A unique selling proposition (USP) is the reason your product or service is different from the competition and answers the customer’s question, “Why should I buy your product instead of someone else’s?” Creating one for your business means identifying the factors that set you apart and crafting a message that ties them to your customer’s needs.
How a Unique Selling Proposition Works
A unique selling proposition (USP) differentiates your product or service from those of your competitors. Sometimes it is used as a slogan that appears on marketing materials, but a USP is always more than a simple slogan. It is essentially what makes you unique. For example, years ago, as Amazon was becoming the most popular place to purchase online, it offered free two-day shipping to its Prime members.
For many users, the barrier to purchasing something online was that there was always a shipping cost involved, which meant that the purchase would be more expensive. Amazon, at the time, was unique in that it would ship it to you in two days for free. Amazon’s USP addressed a specific pain point its customers had with shopping online.
Not only was Amazon’s two-day shipping model unique among online sellers, but it also removed the barrier that might have otherwise prevented shoppers from purchasing products online that they would normally purchase in a physical retail location. As a result, the company’s efforts transformed Amazon from a niche online bookseller to the largest online retail site it is today.
Real-world Unique Selling Proposition Examples
Here are a few other real-world examples of USPs that show how businesses use them to not only gain attention for their brand but set their products and service apart in a way that addresses their customers’ needs directly. These examples demonstrate what it looks like to have a clear selling point that communicates to a customer why they should choose the company’s products over a competitor.
Pro tip: A unique selling proposition is more than just a slogan. There are many marketing slogans that are catchy but don’t clearly explain what is unique about the product or service. They create a memorable phrase that a customer associates it with. To communicate a unique selling proposition, the “slogan” has to tell the customer exactly what’s different about the product compared to its competitors.
Here are five examples of unique selling propositions.
1. FedEx Corporation
“When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
For a long time, FedEx had one of the best examples of a unique selling proposition. In comparison to its competitors, FedEx promised that it would reliably deliver any package, anywhere, overnight. To a customer, the choice was clear: if it had to be there, and it had to be there by tomorrow, FedEx was the answer.
Although FedEx doesn’t use this anymore, it was more than a slogan. It defined the customer’s pain point perfectly and offered a solution that was easy to understand and connect with the brand. At the time, there was no other service that offered the same level of scale for overnight delivery, and FedEx created a position for itself as the most reliable partner before anyone else entered that space.
“We are a design brand predicated on meaningful American job creation through the manufacturing of timeless, well-designed goods.”
Shinola makes products like watches, bicycles, and leather goods. While its products are impeccable, what sets it apart from its competitors is that it is focused on manufacturing its products in the United States, instead of having them made overseas and importing them. Most of its competitors import goods from countries that have extremely low labor costs; Shinola is unique by focusing on not just making products, but creating American jobs as well.
By setting itself apart in this way, Shinola has established that it stands for something. In addition to delivering high-quality products, it does so in the U.S. and is creating excellent manufacturing jobs. Because of this, there are people who are more likely to purchase its products because of their values and what they represent.
“15 minutes or less could save you 15% off car insurance.”
GEICO offers a unique selling proposition that resonates with anyone who has tried to buy car insurance online. The USP doesn’t just communicate that it can save you money, but that it can do so while saving you time as well. Compared to the experience of buying insurance through an agent, which requires making an appointment, listening to a sales pitch, and waiting for a quote, GEICO makes it clear that its process is quick and painless, and can save you money.
Because people had been used to purchasing insurance through a local agent for years, GEICO demonstrated that it offers a different way to find coverage that is quick and relatively painless. It also entices potential customers to give it a try since they “might save 15%.”
“Introducing Thrillshare: A simple tool to define your identity.”
In the education sphere, educators face the challenge of keeping their school communities updated in multiple technology channels. As parents and families expect school updates on the school website, email, social media channels, and mobile apps, educators found themselves with little time and too few staff to keep every channel updated independently.
