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A Simple Worksheet For Web-Worthy USP's


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A while back, I put a line in an issue of the copywriters roundtable and suggested you, ambitious copywriter that you are, fill it out:

"My product ___________(does what?)__________for ______________(whom?)____________ "

If you really wanted to be thorough, pal Bob Bly reminded me, you could even make the results a little richer by adding:

"... by __________(what method)___________?"

To the end of the same phrase.

And this, is it.

Your USP (unique selling point) worksheet.
If you haven't done this for a product you're trying to market, then stop and do so right away.

I'll wait.

Why is this so worthwhile?
Because, my friend, it's whe
re marketing online & offline begins.

What you're looking for is a line that describes a big benefit your product offers... for an audience that wants it... in a way no other product can.

"Yah, yah... blah, blah, blah. Enough with the lectures already," you say.

No really. If you can't fill in this line, don't bother trying to sell. Seriously.

Online or off, if you can't find an advantage your product has over all others... with a benefit that's going to appeal specifically to your target audience... you're running up a greased hill.

As long as there have been breakthrough headlines on space ads, in radio commercials, on television... there has been the U.S.P.

Just so you appreciate the gravity of this point, a
little history I don't believe I shared with you before. Maybe after this, you'll appreciate the importance of working out your USP.

A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON ON HOW TO SELL

The term itself first surfaced, officially, in 1961.
Ad legend Rosser Reeves first wrote about it in his book, "Reality in Advertising."

(Okay, advertising historians... I know there are some of you out there... is there an even earlier reference? If so, let me know and we'll let people know in a later issue.)

1961. That's a solid ten years before the first email was sent by military scientist Ray Tomlinson... and
a full thirty years before Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.

So how could such a dinosaur of an idea POSSIBLY have anything to do with successful selling online?

After all, it's a whole new ballgame... isn't it?

Nope. Sorry Elmo.

Even online, you STILL need a strong and definitive USP at the core of every well-written marketing strategy. It's the soul of every great product. And the rhythm-keeper for every great ad.

But most importantly...

It's in the USP that you figure out how to unify the biggest benefit of your product with your customer's
strongest core desire. You can see why, in these annals of direct-response marketing, we keep hitting this thing so hard.

Too many businesses, said Reeves back in 1961, flop because they fail to create a well-defined USP.

Press the fast forward button and you could say
exactly the same about the web businesses that
vaporized during the Dotcom collapse of the late
1990s.

Too many of them had no well-defined USP. So, no
matter how much market moolah they threw at their
problems, ultimately they flopped.

CHOCOLATE, MINTS, AND TOOTHPASTE

Reeves, by the way, is the copywriter who wrote, "the only chocolate candy that melts in your mouth, not in your hands" -- which helped make M&Ms the most popular chocolate candy in the world. It's pure USP.

Reeves also wrote the USPs for Wonder Bread ("Wonder Bread helps build strong bodies in eight ways")... for Certs ("Certs breath mints with a magic drop of retsyn")... for Colgate toothpaste ("Colgate cleans your breath, while it cleans your teeth")... Rolaids antacid ("How do you spell relief? R-O-L-A-I-D-S")... and Viceroy cigarettes ("Only Viceroy gives you 20,000 filter traps in every filter")... just to name a few.

Just by nailing the USP, he built some of the most popular products in the history of advertising.

In the time since, nothing has changed.

Without a compelling USP, you won't be able to write the web copy we're going to create in the remaining four installments of this course.

Bet, once you have the line we created earlier... and that we're revisiting now... you'll have ample resource to twist it and turn it into all kinds of webpage headlines... teaser ad taglines... banner ads... story ideas for e-zines... and plenty more.

Once you've nailed down the USP, the rest of the ideas you'll need for writing copy will flow like water.
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John FordeAuthor: John Forde, Editor - The CopyWriters Round Table

John Forde is editor of the Copywriter's Roundtable, a published writer, and has been a direct mail copywriter since 1992. John currently works from an office in Paris. You can sign up for his free weekly e-letter, the Copywriter's Roundtable, at www.jackforde.com.