How do you spark someone’s interest in your business when you have mere seconds?
What can you say to connect with someone you want to work with? What will stick in a future client’s mind when you only have a moment?
That’s the job of the USP – your unique selling proposition, or unique selling point.
Some call it the “elevator pitch.” It helps your business or offer stand out, and appeal especially to the people you want to help.
If you don’t know…
- How best to answer “What do you do?”
- The one reason WHY people would want to follow you or subscribe
- How best to market yourself on your website
- What to say on social media
- What topics to blog about
…it might be time to develop your unique selling proposition.
Download your USP Worksheet so you can follow along now
What is a USP in marketing?
Your unique selling point (or proposition) is a clear, simple statement that connects people who have a particular need with a desired result – through your product or service.
Ideally your USP does three things.
- Identifies people who have the problem you solve
- Makes clear what you do
- Offers a desired result – on a path only you provide
The toughest part is figuring out what uniqueness makes you the most marketable.
Warning: Many Unique Selling Proposition examples are really something else
Confused about what a USP is? That’s because confusion is widespread. There are many misleading examples of USPs online, maybe because they look similar to other marketing elements.
You’ve probably found tons of USP examples that are really something else:
This is a tag line:
Expect more; Pay LessTarget
This is social proof:
Donald Miller is the CEO of StoryBrand and every year helps more than 3,000 business leaders clarify their brand message.Storybrand
This is a slogan:
When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.FedEx
This is a unique feature:
World’s strongest coffee (Death Wish Coffee)Death Wish Coffee
Your USP is not a tag line, social proof, slogan, or a unique trait.
Your USP is a working statement that informs all these.
Your USP is not just about you. It’s about who your customer is, where only you take them, and how.
Why is a USP important?
The cost of having no USP becomes clear in a post by Susan L. Reid for American Express:
Many new business owners don’t know how to determine their unique selling point. Either that or they’re suffering from the results of not having one. They’re getting lost in the crowd and dying a slow death because they aren’t able to attract enough customers to support their business.
I definitely do not want your business to die a slow death.
When you can show a clear path to solve a problem that people know they have, a more fulfilling life is more likely.
People just need an obvious, simple reason to want your solution over other options.
A good USP enables you to give people a reason to do something with you.
Without a USP it becomes too hard to stand out to customers in a noisy world.
By showing you know how a problem impacts people and what solving it means for them, you gain a marketing advantage. You bring your value into sharp focus quickly and easily.
Do you need a USP?
Some will say you don’t really need a USP.
I agree with Ian Brodie that you don’t need one for its own sake.
Indeed, asking “what makes me unique?” can take you down a rabbit hole.
We won’t go there.
However, you need a unique selling proposition to focus your marketing.
Tag lines, headlines and blog ideas come easier if you know your most compelling value to certain clients with a clear need.
You don’t have to stress about the unique part. Your way of wording your USP will be unique.
Let’s do this. Get your USP worksheet – let’s go!
I’m about to share a process for combining three ideas — your audience, the problem, and how the solution feels — that ensures you end up with a clear value statement that sets you apart.
You might not publish your USP itself. But it will help you create stronger messages you do make public.
7-Step Process to Develop a Powerful USP
You can create a unique selling proposition without driving yourself crazy.
Use this unique selling proposition template to spell out:
- The audience you serve best (your tribe)
- The main problem you help them solve (the problem you own)
- The results they want and how (only) your business gets them there (destination)
This unique selling proposition template will deliver the phrases you need to write your USP.
1) List what your target clients call themselves
How would they self-identify? What do they call their profession, business identity, or struggle? Examples: Solopreneur, small business owner, leader, sleep-deprived parent.
2) State the problem you help them solve
Think of the main problem.
What pain do you address?
What problem do you own?
What is the story behind your skills?
3) List what results they want
There’s the surface answer like “more web traffic” or “lose weight”.
Then there are deeper reasons behind the reason, like, “to get more leads with less effort” or “to feel better and happier in the body I have.”
What outward and inward change do your people want?
Put some of the answers to 1, 2 and 3 in five words or less
Brainstorm many versions for 1, 2 and 3 separately. Use simple terms.
4) Put your phrases in this structure. I help (these people) (solve this problem) (and get this result)
Do many versions.
Mix and match phrases from steps 1, 2 and 3.
Pause and take a look. Do some seem more exciting or appealing to the clients you serve?
5) Collect some USPs from people you admire, and try adopting what you like best
Look for experts in your field, who are successful or who you follow for advice or help.
A USP will likely appear on their “about” or sales pages. It won’t be labeled USP. But you can recognize it because it will target an audience.
Compare your draft to their polished USP for inspiration. Don’t take their words (no plagiarism). Look for ways to adopt the structure and clarity in the ones you like best.
6) Run your USP by colleagues and trusted contacts.
Take the best draft you have, and ask for feedback.
Go beyond friends and family. Find a Facebook group, a marketing forum, or a trusted marketing professional or two to give you some thoughts.
Feedback is really important. As you’ll see in the example coming up, I gained a really helpful phrase from one of my reviewers this way. It spoke to a result that I didn’t see, that both my clients and I want to make happen.
7) Update your USP with the best feedback
Give yourself some time with the feedback. You may find a lot of different ideas to work with.
