Unique Selling Proposition (USP): what it is, how to create a USP and examples
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a clear, specific statement that describes the benefits of your offering (product or service), contains facts about how you are meeting your customers’ needs and what sets you apart from your competitors.
Your USP (also known as Unique Value Proposition) should grab attention both on your landing page and be the “red line” in all your marketing and advertising campaigns.
A sales proposition is a promise of value that users will receive as a result of purchasing your product or service. This is the main motivation and reason why a potential buyer should buy from you.
It’s also the element that determines whether people keep reading about your product, want to know more, or leave the site.
The USP is the main element of your website and landing page and should be tested as part of your A / B tests. If the USP is composed correctly, you can safely count on success in promoting your business.
For startups and companies that are at the very beginning of their journey, this element is of particular importance. The formula is simple: the less people know about your company, the cooler your USP should be.
What is USP
In short, a USP is a succinct statement about your company, product, or service that offers three things:
- Relevance . Explain how your product solves or improves customer problems.
- Value . Providing specific benefits.
- Differentiation . Explain to your customer how you are different from other products in your category and why they should buy from you and not from your competitors.
Your USP is the first thing that visitors should see on your homepage. And it should also appear on all major entry points to the site.
And it’s not a matter of pure aesthetics or meeting the personal needs of the CEO, marketer, or copywriter. Ultimately, a well-designed USP can improve the key metrics of your business.
The USP should be designed so that the average visitor to your site can quickly and easily understand it. It should be readable, concise and accessible.
Here’s an example of a poorly written USP:
Profit-focused marketing and sales automation software that fosters effective collaboration throughout the entire revenue cycle.
Can you explain this offer and its benefits, say, to your friend? I don’t think so. To my great regret, I did not take this USP out of the blue. There are more than enough such nonsensical sentences in jargon style. There is too much jargon, sophisticated words and intricate descriptions in this sentence, which is completely incomprehensible what kind of product it is, for whom and why you should pay attention to it. Avoid such gems at all costs!
Your USP should be written in the client’s language and match their way of thinking. To do this, you need to know the language (words and phrases) in which your customers describe your offer and how they benefit from it.
Remember that your description of your services is often very different from how your customers describe them. And to find out how they do it, you can interview a few clients, or resort to social media and do research on your target audience in general.
What an effective USP consists of
A USP is usually a block of text (heading, subheading, and one paragraph of text) with a visual element (photograph, cover photo, or graphics).
However, there is no single correct way to compose it. I suggest you start with the following formula:
- Title. What end benefit do you offer in one short sentence? Here you can mention a product and / or a customer. The headline should grab attention;
- Subtitle or 2-3 sentences. A concrete statement of what you do or offer, for whom and why it is useful;
- Key points. List the key benefits or features of the product;
- Visual component. Images are perceived by people much faster than words. Showcase a product, cover photo, or image that reinforces your main message.
I propose to evaluate your USP. To do this, just check if it answers the following questions:
- What product or service does your company sell?
- What is the ultimate benefit of using it?
- Who is the target customer of this product or service?
- What makes your offer unique and sets it apart from the rest?
Structure your answers using headings, paragraph breaks, or images.
How to create a unique selling proposition (USP)
Regardless of what type of service or product you offer, there are several elements that make a USP effective. Any, without exception, USP should:
- quickly and clearly convey the value of what you offer;
- explain how your service or product differs from the alternatives offered by competitors;
- Explain the ultimate benefits of use, key features and product characteristics;
- appeal to the key needs and pain points of your target audience (TA). Emphasize how your proposal solves problems;
- avoid self-praise such as “best”, “world-class”, “innovative”, etc., as well as any jargon or professional slang;
- contain the terminology as easy to understand as possible in order to convey your proposal even to an uneducated audience;
- be written in the language of the client, not your company. Remember, USP is not a brand mission. Avoid using the pronouns “we”, “our”, and “I”.
The key role of USP is to differentiate you from the competition. Most people look at an average of 4-5 different suppliers of goods / services before making a decision. Do you want your offer to stand out at such an important stage in the client’s journey, where he is fully engaged in researching the available options?
How do you make your offer unique? It can often be difficult to find anything unique in your own product.
