2. The proposition must be unique, or perceived unique, by your customers, something that your competitors don’t have or offer, and ideally would be difficult to imitate.
  3. It should be compelling or relevant to your ideal customer to entice them to try your product or service, something that addresses their needs, fears, frustrations, or desires.
  4. It must be simple and easy to articulate and communicate, so your customer will quickly understand why you’re different and the benefit to that.

These elements should be at the core of your marketing sales message. And although the concept was created decades ago, it’s still very relevant today. In fact, the USP Reeves developed for M&M’s Candies in the 1960s, “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands,” is still being used today.

Remember to consider also that what might be important to you, might not be important to your customers. For example, your aviation business may have just passed its 25 year milestone of being in business, which is a great accomplishment. But what benefit does this provide your customers? Not much really.

However, if in the 25 of years of business you haven’t incurred a serious safety defect, and safety is important to your customers, then that may be an important benefit you can offer. Something that says “25 years without a serious safety defect” can be a great way of incorporating your 25 year anniversary with an important benefit to your customers.

Remember, when developing your unique selling proposition, or USP, it’s important to think benefits for the customer and not just features of your product or service.