What Is a Unique Selling Proposition & How Do I Create One?
As an entrepreneur, you may know that creating a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for your business is important.
But what is a USP, exactly?
And more importantly, how can you go about creating one for your own business?
Let’s take a closer look at Unique Selling Propositions, why you need one, and how to create one.
What Is a Unique Selling Proposition?
A Unique Selling Proposition is a sentence that explains what makes your company unique. It tells customers why they should do business with you instead of one of your competitors.
A Unique Selling Proposition is a one-sentence description of what makes your company unique and valuable to its target audience. It’s a clear statement that explains why a customer should do business with you instead of one of your competitors.
A USP is sometimes referred to as a unique selling point. While it’s not the original term, it conveys the concept well. It’s a company’s main selling point and shapes your brand, market positioning, marketing messages and techniques, and client interaction. Defining your Unique Selling Proposition is an essential part of successful business planning.
Why Is a Unique Selling Proposition Important to My Marketing Strategy?
Your USP is important because it’s what sets you apart from your competition. It’s the key to winning new business and retaining loyal customers. Your USP should be clear, concise, and easy for prospective customers to understand.
If you invest effort in developing a compelling USP, you can use it across all of your digital marketing communications, interactions, and business branding. Your USP, when paired with your mission statement, can give a lot of clarity to your business model, what you do and why you do it.
When creating or revising your company’s USP, keep these factors in mind:
- Your target market: who are you targeting and what needs or desires do they have?
- What makes your company unique: what are your strengths and how can you capitalize on them?
- The benefits of doing business with you: what value do you offer customers that they can’t find elsewhere?
- How will you communicate your USP: what materials or slogans will you use to get the message across in your digital marketing or physical collateral?
Narrowing in on your target audience, assessing your competitors, and taking a straightforward look at what you have to offer are all part of the process of establishing a unique selling proposition.
Uncovering Competitive Advantage
You can learn a lot by exploring how your business sits in relation to target customer needs and your competition’s positioning. Aside from honing in on messaging that will be more effective for you, you will better understand your customer pain points and better understand opportunities for developing your competitive advantage.
Take a look at what your competitors are doing and figure out how you can set yourself apart. By analyzing your competition, identifying their strengths and weaknesses, and visualizing how these elements will influence customer experience, you can begin to craft a unique selling proposition that is authentic to your company.
In other words, what do you have that they don’t?
What are your company’s strengths? How can you capitalize and use them to your advantage?
Creating a strong unique selling proposition isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort. When done correctly, it will help you attract new customers, differentiate your business from the competition, and convey the value you offer.
How to Create a Unique Selling Proposition in 6 Steps
While creating a unique selling proposition can be a challenge, it’s important for businesses to find a way to stand out from the competition.
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for creating a Unique Selling Proposition, but there are some key steps you can take to develop an effective USP for your business:
- Define your target market. Find out what benefits your target customers are looking for.
- Identify what makes your product or service unique. Identify your competition, what they’re offering, how your offering differs, and which marketing messages are working for other brands.
- Position your USP to highlight benefits. Highlight the benefits of doing business with you. in a way that’s appealing to your target customers.
- Make your USP clear and concise. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.
- Test and revise your USP. Make sure it’s working, and iterate as needed or test new ideas.
- Promote your Unique Selling Proposition. Get the word out there about what makes you different.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these stages in detail.
1. Define Your Target Market & Conduct Market Research
Before you can even start marketing your services, you need to know your target market.
You then need to understand your market. That means finding out what benefits your customers are looking for.
Many entrepreneurs don’t realize that crafting a USP isn’t about inventing something new. It’s about identifying what makes your business unique and focusing on those benefits for your target market.
In this step, you must be as specific as possible.
Identify a market to focus on.
If you are a web developer advertising services, targeting anyone who needs help with a website will lead to messaging that is too broad, vague, or bland to work optimally.
It can be challenging to pick a direction if your marketing has favored a general approach before. Evaluate your skills (or product features), unmet needs you identify during this research, and gaps amongst the competition.
Especially for freelancers and small businesses, it can be useful to explore your ideal customer, client, or work engagement. What kind of work do you want to be doing?
These considerations provide you with a starting point for research that narrows down the scope.
Here are some examples of an ideal customer that a web developer might identify:
- A small business owner looking for a WordPress expert to customize their site.
- Startups that need to get their products or services online quickly.
- Businesses that want to increase their online presence.
- Organizations that need to replace their current website (and its developer) after a problematic engagement.
Research your target market’s needs and wants.
Once you know who your target market is, it’s time to do some primary and secondary research to figure out what benefits they’re looking for. This can include surveys, interviews, and online forums.
Look for trends in the data you collect. Are people gravitating towards a specific benefit or solution that your business can provide?
What are the specific problems or issues that your target market is experiencing? What are they looking for in a product or service to solve these issues or meet these needs?
Some of this research can be done online, but you’ll also want to talk to your target market directly – such as through surveys and interviews.
Again, it’s important to be as specific as possible. Don’t try to guess what your target market wants. Ask them!
