Unique Selling Propositions


When you start your business, you will probably be competing with a number of other companies. Why should customers come to you instead of them? The trick to setting your business apart is creating a Unique Selling Proposition.

The Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, informs your entire marketing and operational strategy, and is key to long-term success. Yet too many business owners have no idea what a USP is, much less what one they should use for their company. They are simply “there,” and hope to draw business just because consumers exist and might happen to do business with them, without any unique benefit or quality. It’s not enough for a business to simply say, “Me, too!” You need to give people a reason to choose you, and that’s where the Unique Selling Proposition comes in.

Your USP identifies any single element of your operation and focuses on making it the best. You find what your business’s specialty is, and you make sure customers know. This helps to not only make sure people know about your business, but also about why it’s different and better than competitors. There are several steps to developing a Unique Selling Proposition.

Analyze Your Market

First you should look at your competitors. What are their biggest selling points? Why do people go to them? Figure out what needs those businesses are meeting, what their USPs are, before you can determine what you should do. Think about what the voids in the marketplace are. Your competition might have several strengths, but they also will have areas of weakness, and those are the areas where you’ll be able to most easily differentiate yourself from them.

Make the Promise

Once you know what needs are not being met by your competitors, you can carve out your own niche. There are many options. Here are some possible Unique Selling Propositions that you could use:

  •     Broader selection
  •     Bigger discounts
  •     More convenient location, shopping, and delivery
  •     More effective customer service
  •     Better warranties and guarantees
  •     Faster service
  •     Higher-quality products

These are just a few of the options you have, or you can combine strategies to create a hybrid Unique Selling Proposition – anything to demonstrate why people should be coming to you first. Market yourself around your USP, so that people will be able to easily identify your strengths and what they’ll be getting from your business.


The most important part of a Unique Selling Proposition, though, is coming through. It’s not enough to tell people that you’re the best in a certain category; you actually have to be the best. Don’t pick a USP if you’re not able to follow through on all the promises you make. If you promise better service, better prices, or better products, then don’t just advertise it: do it. Customers need to know that you mean what you say, and that you’ll come through on your promises. If you do that, then your USP will be self-reinforcing as your business develops a reputation for excellence in its chosen specialties. If you fail, though, then your USP will work against you – no one likes it when companies break their promises.

If you give customers a clear reason why they should choose to give you their business, then you’ll gain the benefits of a positive public image, and gain a profound advantage over competitors who haven’t articulated a Unique Selling Proposition.

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Will Adams

Will Adams

Will Adams is the GM for Small Business Services for GoSmallBiz.com. Will leads the company’s efforts in serving small business owners and their employees through consulting, software, education, employee training, and advocacy. Will is also the co-founder of a successful Software as a Service (SaaS) business that currently serves small museums and family offices throughout North America. In addition to his business interests, Will serves on the board of Atlanta Children’s Foundation, connecting individuals, organizations, and resources to meet the needs of children in foster care.