Go beyond a tagline & learn how to leverage what makes you unique

Jay Abraham knows how to ask the right questions to understand what makes businesses really tick. For example: Why do your clients buy from you instead of your competitors? If you know the answer, you’re well on your way to having a solid USP (a unique selling proposition).

Don’t know yet? Either you haven’t identified what, exactly, sets you apart in the eyes of your clients or you’ve just been lucky to make it this far. Why lucky? Because when your competition offers your clients an advantage you don’t, your clients will desert you, and they’ll take their business with them.

How, then, does a unique selling proposition fit into guaranteed business success? Having a USP is an essential part of creating your business’ own raving fan customers. Here we’ll cover Jay’s insights into this business differentiation tool, including just what is (and isn’t) a unique selling proposition, then work through some unique selling proposition examples, and finally give you the tools to create or refine your own unique selling proposition.

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What is a unique selling proposition?

We all want to be unique; it’s human nature. Jay says people worry about three things: if we’ll stand out, if we’re unique and if other people will care. Turns out the same questions apply to a business or company: Will it stand out? Be unique? Make others care? 

These are vital questions for anyone in business. But uniqueness is only the start of your unique selling proposition definition. Simply, a USP is what lets others see the benefit of your business (or product or brand) as better than your competition. It’s what makes you stand out – and it’s how you communicate the way you add value for your clients so that they know you are the right choice for them. It makes you desirable because you’ll give them something your competitors can’t or don’t. It sets you apart from the generic masses.

In other words, a unique selling proposition is a promise you make and keep to your customers.

Examples of unique selling propositions

Which of these unique selling propositions have you heard before?

  • “It melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
  • “Expect more. Pay less.”
  • “A diamond is forever.”
  • “Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free.”
  • “With every pair you purchase, we give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One.”

unique selling proposition

Now, not all USPs can be summed up in under 10 words (more on that below), but these examples each give you a specific element that makes the company different from its competition. For M&Ms, it’s their chocolate candy’s shell that makes them less messy than other chocolate brands – clean hands are a benefit you might not expect from a sweet. For Domino’s, their promise of a pizza delivered to your home in a half hour was a revolution in the 1970s. This unique selling proposition clearly tells you what to expect – hot and fresh pizza – and when – in 30 minutes. And while this promise was eventually dropped, they still have a quality guarantee.

Whether it’s shopping for quality goods and paying low prices (Target), permanence and stability as a sign of eternal love via diamonds (DeBeers) or the chance to contribute to those in need when you buy shoes (Tom’s), all these companies signal what makes them different from their competitors. Often the best USPs come from elements that aren’t your usual selling points: They are niche, specific and distinct.

How NOT to make a unique selling proposition

One of the biggest challenges to understanding your business’ unique selling proposition is falling into broad marketing speak. Saying “we have quality products” is confusing to your customers – they don’t know what that actually means. It’s vague. But having a broader selection than usual, deep discounts, 24/7 advice and assistance or speedy service – these are all possible needs your business might be filling in your industry and are the basis for a strong USP.

Developing a unique selling proposition can also have pitfalls if you fail to do so carefully and with integrity. Let’s say there’s a company that sells widgets. It advertises that it can fill any order in 12 hours for any of the 25 widgets that are always in stock. But the company can only fulfill this promise half the time because they actually only stock 10, not 25, widgets regularly. Instead of keeping their promise to clients, they have set up a surefire way to turn repeat clients away – their unique selling proposition has been broken.

Many people have a tendency to think about creating their unique selling propositions in terms of taglines. Eventually, your USP will get you to the kind of catchy phrases that you see in advertisements and marketing, but a strong USP usually starts as a crisp, clear paragraph. For example, one of Jay’s past clients was a custom jeweler who thought their USP was “Unusual Gold Jewelry.” Though compact, this statement tells you nothing about why you should pick this jeweler instead of the countless others out there. After asking questions, Jay found out what their real unique selling proposition was: creating custom jewelry that’s twice the quality of ordinary stuff at half the usual price. See how much more specific and powerful that is for a prospective client?

How to write a unique selling proposition

Every business needs a USP. An old company can update their unique selling proposition to rebrand and guide their changes. A new company figuring out its niche will have a stronger start by understanding its position in the industry landscape. Remember, your USP can touch on anything that sets you apart from the competition – price, service, quality, exclusivity or any other aspect of your business. It’s just a matter of making that difference clear to your clients so they think of you, not your competition, first.

Here are Jay’s questions to truly capture your unique selling proposition. Work through them in order, and get others to answer these questions, too, and see where there’s overlap in your responses.

1. Find some models
  • Who are your favorite suppliers, retailers or other businesses? Why do you like these particular businesses instead of their competitors? Try to get your answer into a sentence or less.
  • Ask other business owners or salespeople: What do you think the primary advantage of doing business with you or your firm is over your competitors?

unique selling proposition modelleverage marketing to figure out what you know

2. Identify your business’ unique qualities

unique selling proposition

  • Who are your clients? (Be as specific as possible.)
  • What are the benefits and advantages you already offer your clients?
  • What benefits does your competition offer them that you don’t?
  • What niche advantages do you already possess (location, ease, etc)?
  • How could you improve on your competition’s current advantages?
3. Make your unique selling proposition

Now work through what you’ve figured out that sets your business apart from the rest. USPs can focus on quality, quantity, warranty, speed, high-touch service, education clients receive – it depends on what it is you’ll deliver to your clients. Think, too, about your client, and remember: you will not appeal to everyone. Focus on the market niche you want to stake out first. It’s likely that developing a unique selling proposition will start out as a paragraph or more. Then, work to edit down the generalities and refine it into a sentence or two. Ultimately your unique selling proposition should be crisp and clear. And if you already have a unique selling proposition working for you, articulating it clearly will help you gain a real advantage over your competition.

creating a unique selling proposition

Leverage your unique selling proposition

With your USP developed, it’s time to make sure everyone is on message in both word and deed. Integrate your unique selling proposition into all your promotional, marketing, advertising and selling operations; your website, collateral and employees should all reflect the promise you’ve made to your customer. Put it everywhere and make sure everyone, including your clients, knows what makes your business stand out from the rest.

Jay Abraham

About Jay:

Jay Abraham is a proven business leader and top executive coach in the United States, and a close friend of Tony Robbins. Jay has spent his entire career solving complex problems and fixing underperforming businesses. He has significantly increased the bottom lines of over 10,000 clients in more than 1,000 industries, and over 7,200 sub industries, worldwide. Jay has dealt with virtually every type of business scenario and issue. He has studied, and solved, almost every type of business question, challenge and opportunity. His principles can be the difference between mediocrity and a business that generates millions of dollars in additional revenue.

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