How To Define Your USP

What is “USP”?

USP stands for unique selling proposition. This means:

Unique – Sets you apart from the competition or competitors, positioning you as the more desirable choice. It is vital that you show your target audience why your service or product is better and what benefits it has that other products or services don’t offer. This could also be a unique way of giving exceptional customer service over and above what you competitors are doing.

Selling – Persuades a potential customer to exchange money for a product or service. “Getting people to part with their cash.” It’s about transforming potential customers into repeat business.

Proposition – It is a proposal or offer suggested for acceptance. You need to make a compelling case to show your customers that you are solving a problem or pain point.

What makes you more unique, more valuable, and more visible in the market than your competitors?

A USP is one of the basics of effective marketing and business that is proven in effectiveness and has stood the test of time. Simply put, your USP is what makes your business different from everyone else in your market and what makes customers want what you’ve got more than your competitors. A strong USP can help you Attract new customers and retain existing customers. It defines your company’s unique position in the market place, it is therefore a very important element of creating a business that customers love. What makes you unique is also a part of your brand.

Having a strong USP lets you to stand apart from competitors and creates the desires and benefits that tap into your target audience’s wants and needs. It can help the customer by saving them time when they are considering buying a product or service, by stating “simply and clearly” why the product or service is different and how it can be more beneficial to them. It will stand out from the crowd. You are able to use a different USP for every product or service within your range. Alternatively, you may prefer to use an overall company-­‐related USP, such as your company ethos being high levels of customer service.

Why Is USP Important?

Every business needs a USP to offer something different to customers, to stand out in the market and to enhance its products Or services. To stand out in today’s crowded market place you must be either BETTER or CHEAPER than your competitors to win over potential new customers.

The process of finding your USP helps you to identify and focus on the key benefits that help you to sell your products or services and contribute to your profits. You can also use your USP to provide a business focus and therefore improve the effectiveness of your promotions or sales activities.

How to Create a USP for Your Business

Ask yourself what a customer might ask, ”Why should I do business with you?”

As a business owner, you must empower your customers with your unique selling proposition that makes them choose to do business with you every single time. You have that power! You just need to take some time, go through our simple exercises and make sure your USP is right for your business and carries your brand through. The right USP is one that, in one phrase, lets the customer answer their own question and say, “I know why I should do business with you.” The USP is so compelling that hopefully your customer would not wish to look at a competitor. The USP is so convincing that the customer is sold on your product or service by just hearing it and without having to check what else is available before choosing you. For many businesses, identifying a USP is not so easy. In fact, for more conventional companies, it can be very difficult. The best USPs directly address a specific need experienced by a company’s ideal customer. A great USP should also emphasise what individual quality the company has that separates it from its competitors.

Let’s look at some unique selling proposition examples:

  • “Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.” Domino’s Pizza
  • “The quicker, picker upper” Bounty Paper Towels
  • “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight” FedEx
  • “The Greatest Show on Earth” Barnum and Bailey Circus
  • “It’s the real thing” Coca-Cola
  • “Diamonds are forever…” DeBeers
  • “The ultimate driving machine” BMW
  • “The best a man can get” Gillette
  • “We’re Number Two. We Try Harder” Avis
  • “The chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand” M&Ms

How A Few Words Can Change An Entire Industry

Ten simple words propelled a small corner pizza takeaway into a world leader in pizza delivery. In no time at all, they transformed the life of the owner from a stressed college student with little money into a multinational business success story and billionaire. Those same ten words transformed the ensure pizza delivery business globally, and set new standards in pizza delivery that every pizza delivery company strives to match.

So, what are those 10 words? “Fresh, Hot Pizza Delivered in 30 Minutes or Less, Guaranteed.” Yep. It’s Domino’s Pizza and you’ve all heard of them
and know the slogan.

Your USP can be based on anything you like so long as it makes your business unique and more desirable. Perhaps it’s price, product, guarantees you offer, colour, ingredients, time frame or speed, positioning, a unique benefit… It is the very essence of what your business can offer or provide to customers that your competitors don’t. Your USP should be so convincing and compelling that it becomes your company’s slogan and forms the brand.

Tim Waterstones USP

Waterstones are a great example of how to identify key issues and problems for customers and provide a solution. When the owner, Tim Waterstone, started up his book shop business, all of his competitors sold books during normal business hours (Mon-­‐ Fri, 9am – 5pm) with a short opening on Saturday mornings, stacked their books on shelves in alphabetical order with the spine out, and were staffed by students and people on minimum wage with no interest or knowledge of books. This served a few issues for customers.

Problem 1: Customers who buy books are usually working people, and if they weren’t they would use their local library and not buy books. Thus, opening during business hours and no offering evening or weekend shopping was a problem for workers.

Problem 2: The owner thought hard about how people look for books. His research suggested that a large percentage of book purchases are spontaneous, either because a customer didn’t know what they wanted or spotted something appealing while browsing for something else. So, he decided to have
tables and stands around his shops with new or interesting books to try and attract the attention of the bookworms in his stores. Spine out works well and
he still has the majority of stock in this layout, but with the added excitement for shoppers of a treasure trove of wonderful titles out on display.

Problem 3: Staff in competitor’s book shops were not knowledgeable or interested in books, so Tim Waterstone staffed his bookshops with people who
had a love for books or had knowledge of authors and book 2tles.

How To Create Your USP

Do Your Research on Competitors

If you want to stay ahead of the competition, wouldn’t it be handy to know what they’re doing? Trawl their websites, look at their online and offline flyers and adverts, check out their mail shots, sign up to their newsletters, and read their articles. See what they are doing on social media platforms and learn everything you can about them, what they do and how they sell. Look at competitors’ USPs and see if there is any way you could make an improvement, do something differently or try to identify issues their customers have and see if you can offer a solution.

Start Writing: First of all get some blank postcards. Write down some of the key features, benefits, promises and ideas for your own business, and then on another set of cards, write the same for all your competitors. Prioritise these cards in order of your target audience’s preference.

How can your company be better? Compare your company against your competitors and see how you can improve on what they have to offer. Ask
yourself, how can you improve your features, benefits, promises and customer service? You have to be unique and much better and your USP will be your marker to do this. You will then be able to measure what is needed in your particular business sector to offer a more desirable or cheaper product or service.

Your USP does not have to be a difficult task. Keep it simple. Once you come up with a few ideas, test them out with other people (friends, family business associates) as they are more likely to give you their honest opinion. Don’t be afraid to carry out research by doing online polls or asking people what ideas they like best, or if they spot loopholes in your ideas.


It can take a company many years to come up with the right USP for products, services or the entire company. Understand it’s a work of art in progress, and it’s constantly being constructed and changing as you grow and expand your business.

Take the time and find a USP that works for you.

Your USP is the force that drives your business to success. It can build your business into an empire, so it’s worth making the effort to get it right.