2. Identify Your Product or Service’s Unique Features
Identify your competition and research what they’re offering.
It’s not enough to know what your target market wants. You can’t sell your products or services without knowing what makes them unique. And you won’t be able to create a powerful USP if you don’t know who your competition is, and how they are different from you.
You also need to understand what your competition is offering – and how you can do it better.
Your competition could be direct or indirect. To find out, you’ll need to do some online research as well as talk to people in your target market.
Here are some questions to consider as you research your competition:
- Who are your main competitors?
- What services or products do they offer?
- What is their USP?
- Is it working? What do people think of them? (You can find this out through online reviews, social media, and forums)
Once you’ve answered these questions, you should have a good understanding of what your competition is doing and how you can differentiate yourself.
3. Develop Your Messaging & Position Your Unique Selling Point
Now that you know who your target market is, what they want, and how you can deliver that better than your competition, you can start pulling together your Unique Selling Proposition.
Develop your messaging.
Your messaging should be clear and relevant to your target market. It should also be different from what your competition is offering.
- Identify the main benefit or key differentiator that you offer. Choose one or two key differentiators that set you apart. You might have uncovered a number of options, and you need to decide which value proposition is most appealing and best meets target market needs. This could be a solution to a specific problem, a new or unique feature, or an unbeatable price.
- Communicate it in a way that’s simple and to the point. Don’t try to cram in every benefit or differentiator identified during research. The ideal Unique Selling Proposition fits in one sentence. It’s a focusing tool that cuts through the noise and grabs attention.
- Make sure your messaging is relevant to your target market. Don’t try to appeal to everyone – it’s impossible and will lead to bland messaging. You’ll refine this next, but your copy will work best when you speak your target market’s language from the start.
- Focus on what makes you unique. Remember those differentiators that set you apart from the competition? This is where they come into play.
Position Unique Selling Propositions to highlight benefits for prospective customers.
Highlight the benefits of doing business with you in a way that’s appealing to your target customers.
Simply defined, market positioning is a process that aims to establish a brand’s or product’s identity and image in the minds of target consumers.
It’s about figuring out how you want customers to think of you and then delivering on that promise. Done well, it can be extremely effective in gaining market share or increasing sales.
When we developed the base of our messaging, our focus was on our own products and services and what they can bring to the table. When communicating that to potential customers, we want to flip the focus to the end result for them.
Here are some tips for doing so:
- Highlight the benefits of doing business with you. Don’t focus on features. What’s in it for the customer?
- Be specific. Vague statements like “we’re the best” or “we’re the cheapest” are not going to cut it. You need to be specific about what makes you different and why customers should care.
- Use strong language and powerful imagery. You have seconds to grab attention in a crowded market. Use emotive language to really drive home your message.
- Make it easy to understand your USP. Use simple, straightforward language that packs a punch. The benefit should be immediately clear to prospective customers. Don’t achieve a concise USP by relying on abstract, literary, and idiomatic expressions.
- Make it believable. Customers are not going to believe you if you make claims that are far-fetched or impossible to deliver on. Be honest and realistic in your USP.
- Support it with proof. If you can back up your USP with facts, data, or testimonials in surrounding copy, you’ll help customers feel confident that you’re truly different from the competition.
4. A Strong Unique Selling Proposition Is Clear & Concise.
Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.
A strong Unique Selling Proposition is clear and concise so that your audience can understand what you’re offering and how it benefits them.
You might have noticed a theme here, so much so that boiling your message down to achieve the most impact in the fewest words deserves its own step in the process.
Here are some tips for clarifying your unique selling point:
- Think of your USP as a memorable tagline or slogan. USPs and taglines are separate entities, but how difficult would it be to create one from your USP?
- Use active voice. Active voice is more direct, which means it takes less thought to understand. Passive voice also tends to require more complicated language, making this an easy way to eliminate unnecessary words.
- Remove any qualifiers (“almost,” “better than,” etc.) from your USP so that it is as strong and confident as possible.
- Use positive language that tells your audience what they will gain from using your product or service, rather than what they will lose.
- Make it unique. If your brand positioning communicates your differentiators using language everyone in your industry uses, it won’t be clear or memorable.
5. Test & Revise Your Unique Selling Point
Make sure your Unique Selling Proposition is working, and iterate as needed or test new ideas.
A company’s USP is the foundation of your business, so it’s important to make sure it’s working well.
Test it out regularly and revise it as needed to ensure that it’s still relevant and effective. You can also test out new ideas to see if they might be even better than your current USP.
Use social media.
Create a social post that incorporates your USP candidate on social media and see how people react. Do they share it? Do they seem confused? Engage with them in the comments to get feedback and ideas for improvement.
This is a great way to test your candidates without needing to commit to them beforehand.
Analyze your website traffic data.
Look at where your visitors are coming from and what they’re doing on your site. This will give you insight into whether or not they’re responding to your USP.
Look at your conversion rates.
If you have a higher bounce rate after making a change, this could be an indication that your USP isn’t resonating with your audience. Test out different variations and see which one works best.
Ask customers for feedback.
Get customer feedback for qualitative testing of your USP’s impact on brand identity.
