Every business has something unique or original about it.

The challenge is identifying and building on that thing to make you different from the rest.



There’s an old advertising formula that may help you focus on what is unique about your product, service or business. It’s a perfect way to communicate effectively in an overcrowded marketplace like todays.

Many businesses are very similar to others. There really are very few one-of-a-kind products and businesses; so it’s more a matter of how to make yours stand out from the competition.


The four P’s

A business can hang or build its Unique Selling Proposition (USP) on product characteristics, price structure, placement strategy (location and distribution) or promotional strategy.

Together these four components form the ‘four P’s’ of marketing. The four P’s are manipulated to give a business a market position that sets it apart from the competition.

A well identified USP is a foundation stone in building a marketing campaign. It’s THE thing that sets your business apart in a marketplace of competitors, and gives customers a reason to buy from YOU; it makes sure that you are the only real choice.

Your USP also clarifies what your mission is, what piece of the marketplace you’re claiming and how to protect it from others.


Where did it come from

The USP was first proposed as a theory by Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company, to explain the reason for a group of successful advertising campaign in the 1940’s.

The theory stated that this group of campaigns made unique propositions to the customer and that this convinced them to switch brands.

In Reality in Advertising (Reeves 1961, pp. 46–48) Reeves gave a precise definition in three parts of what must be done in order to succeed.:

  1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: “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. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product, and make them act.


How to find or make one

There are three clear areas to work through in identifying your USP:

  1. Live the life of your customer. Know their needs
  2. Know what makes your customers tick. What motivates them and influences their buying habits.
  3. Find the real reason. Understand why your customer will or won’t buy your product/service over the competitors.

If you have an existing business, your life is somewhat easier in that you can answer a lot of these questions by asking, asking and asking questions.

If your business is new, then become a ‘shopper’ of your competitors’ product. Find their strengths and weaknesses as well as the threats and opportunities.


Why you?

Remember that the ultimate reason for a USP is to answer the question …”Why you?”

Why should someone buy from you, or use your service, read your blog or prefer your offer over another’s?

If you keep that simplicity in mind, then identifying your USP won’t create a living hell for you, which prevents you from moving forward.

Another vital thing to keep in mind is that a USP won’t solve all your problems if you don’t back it up with strong actions in other areas to build your business.

But what it will do is differentiate you.

Finding the right USP, and implementing it in your marketing and sales strategies can dramatically increase your business. Used correctly, it will ensure that customers buy from you and not your competitors.


Photo via stock.xchng user m3_fs


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