If you look up Unique Selling Proposition in Wikipedia, you see this definition:
In Reality in Advertising Reeves laments that the USP is widely misunderstood and defines it in three parts, summarized here:
- Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer—not just words, product puffery, or show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, for this specific benefit.”
- The proposition must be one the competition cannot or does not offer. It must be unique—either in the brand or in a claim the rest of that particular advertising area does not make.
- The proposition must be strong enough to move the masses, i.e., attract new customers as well as potential customers
The basics of marketing and selling involve a USP for what you are selling. In recruiting (a profession that I am often told is sales and marketing), our equivalent concept is Employee Value Proposition (EVP). But from what I see, it is almost always puffery, not something the competition cannot also say, and not strong enough to move the masses. Thus failing the above three criteria.
I have heard and read many EVPs from many companies and what I have seen is something you can see for yourself by doing a search for “our employee value proposition” in a search engine. From company websites directly, you will see things like the following:
- Great People
- Sharing Culture
- Thriving on Diversity
- Performance is Rewarded
- The most opportunities to grow/develop
- Empowered to do your best
- We are proactive
- We are industry leaders/experts
- Innovation is born out of practicality
- We work hard but not alone
- There is no right way to do a wrong thing
All of this is product puffery…the product being our companies (not even about the specific jobs). At times, these statementss are not even true…just what we wish it could be or what the executives think it should be.
But for certain, these statements could be said by any multitude of companies. It does not truly differentiate one company from another. They are branding statements…not selling propositions. They are generic statements of culture and values a company may or may not have (and applicants are skeptical because there are crappy companies out there that say the exact same things too).
These statements do not truly affect a potential candidate’s desire to apply. These statements do not say:
- Apply to this job for this specific benefit or benefits.
- This is something you can’t find in other companies
Now compare this with USPs we know:
- Dominoes – “fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less guaranteed.”
- Avis – “we’re number two, so we try harder.”
- FedEx – “when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
- M&Ms – “the milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
Clear, decisive benefits that other companies can not easily claim. Also, they don’t try to be all things to all people. Dominoes is not the best pizza (IMO), but they are fast. FedEx is not the cheapest, but it will get there by tomorrow.
We need to rethink our EVPs, so they more closely resemble USPs…a tried and true principle of marketing and sales.