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A unique selling proposition (USP) is a specific aspect of your product or service that your sales and marketing teams use to communicate the unique value of your offering. Without one, your ideal customer won’t have a clear understanding of what sets you apart from your competitors. To help, let’s dive deeper into what a unique selling proposition is, how to create one, and some solid examples to use as reference points.
A unique selling proposition (USP) is a short, written statement that clearly explains the differentiating factor of your product or service; it serves as the basis for your marketing materials, sales pitches, sales decks, and more. All USPs are constructed using key elements that help set you apart from the competiton and communicate unique value such as low prices, stellar customer service, proprietary features or use cases, and more.
Regardless, all USPs should be just a few sentences and brief enough to include on a landing page or use as part of an elevator pitch. For this reason, you can think of your USP as a tagline or catchphrase with a header and subheader, like this example from HelloFresh:
When constructing your own USP, make sure that you hit on these key elements below:
As long as these three elements are present in your USP, it will give you an edge in your market and set yourself apart from the competition in your buyer’s mind. Now that we understand what a USP is, how it’s used, and the key elements to include, let’s take a look at the types of value your USP can communicate as well as how to create your own.
While the three key elements above explain the framework for creating a successful USP, below are common value propositions your USP can communicate. This includes things like price, service, logistics, features, and more. The purpose of your unique selling proposition is to effectively convey your unique value offering, so it’s important to identify the right thing.
To help, here are some value propositions you can use for your own USP:
When reviewing other USPs, many of which we’ll cover below, you’ll notice that many companies create a USP around the way their customer either pays for or receives their product. Whatever angle you choose, make sure your customer can immediately see the value your offering will provide them. Now, let’s look at creating your own.
Creating a unique selling proposition is a vital part of attracting leads and effectively communicating the value of your product or service. The process can vary a little depending on whether your business model already has a clear USP or if you have to identify and develop one. Whichever situation you find yourself in, the steps look more or less the same:
This four-step process will help you create a unique selling proposition that leads to greater sales and marketing success. Evaluate your business model and find something you do differently that gives you an edge. Then, it’s all about properly communicating that message to your leads. Next, we’ll dive deeper into the specifics on each step.
Take a look at your business model, and find the characteristics of your business that differentiate you from the rest of the industry. You can use the key elements and common characteristics listed above as reference and ask yourself the following questions about your business model:
In order to figure out the best aspect of your business to use as your USP, select the answers to these questions — or other categories and questions you think of — that provide the most value to your audience. A product made with high quality materials or a service using proprietary technology is a great example of a USP so long as you can communicate it clearly to your leads.
Once you’ve zeroed-in on your value proposition, make it easy to understand and memorable for your target audience. This is done by drafting a phrase or slogan that clearly communicates your USP in a sentence or two. You can make a catchy slogan for casual B2C situations or just a short explanation for more professional contexts.
Sticking with the sample categories above, here are some examples of USP messaging:
As you can see, you have the option to go with something catchy, but a direct explanation can serve you just as well. Additionally, not all value propositions have to do with the ways you make your product or deliver it. Sometimes, just supporting a cause that your target audience believes in can make your business attractive to your prospect.
Once you’ve developed a clear message, it’s time to cover your marketing materials and website with it. You should be adding your USP to the front page of your website in large, readable font. In addition, it should be prominently displayed on all of your marketing materials, including ads and landing pages.
Add your USP to marketing materials such as:
If you have multiple USPs, you can use two or three together to create a holistic marketing message, or you can separate them to diversify your marketing copy. This largely depends on how related the USPs are and the type of brand you’re trying to convey. In the USP examples below, the firms do a great job of encouraging leads to buy into the comprehensive company brand by grouping USPs together, which we recommend you do.
If you do group USPs together, keep in mind the duration of your marketing campaigns. Marketing multiple USPs at once is better for a long-term campaign that hammers home a consistent message. If you prefer to cycle through multiple marketing messages to engage different customers, separating your USPs will keep them from feeling recycled.
Finally, make sure that your sales team is well-versed in your USP so they can use it as part of their sales pitch, sales deck, or within their sales presentation. These sales materials and activities should always be value-forward, and there is no better way to demonstrate value than to express how your business is different from the rest.
