Polishing Your Unique Selling Proposition

Developing and internalizing your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is critical to examining what you do and why anyone buys from you. If you and your team have trouble developing one, work through this simple exercise until you have something everyone likes.  

If you’ve been in business a while, each customer-facing employee most likely has their version of what you do and why it’s great. But with several versions, the effectiveness of your USP loses strength and needs to be unified. 

Step 1: Why Do You Exist

This should be straightforward but surprisingly many businesses don’t amplify this clearly enough about their business. The why is the first component of your USP. We sell auto parts, tech support, or CRM software that doesn’t tell a prospect why you’re here and won’t stand up against the competition. 

You’ll need to go deeper into your value proposition to mine the benefits:

Auto Parts = Superior stock saves time

Tech Support = 24/7 monitoring prevents outages

CRM software = Reminders improve client follow-up

Step 2: Who is it for?

It’s also obvious because you deal with your customers daily, but who are they? Is it business owners with 1-50 employees? Or individuals in large companies looking to maximize payroll? 

While reviewing your customer list, which stands out as the most active, growing, and powerful users of your product or service? This will help focus your future attention on your ideal customer.

Step 3: Why should anyone buy from you?

What unique qualities or benefits make your product or service compelling? If you’re attending a trade show and stationed across the aisle from your direct competitor, would a wandering attendee hearing both 30-second pitches be able to tell the difference? 

If you can’t find clear differences or don’t strongly believe in them, you have an opportunity to enhance your offerings. Product and service bundles change all the time, keep tweaking until you nail a more compelling pitch.

USP in Action

Now that you’ve thought about the components of your Unique Selling Proposition, it’s time to start assembling. There is zero risk in testing this out with your team, kick the parts around and see how all impressions line up. To help frame the exercise, here are the key components I believe your USP needs to contain:

  1. It needs to be unique. No surprise there.
  2. It needs to be desirable.
  3. It needs to be short enough to fit into a single sentence.
  4. It needs to be clear and specific.
  5. It needs to be spicy.

Ok now you can’t wait to create your USP, here’s a prompt:

“We help [this group of people]…do or get [this benefit]…[better. cheaper, faster]…even if [worst case scenario].”   

Sometimes USPs get confused with slogans, they’re very closely related but for this exercise, think about this as an individual exchange at a networking event, party, or conference. 

Simple and to the point, if you’re not sure the person you’re talking to is your target customer, a well-thought-out USP helps clarify things. Their reaction will tell you if this is the right contact or company to pursue. If you approach it right, they might even point you in the right direction. It can be a fun team exercise, #5 always gets people thinking and helps zero in on why you’re different.

Study the Masters

One of the best studies of this concept in action is new retail chains. A national chain invests huge sums of money in a concept with its unique offering long before it expands. It’s critical due to high overhead and daily cash flow demands. Of course, they don’t spread their USP individually but components are evident when you enter a store.

Think about Blaze Pizza, with mass pizza customization versus Pizza Hut or Domino’s. Chipotle simplifies Mexican food with fresh ingredients and a small menu, unlike 50+ items on a traditional Mexican restaurant menu. CarMax blew away the competition with selection, selling your used car, and the one-price concept to simplify the sales process. Each unique selling proposition defines their entire existence and business model when you think about it. 


Remember, your USP can evolve especially if your organization adds new products or expands into new markets. Many businesses tweak their product and services until they can dial in their ideal customer profile with a compelling offering. When you can confidently articulate a USP statement, you’re broadcasting to the world who you are, what you do, and why they should buy from you. This helps prospects self-identify and make it easier to refer your business. Give it a try with your team, it’s simple, powerful, and fun!