Marketing

What Is a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

What Is a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
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What is a unique selling proposition (USP)? A unique selling proposition is simply the business version of an elevator speech.  A USP is sometimes also called a unique value statement. 

Simply selling without offering value to your buyer never works, and a powerful USP will immediately signal to your prospects how you are different from and better than other options.

Great brands have distilled their product or service description down to a one-liner that establishes the company or offering as a “must buy” option.

The best USPs follow these simple guidelines:

  • Unique: The statement must clearly distinguish what you’re selling from everything else that falls into the category. If you took your brand’s name out of that statement and substituted your competitor’s would it still hold true?
  • Selling: You must convey WHY someone needs what you’re offering. What is the benefit (short- or long-term) that they’ll get from your product or service?
  • Proposition: The dictionary definition of this word is a “declarative statement.” Great USPs should not be tentative or filled with lots of jargon. Claiming superiority, in a way that’s meaningful to your customer, is at the core of a great USP.

Once you’ve created a powerful USP, it should be the guiding principle behind your marketing messaging. It should be confident, assertive, short, and credible.

5 great unique selling propositions (and why)

More than a tagline or advertising slogan, these unique selling propositions have come to be closely associated with the brands that created them.

Whether you’re a large global brand or a start-up SMB, being able to articulate what makes your company (or yourself) unique is critical.

  1. “A diamond is forever.” De Beers developed their USP in 1948 and it clearly establishes their brand as timeless.
  2. “We have the right fit.” Women have virtually unlimited options for buying undergarments but often grapple with sizing. This declarative and credible statement from Third Love simply confirms why the search for the perfect bra should start at their company.
  3. “The easiest way to make a podcast.” Technology companies often grapple with creating their USPs, focusing on features and functionality rather than customer value. This simple, declarative, and powerful statement from Anchor removes whatever barriers the shopper might have.
  4. “Love your beverage or let us know. We’ll always make it right.” Service delivery has become an increasingly more important aspect of how brands work, especially in a category that’s becoming more cluttered. Although many companies can serve coffee and tea, only Starbucks declares that they will deliver exactly what the consumer wants, every time.
  5. “We give a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair you purchase.” This USP from TOMs differs from many others in that the focus is not just on the product itself but on the soul (or is that sole?) of the brand. They have clearly established themselves as a company that cares about underserved markets and uses its charitable culture as the distinguishing factor.

Start building your own USP

As with all great marketing strategies, you need to start with who your target customer is, what they value, and how you can deliver something that your competitors cannot.

Above all, you need to be sure that what you’re promising is credible and that everyone in your organization is committed to living up to that promise.

As you go through the process, choose every word carefully. Look at examples, like the ones above. Engage your team in its creation. Fine-tune, edit, and then fine-tune again. Sometimes the shortest statements can be the hardest ones to create. But the best ones are timeless!

Whether you're a large global brand or a start-up SMB, being able to articulate what makes your company (or yourself) unique is critical. Learn more about #uniquesellingpropositions #USP #marketing Click To Tweet

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About the author

Nancy Shenker

Nancy A. Shenker has been an independent consultant, writer, and speaker for more than 15 years, following a career as a C-level marketing executive. Her company theONswitch provides virtual CMO services. A content strategist and writer, she is the author of four books and publisher of five business and lifestyle websites. Her passions are humanistic tech, food, gadgets, and travel.