However, it is possible. After all, you should be qualitatively different from your competitors.
You will have to immerse yourself in introspection and spend time thinking and discussing with the team.
So you haven’t found anything? Then create something. But remember, uniqueness should reflect what’s really important to your customers. Uniqueness for the sake of uniqueness doesn’t work. Even if what you are selling is not unique, you can still make a great deal.
Remember: you don’t need to be unique to the whole world. It is enough to show the uniqueness only for the client. After all, the sale is made in the mind of the client, and not in the market among competitors.
5 ways to create a great USP
Use these methods as a starting point to create a USP.
1. Use the Blue Ocean strategy
Probably the best USPs are born looking for Blue Oceans – new markets that only emerge when you create them yourself. This is how Apple and Uber found their USP.
The “red” oceans are markets in which bloody competition has turned the blue ocean red. While the Blue Oceans are full of untapped potential.
The Blue Ocean is born within the Red Ocean when a company changes the boundaries of an existing industry or re-segment the market.
To be first in the mind of your client, you need to dominate a very narrow, specific niche.
What is the advantage of finding the Blue Ocean? A strategic decision to create a Blue Ocean can create a competitive advantage in your brand awareness for decades to come. Even after the ocean waters turned red.
2. Use an emergency entry strategy
Innovative ideas emerge at the intersection of various fields, cultures and industries. A backdoor strategy is an effective method for identifying your USP because it may come as a surprise even to you.
Satisfying a customer who uncovers a connection that even you didn’t know about can create lasting loyalty and a sense of belonging to your brand.
The key to a backdoor strategy is discovering random opportunities and connections between existing ideas. You might start by thinking that you are a web designer and suddenly discover that you are actually a great brand strategist. Or a conversion optimization specialist.
At the junction of several areas, you can find that very unique selling proposition that qualitatively distinguishes you from the competition and at the same time offers real value to your target audience.
3. Make Your Self Central
Is your business a professional service? Or are you creating works of art? Running your own blog?
When the company is small (one to five people), your personality can become a powerful distinguishing feature.
The relationship between you as an individual and your business can (and should) continue even as the company grows large and successful.
When YOU is your main product (your advice, your words, your vision), finding your unique voice is akin to finding your USP.
4. Don’t try to please and appeal to everyone
You cannot become everything to everyone. So don’t even try. Serve your ideal customer and do it like no other. You can be the best in the world if you choose a very narrow and very specific niche.
You can also identify the main things to include in the USP and reconsider the things that you should offer if you go from the opposite, having a portrait of the client in your hands.
Determine what is of primary importance to your ideal client and, based on this, formulate the features of your proposal, which can satisfy these needs.
And your USP will be the logical outcome of this process.
But just don’t try to please everyone. Concentrate on your ideal customer.
5. Look for new combinations
All the ideas around us are a remix. Once you identify and understand your sources of inspiration, you can find new, unique intersections.
Expand them, personalize them and you are sure to find an audience that is interested and wants to explore this new space with you.
The key to creating a powerful USP
I think that the USP concept is already clear to everyone. This is a short summary of the essence of your product that explains: What is it? Who is it for? What is its use?
If your proposal contains answers to all of these questions, you are on the right track. And don’t forget that you should always strive for maximum clarity and simplicity.
If your USP makes people think hard about your proposal, you’ve made it wrong.
If, in order to understand your USP, people need to read an entire body of text, you have made it wrong.
Of course, having enough information is critical to conversion. But your first priority is to engage people with a clear and compelling USP.
What makes your USP effective
There are a number of things that can make your USP effective. Here are some of them:
- Clarity! It’s easy to understand;
- It communicates the specific results that the customer will receive from the purchase and use of your products or services;
- USP displays its fundamental difference from others or even superiority over competitors;
- Contains no buzz-generating phrases (“Unprecedented offer!” Or “Absolutely incredible product!”), Superlative quality (“best”), or business jargon (“value-added interaction”);
- It can be read and understood in about 5 seconds.
Also, in most cases there is a difference between a USP for your company and for your product. You should have both options. For example, a separate USP for an entire store that sells children’s toys and a separate one for each model in the range.
