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Unique Selling Propositions

By: Will Adams



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, 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? What you need to do is 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.
Published: March 21, 2013

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Will Adams

As the President of Business Development at Tarkenton, Will works directly with Tarkenton’s partners to identify and understand their organizational needs. He then assembles a cross-functional team to develop and deliver the solutions to meet the needs of the partner. Since joining Tarkenton in 2010, Will has helped develop new partnerships, plan strategic growth initiatives, and mentor organizational leaders. Connect with him on

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