Send out a survey to your customer base and ask them how they heard about you, what their initial impression was, and if they found the unique selling proposition helpful in making a decision.
You can also ask them how they found out about your company and what made them decide to do business with you.
You can also interview your customers to get their thoughts on your USP and brand strategy.
A/B test your marketing materials.
Try out different versions of your USP in your ads and on your website to see which one performs the best. A/B testing is a great way to fine-tune your message and make sure it’s resonating with your audience.
Keep track of your sales data.
Look at how well your products or services are selling over time. If you see a sudden drop in online store sales, for example, it could be a sign that your USP isn’t working well.
Whether you’re testing a new message or validating the efficacy of your existing unique selling point, this ensures that it’s always relevant and effective. Keep iterating and improving to keep your business on the top.
6. Promote Your Unique Selling Proposition
Get the word out there about what makes you different.
Make sure your website, social media, and other marketing materials highlight your unique selling proposition and inform the core of their overall message.
Talk about it in your sales conversations, and be prepared to explain why it matters to potential customers. If you can’t expand on what makes you special, it will be hard for customers to see the value.
Develop an elevator pitch that explains why people should buy from you instead of your competitors.
A USP is a key part of your elevator pitch. If you can quickly and succinctly explain what makes you different, you’ll be in a better position to close deals.
Your elevator pitch should be succinct enough that it can be conveyed from memory, but allows for more detail about your business and serves as an adaptable basis for marketing materials.
Come up with a tagline that sums up your USP in a catchy and memorable way.
A tagline is a short, memorable phrase that communicates the key benefit of your brand or product. A good tagline is driven by a clearly-defined USP.
As with your USP, it should be clear, concise, and easy to remember. A good tagline can be the difference between a successful marketing campaign and one that falls flat.
What makes a good tagline memorable?
There are a few key things that make a good tagline memorable. It should be:
- Unique: Don’t try to be like everyone else. Stand out from the crowd and be creative.
- Concise: Keep it short and sweet, no more than 10-15 words at the outside.
- Relevant: Make sure the tagline captures your product or brand.
- Energetic: Use strong, active words to capture people’s attention.
Create marketing materials that support your USP.
Create marketing materials that support your USP. Every touchpoint should reinforce what makes you different from your competition, from your primary landing page to your customer support templates. Your marketing materials should be easy to understand, visually appealing and easy to navigate.
There are endless ways to promote your USP. Get creative and think outside the box to come up with unique ways to get the word out there.
Train your team on your USP.
Make sure everyone on your team, from customer service to sales, is familiar with your unique selling point. They should be able to articulate it clearly and confidently to potential customers.
Invest in training so they can learn how to effectively communicate your USP and close sales.
Make it a part of your brand identity.
Your USP should be a central part of your overall brand identity. It should inform everything: your messaging, visual identity, content marketing, landing pages, email marketing, and beyond.
Consistency is key when it comes to branding. If your USP changes with every new campaign, people will get confused and lose trust in you.
Your unique selling proposition should be a key part of your branding and marketing efforts.
It should be reflected in everything you do, from the words you use to the way you interact with customers, and from your marketing to your customer service.
Keep your messaging consistent across all channels. Have a clear, concise message that you stick to throughout your marketing materials, website, content marketing, and other customer-facing communications.
Remember: consistency is key when it comes to establishing a strong brand identity.
Continue to measure and optimize.
In the previous step, we validated our new USP messaging. But market needs and tastes change. It’s important to continue validating and refining your USP over time.
Whether you’re publishing a new landing page or redesigning an entire online store, keep track of how well your unique selling proposition is working. Measure its impact on sales, customer loyalty, and other key metrics.
Make tweaks as needed to improve results. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it up. But always make sure you know what’s working and why, so you can continue to replicate success.
Keys to a Successful Unique Selling Proposition
We’ve explored the process of creating a USP in detail, and there’s a lot of work ahead. To ensure you stay focused and get the right result, it can be helpful to bear these key factors in mind.
- Benefit-focused: A great USP should be benefit-focused. It should make it clear what your product or service can do for the customer, not just what it is.
- Simple, clear, concise, consistent: Keep your USP simple and easy to understand. This isn’t the time to get creative with complicated language – you want your customers to be able to easily remember what you offer.
- Unique and differentiable: Make sure your USP is different from that of your competitors. If it’s not, then it won’t be very effective in helping you stand out from the crowd.
- Authentic: Be sure that your USP is authentic – in other words, it’s something you can truly deliver on. There’s no point making promises you can’t keep, as this will only damage your reputation in the long run.
- Positive, impactful, and memorable: You want your USP to be something that leaves a positive impression on customers and is easy for them to remember.
Like a good USP, there should be no surprises here! These key factors are all recurring themes throughout the process. Treat them like a cheat sheet for quick reference wherever you are in the process.
Now that you know the keys to creating successful unique selling points, it’s time to get to work. Follow these steps and make sure you stay focused on delivering a message that resonates with your customers. Remember: consistency is key when it comes to branding, so be sure to keep your USP front and center in all of your marketing efforts.