What Is a USP? The Complete Unique Selling Proposition Guide
Your USP can make or break your business.
Because if your customers don’t immediately know you’re better than the competition, they’re going elsewhere.
So what is a USP? It’s the Unique Selling Point, Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or Unique Value Proposition (UVP). It’s the quickest way to get your value across to your customers. Aka the elevator speech of online businesses.
So whether you’re a solopreneur writing your own website copy, a new copywriter or anyone in marketing, this post helps you write a crystal-clear unique selling proposition without stress and confusion.
What Is a USP?
Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is what makes your product better than the competition for your target audience.
In other words, your USP is the reason the customer goes with you instead of your competitors. It’s the one feature (or sometimes combo of features) that are unique to your product or service.
Maybe it’s a unique feature your product has that no competitor has thought of. Or it’s something you do way better than your competition. It might even be the reason you started your business! You saw a need no one was filling and decided to fill it yourself.
Why Your USP Is Important
A strong USP makes you stand out from your competitors and unforgettable in the minds of your target audience!
You want it to be clear, specific, compelling and memorable so it immediately grabs your target audience’s attention and sticks in their mind long after they’ve read it.
But here’s the thing: you don’t need to attract everyone out there with your USP. You just need to attract your ideal customers that like what you’ve got more than they like your competitors.
What Businesses Need to Use a Unique Selling Proposition?
Every business needs to advertise their USP, but if your business is in a heavily saturated niche, it’s especially important to nail it.
Let me give you an example. If Bob’s Bushcraft is the only business offering bushcraft classes in San Diego, it’s a lot easier to stand out because it’s the only option for anyone searching “bushcraft classes San Diego”. Bob isn’t really sweating his USP (at least not until there’s competition).
But if 4 other bushcraft businesses open up in San Diego, Bob has a problem. He now needs to differentiate his business from all the others so his ideal customers find him. Because it’s unlikely he’s the perfect fit for every bushcraft enthusiast. Some people may like Betty’s Bushcraft classes more because she’s vegan and incorporates everyone’s horoscope into the lessons (see how I just snuck Betty’s USP in there?).
So Bob needs to identify what he’s really good at and also what types of customers he wants to choose his business over all the others. Bob starts asking questions, reading reviews from his previous customers and listing off everything he does really well in his business. He determines that his happiest clients were families with young children, and those also happened to be his best experiences because he has a large family and loves kids. Bob goes ahead and rewrites his marketing materials with his new USP:
Bob’s Bushcraft | The Top Choice for Families Looking to Learn Bushcraft Together (Kids Welcome!!)
Or a shortened, catchier version: Bob’s Bushcraft: Where families learn bushcraft.
How to Identify Your USP
Are you better, faster, cheaper or stronger? Do you offer better customer service? Impressive guarantees? Do you allow returns?
The level of difficulty for writing your USP comes down to how well you know 3 things:
- Your industry (the competitive landscape),
- your product/service
- and your customer.
Answering the questions below for your product or service will help you better understand those 3 things and identify your USP.
Get to Know the Competitive Landscape Questions:
- What do my top 3 competitors do really well?
- How am I different from my competitors? / How is my product different than alternatives to my product?
- What is currently missing from the industry that I can offer?
- What do customers dislike about my competitors that I can capitalize on? (read their reviews if possible)
- What do customers love about my competitors that I can do even better? (read their reviews if possible)
Get to Know Your Product or Service Questions:
- What is my business/product really good at? (If you are your business it could be something you personally do really well or have a background in. Something that sets you apart or makes you an expert.)
- What do I want my product or service to be known for?
- What do I offer or what can I (reasonably) offer that goes above and beyond my competitors?
Get to Know Your Customer Questions:
- What are my customers’ problems? (aka what problems does your product solve?)
- What questions do my customers ask?
- What is standing in the way of my target audience buying my products/services? (doubt, fear, money, missing information, etc)
- What do my current customers already love about my products/services?
