One of the most important activities in starting or running a business is uncovering your unique selling proposition (or USP). USP is fancy – business world – speak for: What makes what you do different?
If you can’t answer this question on the spot in a minute or less, it’s time to do a little homework, friend. But, it’s the BEST kind of homework, in my opinion. I am an avid believer that we ALL have something special to offer the world. That our individual backgrounds, experiences, and paths factor into how we show up in the world and provide our offers to clients and customers.
In short, we ALL have a unique selling proposition, but you just might not know yours yet. So, let’s walk through why it’s important to get comfy ‘n cozy with knowing your own USP, plus how to uncover yours if you haven’t yet.
Why knowing your unique selling proposition is key:
Listen… there aren’t many completely original ideas in the business world. Most businesses are born out of a skill or passion someone has, but unless you’re inventing brand new technologies or products, it’s likely that your offer may look similar to someone else’s from the outside. (And hey, if you ARE inventing never-before-seen products, that’s cool, too!)
What makes YOUR brand and business stand out from those that are similar is your USP. The special quirks, a different approach, out-there marketing techniques, and yours-only stories that make up your brand.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to be wacky and weird and totally off-the-cuff to have a productive USP (though that’s fine if it’s fitting for you!) More so, you want it to be something your customers find valuable or see as impactful and important so that it makes them take action.
How to decipher your USP:
At its core, your unique selling proposition is one statement that describes your brand in a way that sets you apart from the competition. It’s not just a slogan, website headline, or mission statement… It’s something your entire business can embody in each interaction and move it makes.
There are a few very important characteristics of a strong USP:
- It’s memorable and original. No vague generalizations that could describe 50 of your competitors… Make it assertive AND accurate.
- It centers on what your clients value. What do your dream clients care about? Make sure your USP caters to that.
- It’s not fluff or a marketing slogan. Each piece of your business and action it takes should be able to back up your USP.
I’d recommend starting with thinking about the end result of your product/service/offer, and then adding in a few words of what makes this unique to how you do things. Keep in mind that you may have the same end result or painted outcome as other brands or businesses, but your way of getting to the result is the USP or what makes it uniquely yours.
Here are a few simple steps to dial into your USP:
- Make a list of everything that sets your brand apart.
- See what your competition’s unique selling propositions are (if nothing else, to make sure you provide something different to the market!)
- See how your brand’s unique qualities align with what your clientele needs.
- Dig into the data to see what makes you most unique and aligns you most with your clients.
- Make sure it’s applicable to your business as a whole.
Don’t be afraid of being too different, either! It will help you niche down in the right way and speak more clearly to your ideal client! (And, in turn, push away those who AREN’T your ideal client… which is a good thing, promise.)
When you’re confident in your USP, it will help you clearly show up and communicate with confidence, making it easier for people to know, like, trust, and make purchasing decisions with you.
Examples of strong unique selling propositions:
If you’re like me, you wanna see something in action before dipping your toes in yourself. If you’re having trouble coming up with your own USP, take a look at these great examples:
- Third Love: this bra and intimates company has a simple USP: “We have the right fit.” AND… everything they do hinges on it. Their marketing, product, and core philosophy all back up their dedication to matching women with the best-fitting bras (which any woman knows is HARD to find).
- Winc: a wine delivery service, Winc has stood out by personalizing wine selections to match a customer’s taste. Their USP is, “Winc connects you to a world of exclusive wines tailored to your tastes and offers wine delivery right to your door.”
- Uber: the ride-sharing service has direct competitors, so they stand out with an assertive USP statement: “The smartest way to get around.”
See? It doesn’t need to be overly complicated or even super wordy. In fact, the best USPs are simple and concise while demonstrating the difference the brand delivers! Have fun with it, show some personality, and don’t be afraid to make bold statements.