Apptegy created a USP with its proprietary publishing platform, Thrillshare. They not only provided school districts with modern-looking websites and mobile apps, but with Thrillshare, they gave schools the ability to update their website, Facebook page, mobile app, Twitter, send text messages, push notifications, email, and phone calls from one central platform—even from their smartphone as things in the school happen.
5. Saddleback Leather
“They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.”
Saddleback creates a compelling USP with a slogan that conveys that their quality-made leather products will last longer than your own life. They also promote their 100-year warranty, which is arguably more powerful than the trite “lifelong warranty” some companies offer, since Saddleback’s warranty will likely extend beyond your own life.
Longevity carries an excellent USP for higher-priced items in a world where cheaply made products have us purchasing more products over a longer period of time and spending more money over the long run. They also position themselves well as providing a well-made product you’ll want to pass down to family members across generations.
How to Create a Unique Selling Proposition in 5 Steps
Because a unique selling proposition communicates what is different and special about how you serve your customers, it is important to understand both their needs as well as how you can uniquely serve those needs. These five steps will walk you through the process of clarifying and defining your unique selling proposition.
1. Start With Your Target Audience
It might seem counterintuitive to start with your customers when you are considering what is unique about your business but, in reality, it is their pain point you want to address. Clarify what it is that matters most to them and, specifically, what ways your business can address it. Since your USP is what you use to communicate why a customer should buy from you, understanding their needs will inform each of the following steps.
Ask yourself the following questions and make a list of the answers:
- Who are my customers, and what are their pain points?
- What is the specific problem I solve for my customer?
- Why is this a challenge that is important for them to overcome?
- What are the factors that matter most in their decision-making process?
- Why would they choose one provider over another?
2. Identify & Understand Your Competition
In addition to your target customers, it is just as important to understand your competition. One of your sales goals should be to differentiate yourself from your competitors, which means knowing who they are and how they operate. One of the reasons this is so important is that if your competitor is selling their product based on the fact that they are the fastest, you want to find something different since “fastest” isn’t unique. Someone is already doing that.
Another reason your competition is an important factor in determining your USP is that your unique factors are in comparison to anyone else providing the same or similar products and services. If you sell something that is very complex, but you’ve found a way to make it extremely simple, that would also make it unique.
3. List Out How Your Solution Is Unique
Make a list of the ways that your product or solution is different from your competition. For example, maybe you use materials that no one else does or have a proprietary manufacturing process. Another example would be if you help your customers make a difference by donating a percentage of each sale to a specific cause or a nonprofit organization.
Furthermore, “best” is not a unique selling proposition. Neither is “least expensive.” There will almost always be someone able to find a way to do what you do better and cheaper. It is important to identify what you are doing that is unique and creates a competitive advantage compared to your industry or market.
4. Define Your USP
Once you have looked at both your target customers and your competition and have made a list of what is unique about your product, you can combine those into a USP, which can then also serve as a cornerstone for your sales management strategy. Think about how it will be received by your target customer and use language that resonates with them.
Avoid using overly technical language or insider phrases that make sense to you but mean nothing to anyone outside of your company. The goal is to be clear and direct. Your USP should be no longer than a sentence or two―at the most. It should explain what is unique about your company in a way that addresses your customer’s needs.
For example, Domino’s Pizza had a simple USP for many years that said, “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.” Clearly, it addressed something that was important to its customers and made a guarantee that they offered a solution faster than their competition.
A well-crafted, unique selling proposition should:
- Be simple to understand: The goal is to make it clear and simple so that there is no confusion about what is unique about your product. Your USP shouldn’t try to explain everything but, rather, be brief and clear enough that anyone can understand.
- Set you apart from your competitors: Your USP should be a direct comparison to your competitors, even though it shouldn’t mention them specifically. It should highlight the difference that sets you apart and clearly defines you as the best choice for the customer.
- Relate to your customer’s specific needs: Ultimately, your USP needs to address the specific pain points you identified as being most important to your customers and show how you understand and address them.