So, salespeople should be using the USP as the cornerstone of their pitch. Throughout the lead nurturing process sales process, bring up lead-specific benefits that you will resonate with that specific lead. Then, link those benefits to your USP as the bridge to calling the lead to action. We can call this the “all roads lead to Rome” approach, as no matter which needs you’re navigating for which lead, your USP will provide value for them.
For example, if convenience is important to your lead, focus on how your product or service will save them time or effort. Then, relate that benefit to your USP, such as included direct delivery.
There are many great examples of USPs out there, and we want to show you some of the best so you can use them as a reference as you create your own. We’ll explain each company’s USP, show you what it looks like on their website, and explain why it works. Let’s check out exactly what makes these USPs so successful.
Focusing on getting men to care more about natural, handmade grooming products, Dr. Squatch has a USP that most people in America have heard of by now. They market aggressively, with commercials everywhere from TV, to social media, to every video streaming platform you can think of. Here is what their USP looks like on the website:
Part joke, part market-targeting, the Dr. Squatch USP tells you everything to know in regard to why you would buy their product over leading soap brands. They are soaps made for men, with natural ingredients, that include a satisfaction guarantee. Overall, it’s a solid and memorable USP that clearly dictates why you should buy their product.
HelloFresh is a meal kit delivery service primarily focusing on competing with grocery stores by making cooking at home more convenient. You get a meal box that includes only the ingredients that you need for a single meal, and instructions to make it. They offer subscriptions that send multiple meals per week, as well. Let’s take a look at their crafty twist on a USP:
As you can see, HelloFresh found a unique design twist to help them deliver a multi-faceted USP. They drive home the idea that they are the most convenient way to cook at home, and exactly what you stand to gain from choosing them.
Using trigger words like money, stress, and time is a great way to make the value you provide tangible to your target audience. Everybody wants more time, more money, and less stress. So, by highlighting these three desirable things in their USP, HelloFresh sets themselves apart in a positive way.
Offering a new take on prescription glasses and sunglasses alike, Warby Parker became popular for allowing their customers to get frames sent to them at home to try on. Then, the customer would send them back, pick and purchase the one they like online, and receive a pair with their prescription lenses included. Let’s check out their USP delivery:
This USP is much simpler than the other two we looked at. No frills, just a clear representation of their unique value to customers. They won’t make you go into a store and speak with a pushy floor salesperson; you just pick a few to try and send them back when you’ve made a decision.
Robinhood was founded to simplify stock trading for everyday people and offer a free, easy way to get younger people into investing. Their primary value proposition is their simplified interface and process for trading, as well as their lack of commission fees and their free stock for signing up. Here’s what their USP looks like:
The USP we see here shows a focus on a feeling of accessibility. That seems to be the driver for Robinhood’s marketing. A notable similarity between Dr. Squatch’s USP and Robinhood’s is the inclusion of both a slogan and a more direct explanation of value. This way, they don’t lose out on a catchy, memorable marketing slogan, but they are still able to make the value proposition tangible for their ideal customer.
The inclusion of a graphic also works in their favor, as it provides a mini-demonstration of the app’s simplicity, as well as a nod to their debit card product. After clearly laying out their primary USP, they take the opportunity to display another unique product that they offer to generate curiosity in the audience.
N26 is a mobile banking service that offers a similar USP to Robinhood’s, focusing on making finance management easier on everyday people. Instead of doing this with stock trading, they do it with your regular banking experience. So, let’s see what it looks like on their website:
This USP is less of a direct explanation, but still gives a strong indication of what kind of value they offer. They are taking the typically complicated process of dealing with a bank, and trying to make it easier on their customers. While it doesn’t specifically name the differences between them and the competition right out of the gate, it does a good job of stating the benefits of using their product: speed, flexibility, and transparency.
All of these USPs are being presented as sales pitches, and you’ll notice that most of the pitches group different USPs together. They also frame the USPs in the context of the buyer needs that they were designed to serve. This is what makes a truly successful USP, as it equips your ideal customer to think of your product in the context of their own lives.
A unique selling proposition is a vital element of the sales process. Once you clearly designate and market one, you open up the door to stronger pitches, more effective marketing, and a higher volume of sales as a result. So, figure out what you have to offer, then lean into it when pitching and marketing.