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How to Create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to Grow Your Business

Posted by Kevin Fouche on May 23, 2017
Kevin Fouche

Creating a USP for your business begins with robust market research that reveals consumer attitudes about your products and services, and those of your nearest competitors.  These data are critical to fashioning a USP that resonates and boosts sales. Here is some information on How to Create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to Grow Your Business.

How to Create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to Grow Your Business

For Avis, 1962 was a year of reckoning.  Since its founding, Avis had trailed well behind Hertz, the unquestioned leader in the rental car industry.  Being number 2 doesn’t impart the kind of consumer interest or trust Avis needed, a fact which was hard to escape with a quick look at their balance sheets.  In 1962, Avis posted its biggest loss to date, more than $3.2 million.  Avis needed a new marketing approach.

That’s when they began their search for an innovative advertising firm.  They settled on Doyle Dane Bernbach, an up-and-coming, Manhattan-based agency which had made some waves with successful soft-sell campaigns for Ohrbach’s Furniture and Volkswagen in the 1950’s. 

Bill Bernbach, Ned Doyle and Mac Dane put their heads together and recommended a revolutionary approach:  instead of hiding its number 2 position, Avis should embrace it—being number 2 meant Avis worked harder to satisfy its customers, they argued.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Avis went public with its, “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder” campaign.  The following year, Avis boasted profits of more than $1.2 million.

What’s a Unique Selling Proposition?

The marketing tack Avis took in 1962 was unique—in just 8 words, the company conveyed the essence of its distinctiveness, the reason consumers should use Avis instead of Hertz.  Other companies have been equally successful in carving out a unique market position by crafting a compelling message and building their entire marketing campaign around it.  There was FedEx’s "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight,” Domino’s "You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less, or it's free,” and Geico’s "15 Minutes Could Save You 15 Percent or More on Car Insurance.”

What each of these spectacularly successful marketing campaigns had in common was a powerful, unique selling proposition (USP), a marketing concept Entrepreneur defines as follows:

“The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of thecompetition.”

How to Create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to Grow Your Business

How to Craft Your USP

Here are 3 steps to creating a killer USP:

1.  See Your Products from Your Customer’s Point of View

This is where market research—especially customer surveys and focus groups—are critical.  Most business owners have a built-in bias in favor of their products and services.  That’s understandable, but it’s a bias you need to shed. 

To create a winning USP, you need to see your products the way your customers do.  For example, without market research, Hershey’s probably would have focused only on the great taste of their M&Ms, but customer surveys revealed an important plus they would never have considered, one which generated their successful, "The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand" campaign.

2.  It’s about More Than Price

When consumers walk into a CVS to buy a bottle of aspirin, they have a choice.  They could pay $2.27 for a 100-tablet bottle of 325 mg CVS aspirin ($1.14 on sale), or $6.29 for a bottle of Bayer aspirin.  Why would consumers pay $4-5 more for the name brand instead of the generic—again and again?  The answer is Bayer’s USP—Bayer sells itself as “the wonder drug,” the drug that prevents heart attacks and strokes. 

Price is an important factor in creating an effective USP, but it’s not the only one.  If you can’t beat a competitor on price, find another feature of your product that directly addresses the customer’s needs, and build your USP around that feature.

3.  Brevity Is the Soul of Wit

Shakespeare had it right more than 400 years ago.  To resonate with your target audience, your USP should be brief, generally a single sentence, and no longer than a tweet. 

Would you really be sold on Domino’s if their USP was “You should consider our pizza over our competitors’ pizza for several reasons.  For one thing, our pizza tastes great, using only the finest ingredients.  Equally important, we promise extremely speedy delivery.  In fact, if it takes more than 30 minutes from the time you order until the time your pizza is at your front door, guess what—you don’t have to pay.” 

By the time you got to the end of that magnum opus, you’d have lost interest.  Domino’s USP works because they settled on a single distinctive feature and conveyed it in simple, concise language.  You need to do the same.


To be successful, your marketing needs to be grounded in powerful messaging—including a killer USP—that captures the distinctiveness of your business and highlights the ways your products and services can solve customer problems better than your competition.  You also need a powerful web presence coupled with effective inbound strategies like email and social media marketing, compelling blogs and optimized web pages. 

To learn more about the ways we can help you grow your business and boost sales, contact us today.

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Topics: Business Tips