The term Unique Selling Proposition (USP) was developed by television advertising pioneer Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company. This marketing concept was proposed as a theory to explain a pattern in successful television advertising. Over a period of time however, this theory was replaced by positioning of a product in the customer’s mind. That determines and uniquely differentiates, the recall value of a product or service.
Many a times, while meeting with investors and advisers, I was asked about the positioning of our product Appsterix Virtual Mobility (AVM). The benefits of using delivered Android on all devices was too hard to consume, and the relative merits seemed barely technical to everybody. Over a period of time, as our product kept getting better, I kept matching our offerings with other established players. Every time around that I did this exercise, I would be more and more convinced about my product, and with increased fervor kept adding more features/doing more optimizations.
However, when I met investors they were not convinced at all. Moreover, most of the times I kept getting feedback that “its just a little different”, “enterprise adoption is not easy”, “its just a use-case”. It took me a little while to understand what was wrong with our startup. Here’s how the traditional products sold:
- Head & Shoulders: “You get rid of dandruff”
- M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
- Metropolitan Life: “Get Met. It Pays.”
There’s a slight mutation though. The mutation states as follows — “What is the value in this product like no other?” My favorite product example to support this thesis is Google Maps — its navigation like no other! If there are products and there were navigation systems for road transport, they must have existed before smart phones and data services. No longer. And most certainly No Better. Now, if we were to see what are the other companies which have delighted customers with such value — like no other, and try to establish that core value, it may be interesting :
- Google: Find anything & everything
- LinkedIn : Professional Connections
- Twitter : Breaking news and updates
- Facebook: Albums — before it went to the dogs!
- Evernote— my notes with me always
Now, when I compare my first startup (appsterix.com), with any of the above, clearly the differential core was missing. “Enterprise mobility delivered” meant a lot to me, but it didn’t solve the fundamental problem for people who needed mobility. Because, in the end the product did not deliver “Value — like no other”. More recently I have been thinking about our new product at work, and amidst all high energy discussions, my only fallback question was — “Can the agents get by without using this product?”. If they don’t need it, then we don’t need to build it.
If you are running a startup or contemplating about a product inside your company, I would highly recommend you to think about the irreplaceable core value of your product and subsequently company. If there’s value, that customers will see, there’s absolutely no reason why you will be short of cash, or will not have a good team working with you in delivering that value.
This post has been reproduced from Rohit’s blog with his permission. Recently his startup Appsterix has been acquired by 24-7Inc.