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HOW TO DEVELOP A USP FOR
By Mark Fletcher, Tower Systems
Developing the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for a newsagency
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 passion for this
is 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 are different to big retailers.
Where they get lost in KPIs, share price and
other metrics, small business retailers think
in personal terms, often with 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 that works is sit-
ting on a seat across from the entrance
to your retail business, watching your
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
5. What do you stand for? If someone says
‘W ho 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
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
7. Would you be missed? It is said that peo-
ple 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
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 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
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
Change is inevitable. Yes, your USP can
and will change as the business evolves.
So, get started. To help you along, here
are three ideas that focus on passion and
1. Gifts you’ll be proud to give
2. Cards people love
3. Where customers are friends.
Mark Fletcher is the owner of Tower
Systems newsagency software company and
a newsagent; firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE REALITY (from participating stores
first quarter 2012)
• Magazines: down 5%
• Cards: up 2%
• Lotteries: down <1%
• Newspapers: down 2%
• Stationery: up 2%
• Calendars: up 10%
• Diaries: up 11%
• Books: up 10%
• GNS: up 20%
• Rent, labour & costs: up 5%+
Gross Profit: 32% ... target should be 40%
Labour: 11% of sales ... target 9% of sales
Retail space: 12% of sales ... target: 10%
Overheads: 6% of sales ... target 4% of
Floor space allocation: magazines – 25%;
stationery – 25%; cards – 25%; other –
10%; overheads – 15%
Stock turn: Should be: Cards – 3;
stationery – 4; ink – 7; confectionery – 7;
gifts – 6%
DATA is KING
Data collected by Tower Systems’ benchmarking survey and released to agents at
Mark Fletcher’s Future of Newsagency seminar reflects what is happening in those
newsagencies who participated in the study.
Mark suggested that newsagents have to find a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to
replace the focus on traditional products and reinvent themselves. Knowledge of data is
essential to make the right decisions.
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