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How to Write a Unique Selling Proposition

Four Steps to Help You Identify What Makes Your Business Unique

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A unique selling proposition (USP), or unique selling position, is a statement that succinctly outlines how your business, product or service is different from that of your competition. It identifies what makes your business the better choice, and why your target clients should choose you over the competition.

Your USP can be an effective tool that helps you focus your marketing goals, and verify that every piece of marketing collateral you create successfully sets you apart from the competition. Your USP can also be an important part of your branding that makes your business memorable.

This four-step exercise will help you write a unique selling proposition for your company, new product or service.

Step 1: Go Back to the Basics

The first step of writing a USP requires that you take a step back and review some of the basics included in your mission statement, business plan, market analysis, and overall business goals.

Start by answering some preliminary questions that recap what your business is selling, who you're selling it to and why you're selling it.

For example, a company that sells moving boxes may compile and answer questions like this:

  • What products or services are you selling?
    Boxes and moving supplies.
  • Who is your target audience?
    Local homeowners who are moving, and don't have a lot of time to look for used boxes in order to pack.
  • What does your business do well?
    We provide quick, responsive service while making the purchasing process easy for our customers.
  • What is your most important customer-focused business goal?
    Helping our customers get the moving supplies they need quickly, easily and affordably.

Step 2: Solve a Problem

The next step is to clearly identify your target audience's problem and explain how your product or service solves that problem.

Our example company that sells moving boxes may identify the potential customer's problem as not being able to easily locate the proper containers when they are packing their belongings and preparing to move.

Step 3: Identify the Differentiators

This step focuses on identifying what it is about your solution to your customer's problem that is different, or better than, the solution your competition offers. The value you identify here will be one of the primary reasons why your customers will choose you instead of a competitor.

The potential differentiators of our moving supply company may be that they offer sturdier boxes, less expensive boxes, complete packing solutions, same-day delivery, or exceptional customer service.

Step 4: Make a Promise

This step combines the most important elements of the previous steps into a concise statement that embodies the value your company has to offer. Keep in mind that your USP essentially implies a promise, or a pledge, you are making to your customers.

You may want to review some examples of unique selling propositions to get a feel for how successful companies craft a statement that encompasses the value they offer their customers.

The moving supply company, for example, may create a USP that says simply, "Sturdy Boxes in 24 Hours," aimed toward their overwhelmed customers who are getting ready to move, and quickly need boxes that won't collapse.

Once you have a working USP, it's always a good idea to sleep on it, run it by others in your company, or even create a focus group to measure the impact it has. It may take several tries, but once you hit the perfect USP, it can be an integral element of your marketing toolbox.

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