Once you answer these questions, you should have a good idea of the 1 feature or combination of features that makes your business unique and more desirable to your target audience.
Unique Selling Proposition Templates
Your USP needs to separate you from your competitors, accurately convey what your product or service is and does well, and do it all in a way that is irresistible to your target audience.
Unique Selling Proposition Template #1
Brand Name | [What your product or service is] for [target audience] that want [target audience desire] [how you do it differently]
Bob’s Bushcraft | [Bushcraft Classes] for [Families] That Want [to Learn Bushcraft Together (Kids Welcome!!!)]
Swell Copy | Copywriting Courses for Entrepreneurs That Want to Write Their Own Copy Without Getting Stressed or Overwhelmed
Sharp Look | The Electric Razor for Gentlemen That Want a Bump-Free Shave in 3 Minutes
Unique Selling Proposition Template #2
[Business Name] | The Top Choice for [ideal audience] looking to [verb] [product/service offering and USP]
Bob’s Bushcraft | The Top Choice for [Families With Small Children] Looking to [Learn] Bushcraft Together
Swell Copy | The Top Choice for Entrepreneurs Looking to Write Copy That Sells Without the Stress or Confusion
Sharp Look | The Top Choice for Working Men That Need a Smooth Shave in Under 3 Minutes
Unique Selling Proposition Template #3
We [solve a problem] with/without [unique benefit].
(Bob’s Bushcraft) We teach bushcraft classes to families in a way that’s fun for every age.
(Swell Copy) We teach you how to write copy for your business with plenty of examples so you’re never overwhelmed or confused.
(Sharp Look) Our electric razor gives you a smooth, bump-free shave without taking 30 minutes of your morning.
Unique Selling Proposition Template #4
What product/service is + what I’m really good at + what my customers want.
Bushcraft Classes That Are a Blast for All Ages (really good with kids and customers want it to be fun for the whole family)
Copywriting Courses that teach beginners step-by-step copywriting tactics they can implement immediately.
The Electric Razor That Gives You the Smoothest Shave in Under 3 Minutes
Examples of Value Propositions
Once you figure out your USP, you’ll repurpose it and use it in a million different ways throughout your marketing, so the templates are really only useful for narrowing down the idea and giving you a format to get started. As you’ll see below, USPs come in all shapes and sizes!
- Warby Parker: “Try 5 frames at home for free”
- TOMS Shoes: “One for one.” Or the longer version: “With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need.”
- Costco: “low warehouse prices on name-brands products”
- GEICO: “Save 15% or more on car insurance” – What is it? Car insurance! How are they different than other car insurance companies? They’ll save me money! How much much? 15% or more!
- Valvoline Instant Oil Change: “Open to serve you with drive-thru, stay-in-your-car oil changes”
How to Use Your USP
A clear Unique Selling Point reminds both you and your customer why you matter. It also serves as a guide for the rest of your marketing strategy.
You want your USP front and center on your home page and reiterated throughout your website, emails and ads. It’s what you lead with whenever you’re speaking to potential customers that are researching their options. If they are in your target audience, your USP should tell them that you’re the right choice for them immediately.
What Is a USP Key Takeaways
- What is a USP? Unique Sell Point, Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or Unique Value Proposition (UVP). It’s what makes your product better than the competition for your target audience.
- Why is it important? It makes you stand out from your competitors and unforgettable in the minds of your target audience.
- Where to use your USP? Use your USP across all your marketing materials. On your home page, about page, ads and emails.
- Questions to ask to discover your USP?
- What do you do really well?
- What makes your product or service different from other options (competitors)?
- What problems do you solve for your ideal customer?
- What do you want to be known for?
- What do your customers already love about your product?
- USP Templates
- 1. Brand Name | [What your product or service is] for [target audience] that want [target audience desire] [how you do it differently]
- 2. [Business Name] | The Top Choice for [ideal audience] looking to [verb] [product/service offering and USP]
- 3. We [solve a problem] with/without [unique benefit].
- 4. What product/service is + what I’m really good at + what my customers want.