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Crafting your USP

Before you can begin to sell your product or service to anyone else, you have to sell yourself on it. This is especially important when your product or service is similar to others.

The key to an effective selling in this situation is having a "unique selling proposition" (USP). Unless you can pinpoint what makes your business unique in a world of homogeneous competitors, you cannot target your sales efforts successfully.

One way to start crafting your USP is to analyze how your competitors (local and global) use their USPs to their advantage. This requires careful analysis of other companies' ads and marketing messages. If you analyze what they say they sell, not just their product or service characteristics, you can learn a great deal about how companies distinguish themselves from competitors.

Here are some samples of some of favorites USPs…

Domino’s Pizza

“You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.”


“The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”

FedEx Corporation

“When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

A compelling USP should be:

  • Assertive, but defensible: A specific position that forces you to make a case against competing products is more memorable than a generic stance.

  • Focused on what your customers value: “Unique” won’t count for much if it’s not something your target customers truly care about.

  • More than a slogan: While a slogan is one way your USP can be communicated, it’s also something that you can embody in other areas of your business, from your return policy to your supply chain. You should be able to talk the talk and walk the walk.

It’s not necessarily what you sell that has to be unique, but the message you choose to focus on that your competition doesn't.

What a unique selling proposition isn't

Specific marketing offers—like 10% off, free shipping, 24/7 customer service, or a strong return policy—are not USPs. A unique selling proposition is a statement you choose to embody that differentiates your products and your brand from your competitors.

A USP is also not just the header copy on your homepage. It’s a position your small business takes as a whole that can be incorporated into your products, your brand, the experience you provide, and any other touch point your customers have with your business.

Your USP can be an effective tool that helps you focus your marketing goals and verifies that every piece of marketing collateral you create successfully sets you apart from the competition. Your USP can also be an important part of your branding that makes your business memorable.

Here are the steps for crafting your USP:

1. Go Back to the Basics

The first step of writing a USP requires that you take a step back and review some of the basics included in your mission statement, business plan, market analysis, and overall business goals.

Start by answering some preliminary questions that recap what your business is selling, who you're selling it to, and why you're selling it.

For example:

  1. What products or services are you selling?

  2. Who is your target audience?

  3. What does your business do well?

  4. What is your most important customer-focused business goal?

2. Understand your potential client.

Business is not about making money. Business is about serving people and money is just a byproduct of that service or product that we provide and or serve to people. To our potential and or existing customers. The next step in defining your USP is to put yourself in your customers shoes and think like them.

  • Put yourself in your customer's shoes. Too often, entrepreneurs fall in love with their product or service and forget that it is the customer's needs, not their own, that they must satisfy. Step back from your daily operations and carefully scrutinize what your customers really want. Remember, price is never the only reason people buy. If your competition is beating you on pricing because they are larger, you have to find another sales feature that addresses the customer's needs and then build your sales and promotional efforts around that feature.

  • Know what motivates your customers' behavior and buying decisions. Effective marketing requires you to be an amateur psychologist. You need to know what drives and motivates customers. Go beyond the traditional customer demographics, such as age, gender, race, income and geographic location, that most businesses collect to analyze their sales trends and apply psychology. And ask the why? Why will they purchase from you. What will drive them to purchase from you.

  • Uncover the real reasons customers buy your product instead of a competitor's. As your business grows, you'll be able to ask your best source of information: your customers. Plus, ask them to rate the importance of the features he offers. You will be surprised how honest people are when you ask how you can improve your service.

3. Solve their Problem

The next step is to identify your target audience's problem and explain how your product or service solves that problem. To connect with your audience quicker and effectively communicate your solution in one sentence. It could be your slogan.

4. Research the competition.

Who are your competitors and what are their USPs? Look for gaps where you can potentially introduce your brand differently. Products in the same category can be positioned in wildly different ways.

5. Identify the Differentiators

This step focuses on identifying what it is about your solution to your customer's problem that is different, or better than, the solution your competition offers. The value you identify here will be one of the primary reasons why your customers will choose you instead of a competitor.

The potential differentiators of our moving supply company may be that they offer sturdier boxes, less expensive boxes, complete packing solutions, same-day delivery, or exceptional customer service.

6. Make a Promise

This step combines the most important elements of the previous steps into a concise statement that embodies the value your company has to offer. Keep in mind that your USP essentially implies a promise or a pledge you are making to your customers.

Once you have a working USP, it's always a good idea to sleep on it, run it by others in your company, or even create a focus group to measure the impact it has. It may take several tries, but once you hit the perfect USP, it can be an integral element of your marketing toolbox.

7. Think about viable ways to apply it across your business.

Now, put it all together in one sentence that is memorable enough to use as an advertising slogan

Next, use your USP in your advertising, in your emails to customers, on your website, in all your social media postings like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Also, use it for all your marketing and promotional materials, wherever it might get the attention of potential customers. Don't miss a beat. Don't deviate.

Applied properly, a USP can be woven into different areas of your business, from your brand name to your return policy to reinforce the idea to your customers.

If you are just starting out, you won't have a lot of customers to ask yet, so "shop" your competition instead. Many retailers routinely drop into their competitors' stores to see what and how they are selling. If you're really brave, try asking a few of the customers after they leave the premises what they like and dislike about the competitors' products and services.

Once you've gone through the process, you need to take the next and hardest step: clearing your mind of any preconceived ideas about your product or service and being brutally honest. What features of your business jump out at you as something that sets you apart? What can you promote that will make customers want to patronize your business? How can you position your business to highlight your USP?

Don't get discouraged. Successful entrepreneurship is not about having a unique product or service; it's about making your product stand out even in a market filled with similar items.

Your products don’t need to be wholly unique in and of themselves for you to have a strong unique selling proposition. Instead, look for a spot in the market where you can plant your flag that is relatively untouched by the competition.

There may be a dozen ways you could sell your products, but your USP is the big idea that best positions your brand according to what your customers care about and what your competitors aren’t.

If you would like guidance reach out to me…

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