- Easily permeate your brand: While your USP doesn’t have to become your marketing slogan, it should be represented by your overall brand. You don’t want to have a disconnect between what you say is unique and the way you talk about your products overall.
- Be instantly recognizable: You don’t want to craft a USP that is easily confused with another company since that means that you haven’t done a good enough job of defining what makes you unique. Your USP should remind people of your brand.
5. Integrate Your USP Into Your Sales Strategy
Once you have articulated your USP, it is important that you integrate it into your overall sales strategy. It should become the way you talk about your products when engaging with customers and should be present in all of your marketing and sales materials. That doesn’t mean you plaster it throughout your website, however. Rather, it means that it should reinforce what it is that you say is unique about your product and company.
One of the most important ways to integrate your USP is to train your sales team to use it to position your products during consultative selling. As your salespeople identify your customer’s needs during the sales process, they can use the USP to demonstrate the value you offer in contrast to other options that are available to your prospect.
Why Having a Unique Selling Proposition Matters
A unique selling proposition is used primarily in two ways. First, it is used by marketers to communicate what a company stands for and is often present in marketing materials. It helps define a company’s position in the market and attracts prospects and customers who would be served by the company’s specific selling point.
Second, it is used by sales teams to position products in direct comparison to the competition. A good USP should be able to be used easily by a sales representative in a conversation with a prospect to help them make a buying decision. It can also be used to address customer objections by providing clarification about how your product is different than others on the market.
Here are a few specific roles that benefit from measuring churn rate:
- Business owners: Business owners should have a clearly defined USP for their business since it is an important factor in attracting new leads, addressing their needs, and converting them to customers.
- Sales teams: Sales team members use unique selling propositions to explain why a customer should choose their company’s products or services and address objections that arise during the consultative selling process.
- Marketing teams: Marketing teams use USPs to communicate what a company stands for through various marketing channels like brochures, on their website, or social media channels.
The Benefits of a Unique Selling Proposition
Creating a unique selling proposition has several benefits for your company since it forces you to consider what is unique about your product or service and how it addresses your customer’s needs. Ultimately, those benefits result in a clearer sales plan and increased sales as you attract the right type of customers and can meet their needs successfully.
A few of the most significant benefits of USPs include:
- Clarifying what your company stands for: Some companies have very specific USPs that define who they are. For example, Toms Shoes donates a pair of shoes for every pair you purchase, which communicates its values as a company.
- Creating leverage against your competition: If your USP truly represents what is unique about your company, it should be easy for your sales team to use that to your advantage, since presumably none of your competitors will be able to say the same thing.
- Eliminate customer confusion: A well-crafted USP will make it clear to a customer what you stand for and what you offer, reducing the chances that they will be confused about either one.
- Overcoming customer objections: When a customer tells you that they have a specific concern or have been frustrated by another provider, a USP can help you move past that by showing how you and your products and services are different.
- More satisfied customers: Because your unique selling proposition defines how you are different to the customer, it can help manage expectations and increase customer satisfaction since they have a clear understanding of what you offer and why you are unique—which also increases the chance they will refer your business to other people in their network.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How is a selling point different from a sales pitch?
A sales pitch is a standard description of a product or service, and its benefits to a customer that a salesperson can easily remember and share with a prospect. A good sales pitch should include the product or company’s unique selling proposition since it is an attempt to convince a prospect that they should consider a specific product or service and should include what makes it unique compared to the competition.
Can I have more than one USP?
While you should have one unique selling proposition defined for your company, it’s also appropriate in some cases to have specific USPs for different products or services. This is especially true if those products address different customer segments or needs.
Defining your unique selling proposition is one of the most important things you can do to give your sales team what it needs to win more deals effectively. It will help them qualify prospects and overcome objections, resulting in happier customers and more sales revenue, creating a victory for both you and your customers.
Once you’ve defined your unique selling proposition, you’ll need a way to measure whether your sales process is attracting the right types of customers. HubSpot CRM can help you keep track of leads and customers, manage deals, and monitor your sales cycle. Visit their website to sign up for a free account.