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Article 13 min read

What is a unique selling proposition? USP examples and definition

Speak directly to the people who want what you’re selling.

By Donny Kelwig, Contributing Writer

Last updated March 11, 2024

A guide to the unique selling proposition

If you’ve heard the term “unique selling proposition” or “unique selling point” thrown around lately but aren’t quite sure what it means, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll provide a clear unique selling proposition definition and answer some of the most common questions people have about USPs. We’ll also show you 10 unique selling proposition examples to jumpstart the tricky process of crafting the perfect one to increase sales.

What is a unique selling proposition?

Customers today are flooded with options. With a simple Internet search, they can instantly find the products and services they need. Getting noticed in this sea of options isn’t as simple as having the best product or service. Consumers want options that seem tailor-made specifically for them. They don’t want something that’s for everyone, they want something just for them. It’s sales psychology 101.

Unique selling proposition definition

A unique selling proposition—or USP—is a statement of what makes your business stand out from the competition. It’s also casually called a “selling point.” Your USP might speak to a unique quality, feature, or price. (Allbirds is particularly good at this.) Maybe it’s your customer service, speed, safety features, convenience, customization, or environmental consciousness. Whatever it is, your USP is generally focused on a singular quality that your company does better than anyone else in your market.

Keep in mind, a USP is not the same thing as a slogan. Your USP statement doesn’t have to appear word-for-word in your marketing materials or fit into a commercial jingle. Your consumers may never see your full USP (although they might). But they should be able to sense your USP in advertising, sales, and customer service interactions.

Unique selling proposition vs. value proposition

Value proposition and USP are sometimes conflated because they’re so similar. They both have to do with messaging, but the value proposition goes into a long explanation of the benefits and value you provide. It’s a description of the actual job your product or service gets done.

To prevent the two from getting confused, think of it this way: It’s possible to share value propositions with other companies, but you will not share unique selling propositions.

How to craft a unique selling proposition

how to craft a usp

It takes careful thought and consideration to craft the right USP for your business. Communicating your USP is a sales skill like any other, like how to upsell, closing sales, or SPIN selling. It isn’t always easy to answer the question, “What makes my business stand out?” Sometimes it’s obvious, and sometimes…it isn’t.

Here are some steps you can take if you’re having a hard time putting your finger on the pulse of what makes your company unique.

Talk to your customers

Before trying to craft a unique selling proposition, look at the people who consistently buy from you. Are they in a certain age range? Do they live in a specific location? What kind of expendable income do they have? What are their likes and dislikes? Talk to them and see if they can shed some light on what draws them to you instead of the competition.

Look at the problems

Make a list of all the problems your product solves as well as the ones it helps your customers avoid. What are the challenges your customers are facing, and how does your business solve them? Embrace consultative selling.

Say you sell leather purses for everyday use. Purses go through a lot of wear and tear, so you’ve designed your purses to be super long-lasting and durable. If your unique selling proposition clearly states that your purses are constructed to solve the longevity problem, you’ll be more likely to attract high-value customers.

Think about your promise

When you sell a product or service, you’re also selling a promise. Maybe the promise appeals to the buyer’s sense of humanity by affirming a mutual commitment to using only planet-friendly materials. Maybe the promise is about the speed of delivery, for people who need your product quickly. Or maybe the promise is durability, for products that get a lot of use.

Whatever your product or service is, consider the promise you’re making. Promises come from a genuine place, which makes them very powerful when it comes to crafting a standout USP. A sincere promise can help make your marketing personal; it reminds your buyers that there are caring human beings behind the business.

Introspection isn’t easy, especially when business is involved. But it’s necessary. Look at your business from top to bottom and evaluate what makes you unique.

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Common USP pitfalls

  • It’s too wordy

    A USP needs to capture a lot of meaning in as few words as possible. This isn’t to save on ink, but rather to ensure that you are as specific and simple as possible. Remember, your USP isn’t a statement you’re just going to print off and slap on your office wall. It’s meant to be used as an inspirational jumping-off point for all of your messaging. Simplicity will help keep it clear and flexible.
    In the end, every word of your selling point needs to be true and to the point. Look for unique selling proposition templates online to get a basic idea of how they should sound in tone and length.
  • It isn’t true

    Your unique selling point has to be something that every team member can defend. If your marketing team decides to craft a catchy line that your sales team can’t back up, you’ll come across as dishonest.
    Half-truths or a “sometimes it’s true” won’t cut it either. Your USP needs to be so fundamental to your business model that every person in your company should be able to state it proudly to anyone.
  • Anyone can use it

    Your unique selling proposition has to be something that only you can use…that’s why it’s unique! If your USP includes phrases like “always 50% off” or “the highest quality,” your competition can easily say the same.
    Your USP is a promise that only your business can fulfill. When it’s implemented consistently throughout your marketing and sales process, it becomes a key part of your company’s identity. When crafting your unique selling point, check in periodically to ask yourself, “Is this something my competition could say?” If the answer is yes, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
  • It’s only in the headline

    Once you’ve written a solid USP, it must be woven into the fabric of all the content you put out. It isn’t enough to simply craft it into a headline that looks nice at the top of your website. The message of your unique selling proposition should continue to crop up everywhere your customer turns. Otherwise, there’s the danger that they’ll think it’s just a catchy slogan that you don’t intend to back up.

10 unique selling proposition examples

Below are 10 brilliant unique selling propositions currently being used in the e-commerce world. Most of these phrases appear in some form on the company’s front page. But keep in mind that businesses won’t ever highlight their USP and say, “Hey, look! This is our unique selling proposition!”

Unlike a slogan, a USP isn’t always meant to be front and center. It’s meant to be everywhere and in everything. It should be able to give you a good idea of who a company’s ideal customer is.

Unique selling proposition benefits

Having a strong unique selling proposition gives you a competitive advantage by letting you build a stronger customer relationship. Consumers aren’t a monolith, and they don’t like being treated like one. Having a USP that speaks directly to your ideal customer lets them know that there are real people standing behind your mission—not just someone trying to make a sale. This establishes trust, relatability, and comfort, and it’s the first step to building a long and profitable relationship with your customers.

USP in sales and USP in marketing

It might sound like a unique selling proposition falls strictly in the realm of marketing, but that isn’t necessarily true. It’s at home in a sales presentation, too. Yes, your marketers can use your USP to craft personalized messaging in their ad campaigns. But your sales reps can also use it to build strong relationships with your customers.

A USP in sales is a powerful tool that lets your sales reps have a ready and truthful answer to the question, “Why should I buy your product instead of theirs?”

If it’s simple and honest, your customers will trust it.

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