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Develop a USP

Today customers have countless suppliers to choose from when they need to buy goods or services. To get noticed you have to differentiate yourself in the market.

To do this you need to develop a unique selling proposition (USP), one which conveys your brand message and informs your audience why they should choose you.

Learn more about developing your USP in this article.


What Is A USP?

A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is what makes your business different from the competition. It is the primary reason you give customers as to why they should buy from you and not your competition. The USP can refer to a number of different elements, either to the process you employ in producing a product or how you deliver good customer service.

Don’t confuse USP with brand. A brand is made up of different elements to form an image for customers. The USP makes up part of the brand, but does not make the brand on its own.

Without a USP you cannot effectively sell to your target audience.


How Do You Develop A USP?

The development of the USP can be a hard and long process. You can start by looking at your market or even other markets to see how other businesses use USPs to differentiate themselves.

Looking at the airline industry is a good example of how a diverse set of USPs can exist within one market. For instance, some airlines sell great customer experience, others market budget prices and others promote on-time flights.

The USP for these businesses not only helps sell their services to customers, but also delivers a message of what the business is about and what a customer can expect.

Some great examples of USPs are just a few words. Examples of this would be Nike’s “Just Do It” and Miller Beer’s “Its Miller Time”. These USPs both identify what the brand is about, are short and unique. They are also selling benefits to the audience. Nike’s USP insinuates that with their brand you achieve what you want and confidence. Miller’s USP is telling their customers they will have a good time.

Your USP has to create the same. You want to create a USP which not only covers your brand and its activities but is highly memorable to your target audience and informs them of the benefits of using your service.

The best USPs are three words long. Three is a powerful number in marketing. It is a number which is significantly high enough to give credit to what is being said while small enough to be highly memorable by the audience.


Here is a method to develop your USP:

Step One: Create a detailed spider map of what your target audience thinks about you, your market and your competitors. You might want to create three different spider maps to begin with and then combine them into one.

Step Two: List all the benefits your product gives a customer. The list here should include all the benefits whether that is time saving, good health, entertainment, fair trade, etc. Every benefit you can think of could potentially become part of your USP.

Step Three: Review your list of benefits against trends and competitors in your market. To keep your USP unique you want to remove any benefits which have already been covered by competitors. Another important factor is to consider whether your audience realises or expects the benefit from your product. For instance selling a food product because it stops you feeling hungry is not going to be unique or a surprise to your customers.

Step Four: For everything left on your benefits list, match with something your business is good at. For example if your business is timely, how long does it take you to fulfil orders? Be careful with some of the benefits and their match up; unless you want to work 24/7 don’t consider you are always available.

Step Five: For every idea create a page filled with words or images which represent the benefit and how you provide it. This helps to bring your idea to life, not only to you but also to your team. When writing down your USPs, avoid long sentences.

Step Six: Take your ideas and speak to a focus group or interview 10 to 20 individuals showing them your ideas. Take their responses and consider which USP they seemed to like best.

Step Seven: Evaluate your options and check that you have chosen the right USP from step six. Does the USP convey a single brand image which separates your brand from your competitors and tells the audience exactly what you do? Does it give a benefit? Is it easy to remember?

Step Eight: Consider your activities. Do your business activities, marketing strategy and brand image align with the USP? If they are not aligned, can you adjust any of them slightly so that they are aligned? If this is not the case; repeat steps seven and eight with another USP.

Step Nine: Start using your new USP with your marketing. Monitor how customers are talking about you online and in person. Are there any changes; are these positive comments?


How Can You Use A USP?

A USP should be the benchmark of your marketing efforts. It should have such prominence within your marketing communications that when customers hear your name they immediately remember the USP. Therefore there are two areas which you should concentrate on to incorporate this within your brand image:

1. Firstly establish that your USP is integrated into your business’ activities. For instance if your USP is fast delivery, ensure that you deliver on that promise.

2. Secondly promote your USP in your marketing communications. Try to incorporate your message in your logo. This is one of the best ways to integrate your USP with your brand.



The USP is an important part of your sales technique. Without one you cannot differentiate your business from that of your competitors and your sales will be hurt. With a USP you can position yourself in the market and attract your target customers. By using the best practices of USP building you can support your marketing efforts and create a strong brand image.


Action Steps:

  • Look at your competitors and attempt to identify their USP.
  • Follow our action steps in the article to create your USP while avoiding repeating other USPs.
  • Integrate your USP with your marketing and monitor the reaction from your customers.

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