6 Steps to Creating a Unique Selling Proposition

What is a USP?

A USP is one of the fundamental pieces of any solid marketing campaign. Simply stated, it’s a summary of what makes your business unique and valuable to your target market. It answers the question: How do your business services benefit your clients better than anyone else can?

A USP can give a great deal of clarity to your business model, what your company does and why you do it. It can define your business and most important business goals in just a sentence.

Successful USPs can be used as a company slogan and should be incorporated into all of your marketing activities.

OK, now that we’re clear on what a USP is and why it’s so valuable, let’s start creating one.

Step 1: Describe Your Target Audience

Before you can even start marketing your services, you need to know who you are targeting. In this step, you want to be as specific as possible. For example, if you are a Web developer with a CMS expertise, instead of targeting anyone who needs helping building or modifying a CMS, you may identify your target client as a small business owner who is looking for a developer well-versed in MODx to customize his/her site.

Step 2: Explain the Problem You Solve

From your prospective clients’ perspective, what is the individual need or challenge they face that your business can solve for them?

Step 3: List the Biggest Distinctive Benefits

In this step, list 3-5 of the biggest benefits a client gets from choosing to work with you that they could not get from someone else (i.e., what sets you apart from your competition). Again, thinking from the clients’ perspective, these benefits should explain why your services are important to them and why they would choose you over another provider.

Step 4: Define Your Promise

A big part of a successful USP is making a pledge to your clients. While this can be implied instead of spelled out in your USP, write down this promise you make to your clients in this step.

Step 5: Combine and Rework

Once you’ve completed steps 1-4, take all of the information you listed and combine it into one paragraph. There should be some recurring ideas and thoughts, so you’ll want to start merging statements and rewriting in a way that flows and makes sense.

Step 6: Cut it Down

In this step, take your paragraph from step 5 and condense it even more into just a sentence. You want your final USP to be as specific and simple as possible.

Take your time while doing this exercise and do several drafts over the course of a week until you arrive at your final USP. A fresh mind and perspective is essential, so I would recommend doing this at the beginning of your day versus at the end when you are tired. You also may want to come back and do this exercise again, once you try out your USP for a while, or if anything changes with your business.

Let’s look at a few famous USP examples:

  • “Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.” Domino’s Pizza
  • “The breakfast of champions” Wheaties
  • “The thirst quencher” Gatorade
  • “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

Tips to creating your USP

Get a Big Stack of 3×5 Cards & Start Writing

I got this tip from Dan Kennedy’s book “The Ultimate Marketing Plan.”  This one really helped me and I’m sure you’ll benefit as well.

Get out your 3×5 cards.  On each card, write down just one fact, feature, benefit, promise, or idea: one per card, until you’ve exhausted the process.  This should include your business as well as your competitor’s. Then prioritize the cards in order of importance to your customers.

This exercise can help you create a possible USP along with other supporting sales material.

Filling Out Your W9

You’ve got less than one minute to prove your business is worth trying and buying from.  This W9 questionnaire created by Sam Horn, author of the book “Pop”, is brilliant.

It will help you create a possible USP. It will also help you communicate your business/product more effectively to your customers.

  • What am I offering?
  • What problem does my idea or offering solve?
  • Why is it worth trying and buying?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • Who am I and what are my credentials?
  • Who are my competitors and how am I different from them?
  • What resistance or objections will people have to this?
  • What is the purpose of my pitch?
  • When, where, and how do I want people to take action?

Fill In The Blanks

Here’s another exercise which you might find beneficial. Just fill in the blanks.

I help/teach: ___________ (specific market)
Get/help: ____________ (specific high valued benefits)
Even if: ___________ (believe worst case scenario)

Example: I help chiropractors get customers from Yelp even if they have a 1 star rating.

Look At Unique Selling Propositions Examples from Other Businesses

I’ve found that by looking at other business USP’s it helps jog the brain and get ideas for my own. I would never start with a clean slate.  Instead, I would swipe USP’s in other categories of businesses that with a little tweaking could be my own.

Research 10 Competitors In Your Niche

You always want to know what you’re up against.  Study their website, yellow page ad, or direct mail piece.

Write down their USP if they have one.  Is there a way you can improve their USP?  Any ideas here you can swipe for your own USP?

There you are.  Please take this to heart and do up your USP, then use it in all of your marketing.  IN EVERYTHING!

Your’s in business,



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