Unique Selling Proposition

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Definition:

A unique selling proposition is a single, concise statement indicating your competitive advantage. More distinctly, it is a simple and short sentence which tells prospective customers why a product or service is unique and superior from its competitors.

How To Create a Unique Selling Proposition:

Step One: List Out Unique Qualities:

In order to create a unique selling proposition, you should list out those qualities that make your product or service unique, different, or just plain better.

For instance, if you provided website design services, you may list out qualities like this:

  • Over 20 years of design experience
  • Experience designing well-known branded websites
  • Designed over 500 websites
  • Doesn't utilize templates, each design is fresh and 100% original

Step Two: List Out Benefits From Unique Qualities:

Once you have finished laying out your list of unique qualities, ask yourself what specific benefit this provides your customers. Going back to the website design services, your unique qualities may provide these benefits:

  • A keen understanding of past, present and current design aesthetics
  • A well-known and sought after designer
  • Established creditability
  • A unique website is guaranteed -- no templates ever used

Step Three: Combine Qualities & Benefits Into One Compelling Sentence:

Now that you have both lists, take some time combining different words and pieces into one sentence. The goal for the sentence should be to make it catchy enough to use as your tagline (otherwise known as an advertising slogan).

Sticking with the website example, here are a couple of possible unique selling propositions derived from the exercise above:

  • "A fresh, unique and compelling website -- guaranteed."
  • "When your website needs to be so much more than just good."
  • "Finally, get the website you really want."

Why Create a USP?

Why go through the trouble of creating a unique selling proposition?

Your competing for customers' limited attention. It is important to provide a memorable statement which tells them why they should purchase your product or service. It is likely the customer won't remember much of anything from your advertising materials. The goal of the unique selling proposition is to capture the customer's attention with one catchy sentence -- which may persuade them to purchase your product or service.

History

Rosser Reeves (1910 to 1984), a well-known advertising guru, created the phrase as a marketing concept designed to explain a behavior among successful advertising campaigns. Reeves indicated that successful campaigns made unique propositions to the customer and this alone convinced them to switch brands.

In Reeve's book, Reality in Advertising, Reeves complains that the unique selling proposition is not being used correctly and is obviously not understood. He offers this clarification on how to use the USP properly:

  1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. More specifically, the phrase must say to the audience: "Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit."
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer.
  1. The proposition must be so compelling that is can change consumer behavior.

Examples of Well-Known Unique Selling Propositions

  • "When it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight." FedEx
  • "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand." M&M's
  • "Delivered fresh, hot and tasty in 30 minutes or less -- or it's free." Domino's Pizza
  • "Wonder Bread Helps Build Strong Bodies 12 Ways." Wonder Bread
  • "Have it your way." Burger King

Pronunciation: U-neek Sell-eeng Prop-o-si-tion

Also Known As: Unique Selling Proposition, Unique Selling Point, Selling Proposition, USP, U.S.P, Unique Value Proposition

Common Misspellings: Unique Sales Proposition, Unique Selling Propisition

Examples:

  1. In order to tell consumers about our competitive advantage, we need to craft a unique selling proposition.
  2. Our USP is used throughout all our marketing material, including brochures, websites and business cards.
  3. A unique selling advantage is crucial to create compelling marketing messages.