Equip your USP with boosters
Sometimes little things are enough to tip the scales in your favor. If you have too little differentiation from the competition, you can win by offering small bonuses that add value to your offer. I call these things boosters.
They work really well against competitors who don’t use them. Depending on the area and product for which you need to develop USP, boosters can be:
- free shipping;
- fast delivery or delivery within 24 hours;
- free purchase bonus;
- free setup or installation;
- no subscription fee;
- no obligatory long-term contract, the possibility of termination at any time at the request of the client;
- licensed software for several computers (instead of one);
- money back guarantee;
- product discount;
- the ability to personalize the product.
I think you get the point.
Think about what little things you could add without costing yourself financially. At the same time, remember that the booster must be attractive to buyers (at least some of them). And make sure that it is visible to users along with your USP.
7 examples of good USPs
It is actually quite difficult to find a perfect USP example. Probably because it is difficult to create a really powerful USP. I always find flaws in the suggestions I see and I understand how they can be improved.
Here are some examples of really good USPs.
I will comment on each of them, but understand that I may NOT be part of the target audience for each of these companies.
Moreover, I confirm that my hypotheses are subjective and require practical confirmation. However, they will help you understand what a good USP is all about.
Note: screenshots from company websites are up to date at the time of publication of this article and may differ from those that you see on company websites while reading this material.
1. Campaign Monitor
- clear what the company is doing;
- specific, clear description;
- relevant images that support context;
- there is a booster – “Instant registration. No credit card needed. “
- it is clear what it is and for whom;
- specific, benefit-oriented subheading;
- relevant visuals;
- smooth transition to features and benefits.
- a clear statement of what it is and for whom;
- list of features and benefits in a subheading;
- relevant image.
- a short and concise explanation of what it is for (Your notes), the benefits it provides (Organized), and why it’s so great (Effortless);
- key features and benefits in the subheading;
- relevant image.
- very specific title;
- a clear call to action;
- relevant image;
- lacking a clear edge over competitors or more detail in the subheading.
- like Evernote, the title is clear and concise;
- there is a booster – “Register for free” and “Register, it’s free”;
- third-party review contributes to a profitable and reliable comparison with competitors.
- the title is good, but could be clearer (for example, “Keep an eye on your laptop, phone or tablet. Return it if stolen or lost”);
- the next paragraph, together with the image, give a clear explanation of what it is;
- a screenshot of the product could better demonstrate what the application does;
Examples of bad USP
I will give a couple of examples of unsuccessfully composed USPs.
How NOT to do:
The number of users of this service suggests that it is really good. However, the guys should reconsider their USP.
- clear problems with clarity: “Helping create a better internet.” What is it like? No one will understand what this means and whether it solves someone’s problem;
- the subtitle brings some clarity and details the USP. But this information should be in the title;
- the image looks more like a stock photo.
2. Continuum Financial
- there is no USP at all – the headline congratulates itself on the fifth anniversary;
- awkward language – either vague or fundamentally incorrect (“… we will happily continue to provide …” and “Where are you on your financial journey?”).
How to check your USP
You just have to check your USP. How? There are two main ways to do this.
1. A / B testing
The best way to test the USP is to create two USP variations (or more if you have tons of traffic) and run split testing.
Ideally, you should measure your conversion rate (this will give the most accurate results). If this is not possible, then the number of leads and even the number of clicks will do.
By comparing different USP options in this way, you can understand which one resonates best with your target audience.
2. PPC advertising
The fastest and most cost effective way to do this is to use Google Ads or Facebook Ads.
Here you can also use the split-test method: create several ads with different USPs, but use the same targeting.
Obviously, the most clickable ad grabs attention and generates more interest. But that doesn’t guarantee a higher conversion rate.
Therefore, redirect traffic to the appropriate landing page and test the conversion rate as well.
Take this element of your marketing strategy seriously. After all, you will have to use USP very often – in all marketing and advertising campaigns, on the website and when developing positioning.
Make your USP as clear and understandable as possible. Then place it on all the main login pages of your site: home page, landing pages, product and category pages, and more.
So, to create a powerful USP you need:
- focus on clarity. Specificity is above all;
- structure text and images correctly: use a headline, subtitle, cover photo and lists of benefits, characteristics and features;
- test, test, test.