The Secret of the USP: Be Different … Get Noticed … Be Successful

Last week, we compared writing compelling copy to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. One piece is no more important than another. If ALL the pieces are not in place, your sale might be "almost good enough." But "almost good enough" simply will not beat the competition.

One piece of this jigsaw puzzle that's easy to overlook is your product's Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – something about your particular product that makes it different from everything else like it on the market. For a vitamin supplement, your USP could be a unique formulation or ingredient. For a vacuum cleaner, it could be a stronger motor. And for a financial newsletter, it might be a panel of experts that has outstanding credentials.

Quite simply, your USP is whatever it is that will make your prospect feel that your product is better, faster, more effective, or sexier. And your job as a copywriter is to tell your prospect exactly what that is.

Marketing genius Matthew Lesko was interviewed in a recent issue of AWAI's Monthly Copywriting Genius (MCG) and asked for his advice on how you can approach creating a USP as successfully as he does.

Two things Matthew stresses:

  • Coming up with the right USP can mean the difference between selling 100 and 10,000 items.
  • When developing your own product, writing about someone else's, or promoting your own services as a copywriter, you MUST find a way to stand out from the competition.

And, as far as "standing out" goes, Matthew Lesko is the king …

While you may not immediately recognize his name, you probably recognize him when you see him on TV. He's the guy in the question-mark suit.

Matthew used his deliberately "oddball" appearance to get noticed – and the tactic worked. The New York Times noticed him and ran an extensive article about him. With that article, Matthew became known as the "Free Money Guy."

But in his MCG interview, Matthew made the point that just being different isn't enough – there has to be a purpose behind it. In his case, the goofy question-mark suit not only grabbed attention, it also emphasized his USP: There's no other place you can find so many sources for "free" money.

How do you find your USP? Through research.

In the MCG interview, Matthew said, "Figure out the USP for your product by listening to the audience. What is it they really want but can't find in products that exist in the marketplace now?"

Start by questioning your client. What do they think is unique about their product? What does it do or have that no other product does or has?

Then do your own research. The Internet and the library are great sources of information, but don't stop there. Talk to your friends, relatives, and associates. Pick their brains. What are they looking for in a product like yours? What frustrations have they faced? This type of research can be fun – and it can also yield surprising results that might lead you directly to your USP.

See for yourself what Matthew Lesko said in MCG about how he made being different part of his USP …and how he makes his product's USP stand out clearly so his prospect has absolutely no doubt his product is unique.

Read Matthew's full interview and a complete analysis of one of his many controls.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: But before you do that, I've got a quick question for you …

QUESTION: What is the USP for AWAI's Monthly Copywriting Genius?

ANSWER: Monthly Copywriting Genius is a monthly email bulletin for those who are serious about becoming successful copywriters. Every page is devoted to uncovering the secrets behind the strongest direct-response promotions in the mail, in space advertising, and on the Internet today.

Each and every month, world-class copywriters reveal how they brainstorm the ideas behind their million-dollar promotions. You even get a rare, first-hand look at one of their most successful controls – broken down element by element so you can use the same strategies yourself to develop stronger promotions.

You'll learn every secret and technique straight from the writers themselves. Secrets and techniques that you would have uncovered only after having years of experience will be laid out in front of you for the taking!

Learn more about Monthly Copywriting Genius.]

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: June 7, 2004

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