What Is a USP and Why Is It Important to Your School?September 25, 2019
A note from Digistorm: this post was originally published in October 2017 and has since been updated to include more relevant information.
If you work in marketing or business, you’ve probably heard the term ‘USP’ before. It stands for Unique Selling Proposition and it’s crucial to your school’s marketing plan. According to The Entrepreneur.com, a USP is the factor of consideration presented by the seller as the reason why one product or service is different (and better) than that of the competition.
Below, we take take a look at why USPs are so important for marketing success, walk through the steps you can take to define yours, and provide a couple of examples from schools that have nailed theirs. Ready? Let's dive in.
What makes the perfect USP?
The perfect USP should underpin your school’s entire marketing strategy. At its core, a USP is able to quickly answer why your school is the best choice for prospective families. Let's look at it another way: it's an elevator pitch! It’s one sentence that clearly defines your school, your values, and your purpose.
Defining your school’s USP is all about finding your ‘why.’
The biggest advocate for finding your 'why' is Simon Sinek who developed his framework, the golden circle. If you haven't already checked out his TEDTalk, we highly recommend taking a look. At the crux of it, Sinek's framework is underpinned by the idea that a strong USP is about communication your brand's purpose, not your product.
Why is the Golden Circle so effective? Well, we’re emotional beings and as Sinek states, the science behind this framework is the idea that we humans respond best when messages resonate with the parts of our brain that control emotions, behavior and decision-making. Makes sense right? This is why brands like Apple, for example, are so successful. Let’s take a look at Sinek’s example of the way Apple market their brand using the Golden Circle framework.
Let’s imagine that Apple’s USP started with their what rather than their why — it would look something like this:
“We make great computers. They’re user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Want to buy one?”
While factually true, this statement doesn’t really do a great job of inspiring consumers or educating us on why Apple makes such great computers. Now, let’s take a look at what happens when the Golden Circle framework is applied.
“With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”
We know that deciding which school is the right fit is an important and emotional decision for any parent, which is why considering the Golden Circle when defining your school USP is a great way to ensure that you’re communicating in a way that connects with them on an emotional level. So, with all of this in mind, let’s walk through the steps to helping your school find its why.
Defining your school USP
The great thing about defining your school USP is that you can really think outside the box. For some schools, a USP could be able the tangible offerings like; an Olympic size swimming pool, a state of the art performing arts theatre, or the latest technology and virtual reality equipment. For others, it’s the intangible; a creative approach to pedagogy, awards, the hundreds of years of heritage, or the school’s guiding values. Your USP might even be a combination of these elements — the point is, your USP is unique to your school, so think about feature or aspects make your school special in the eyes of prospective parents and students.
Let’s take a look at some examples to get you feeling inspired.
Ormiston College: Technology
The future is digital and prospective parents are very aware of just how important it is to ensure their children gain an excellent education, especially when it comes to technology. After winning gold for Australia’s Best School - Use of Technology award at the 2018 Australian Education Awards, Ormiston College has cleverly leveraged this accolade into their school USP. The College is building its reputation for being the ‘tech school’ of Queensland.
Source: Ormiston College
Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie)’s USP emphasises the school’s heritage, values and mark on history. Churchie’s USP is aimed at prospective parents who value tradition, prestige and a long-standing history of educating boys and raising them to become men.
Defining your school's USP allows you to stand out from your competition and capture your audience's attention. Keeping your USP at the heart of your school’s digital marketing strategy, enables you to highlight your USP as a point of difference when guiding prospective parents through your enrollment process.
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