Try different ideas over a few days. Make a note of the best one you have at this point.
You will fine-tune your USP over time as you think of something better.
USP exercise example: How I wrote my own unique selling proposition
I used this process to help develop a USP myself for my own business. Here are my notes from my worksheet.
1) What do my clients call themselves?
- Small business owner
- Service professional – medical, trade, craft or creative
- Service provider
2) What problem do I help them solve?
- Need a new or updated web presence
- Overwhelmed with marketing advice
- Don’t know what to do first
- Technology overwhelm – unfamiliar tools, frustration trying to use them
- Being busy – needing fast results
- Want to look professional
- Need clear, simple do-able marketing
- Don’t know who to trust –
- Struggle with WordPress
- Be found in Google (they need SEO)
3) What result do they want?
- Thriving business
- Do the work they enjoy
- Run lean – not waste money
- Better marketing – more clients
- More profit
- More focus – Less stress
- Know “just enough” tech
- To feel empowered
- To know what works best with the least effort/time/money
- Find the right help and not get taken advantage of
- Make & manage a professional web presence themselves
4) Combine in the structure: I help (these people) (solve this problem) (and get this result)
- I help service providers who need a website that helps them grow more easily
- I help service professionals use simple marketing to enrich their work and life
- I help experts create simple websites for greater impact and growth
5) Compare (and learn from) examples from people I admire.
Here are examples of unique selling propositions that inspire me. They may have changed since then, which is fine. (As a business evolves, so does the USP.)
I updated the structure and words using ideas from the samples collected.
My collection of Unique Selling Proposition examples
Danny Iny (spoken in an online workshop):
I teach coaches, consultants, authors, speakers and experts to use online courses to create wealth, freedom, impact and sustainable business success.
Hello! I’m Danielle Leslie, and I founded Culture Add™ Labs to help companies and individuals uncover their Culture Add™ and launch profitable products online.
Transforming the way leaders use LinkedIn to Win New Business
I simplify email marketing so that you can create a tribe that’s addicted to your zone of genius (even if email scares you senseless)
You’re not too old to start an online business. I work with mid-career online business builders inside my BIG League program.
6) Run your best draft by colleagues and appropriate contacts
First Draft: (from me)
I help coaches, authors and experts solve WordPress tech issues quickly so they get their work done faster, easier, and feel more confident.
Version 2: (from classmate in an online class)
I help authors, coaches, and other experts solve their WordPress tech issues so they feel more confident and get their work done faster and more easily.
Version 3: (from another classmate)
I help coaches, authors and experts who feel frustrated with WordPress to become skilled at solving common issues so they can save their energy for what they enjoy doing.
The feedback step really helped me change my draft to this point into something I liked even better.
7) Update with the best feedback
My draft USP at the end of this process is:
I help experts and service professionals learn WordPress skills to become more profitable, and save time and energy for work they enjoy.
I have never made such fast progress on my own USP before.
That’s why I have done all this to share the process with you.
How to use your USP
Your USP informs all your marketing. It’s a resource for all your marketing communication.
Here are some great examples:
Live webinar: Danny Iny reworked his USP into a value statement during an online event:
“I teach coaches, teachers, consultants, authors, speakers and experts how to build and sell online courses, so that they can build thriving online course businesses.”Live comment by Danny Iny online in May 2020
Sales Page Teaser: Danny Iny’s USP also shows up the book summary and sales teaser for his new book, Teach your Gift::
Learn how coaches, consultants, authors, speakers and experts can use online courses to create, wealth, freedom, impact and sustainable business success.
Call to action: Danielle Leslie’s USP-turned-CTA gives readers a compelling reason to buy:
Get the tools I used to do a $20,000 course launch in 60 days from a list of 0
Landing page Headline: The leading text for Danielle Leslie’s sales page reflects her USP.
“How to turn your passion and expertise into an online course”
Site Navigation: The promises in Meera Kothand’s USP show up as clear navigation labels:
- Email lists for newbies
- Blog Start Simplified
- Get my product ready
Testimonial Introduction: Pam Wilson uses her USP to introduce feedback from clients she serves and their results:
I work with mid-career online business builders inside my BIG League program. I asked a few of them to share more about the businesses they’re building — which are as varied, smart, and interesting as they are!
Low-stress test for a Good USP
How do you know you’ve hit the right unique notes that resonate with your audience?
Here’s a quick test. Ask: Does your phrase connect the 3 dots between a problem people own, the result they want, and what your business offers?
A good USP –
- Helps prospects self-identify
- Puts your value in simple terms
- States the desired result they can only get with you
Crafting a Good USP takes hard work – but it needn’t be TOO hard!
For most people, a USP doesn’t spill effortlessly from their lips the first time they try to express one. It something you develop and improve over time.
Creating a USP is a process. Your USP will evolve as your business does. So even taking baby steps toward an incomplete USP has value.
Practice will make it easier to state who you help, what you do, and what changes as a result.
Having a working USP makes it easier to find blog topics, plan emails, choose keywords, and do just about everything else in your marketing.
The payoff in focus for your business and your clients is worth it.
Get your worksheet and spark more interest in your business
Feeling invisible? Want more people to know WHY they should choose you?
Download this free USP worksheet and walk through the 7 steps to get and use your USP.