What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)? Can you describe it in a few sentences? Have you ever thought about why your customers choose to use your store? If you haven’t, then your business is probably not preforming as well as it could.

Developing the USP for a newsagents or convenience store is one of the most important steps you can take in business. A good USP will frame every decision you make. It will also define why you are in business for it goes to the heart of your passion. It feeds from your mission, your reason for existing.

Yes, a USP must reflect your passion for this and what drives your love of your business and you do love your small retail business don’t you?! This is where small retailers like newsagents and convenience stores are different to big retailers. Where they get lost in KPIs, share prices and other metrics, small business retailers think in personal terms, often with real emotion.

So how do you create your USP? Here are some tips I have found useful when working with newsagents on developing a USP.

  1. Take your time. You will be done when you are done. Getting your USP right is more important than meeting a deadline.
  2. Think. Try and get time away from the business to think about your USP. A good location I have found is sitting on a seat across from the entrance to your retail business, watching your customers.
  3. Love. Work out what you love about your business and/or what you want to love about your business. Next, think about what you want your customers to love so much that they will tell their friends.
  4. Differentiate. Think about what’s special in your area or marketplace about your business.
  5. What do you stand for? If someone says ‘who are you?’, you will probably answer with the facts. If they say ‘no, I want more, what makes you special?’, you will probably, hopefully, take them inside what makes you tick. So, you need to know, what does your business stand for?
  6. Define. Try and put into words your passion and what is special about your business. Brainstorm ideas in ten words or less. Get as many down on paper as you can.
  7. Would you be missed? It is said that people often define their view of themselves by wondering if they would be missed. Think about your small retail business in this way. Would you be missed? If so, how and why?

It might take a few goes, working through these ideas. The result should be something close to a USP for your business.

Your USP needs to be succinct, passionate and unique, something that explains why your business is different and why people should shop with you. A big challenge for newsagents and convenience stores is the diversity of the typical business. A USP is unique yet so much of what newsagents sell is not unique. So, a USP may start with one part of the business, getting you known for that. If you think you are close, test it with your employees and family. Test it with yourself too by asking what you would change in the business with this USP in place, what decisions would be different?

A good USP will guide business decisions and provide a framework through which you navigate change in the business. But most important of all, it defines why you are in business.

Change is inevitable. Yes, your USP can and will change as the business evolves.