USP? Do your colleagues even know what one is?

They are worth their weight in gold, yet it’s surprising just how many people don’t know the difference between a specialised business skill or capability and a unique selling point (USP). Ask any of your co-workers what they believe the company’s USPs are, and I bet they will trot out a list of random things that the business may do well, but in truth are very far from unique.

According to, they define it as:
“A unique selling proposition (USP, also seen as unique selling point) is a factor that differentiates a product from its competitors, such as the lowest cost, the highest quality or the first-ever product of its kind. A USP could be thought of as “what you have that competitors don’t.”

Now you know. A USP is a singular offer YOU make (or do) for your customers that cannot be met or bettered by your competitors. What it isn’t is a list of this, that and the other. There are few companies out there that can lay claim to many USPs. The harsh reality is that there’s a lot of competition out there, and no one is so different or compelling that they can steal away all of the customers all of the time.

Yet the power of the USP can be transformational. The trick, of course, is identifying yours. And just because you ‘say’ you have a USP, it doesn’t necessarily mean its true or valid. You need to be able to prove it to your customers. For example, telling your customers that you’re the only company that really, truly cares about their success or well-being is highly subjective and almost impossible to substantiate. Equally, saying you have more qualified experts than the next business, whilst quantifiable, doesn’t mean every customer has equal access to them. In fact, if you were to list 10 USPs about your company right now, my guess is that between 9 and 10 of them would be invalid or easily debunked.

But isn’t that the point? If they were that easy to create, everyone would have them. Don’t be disheartened though. Something you do is likely much better or of more value than your competitors. You just need to know how to identify it.

The most important message you want people to know about you is that ‘special’ capability or feature which only you can deliver, or which you do better than everyone else. In fact, something so compelling, that customers would set aside all other factors (including cost) to ensure that they had it. Having identified it, you then need to establish a way of proving it without the customer having to buy it first.

Here are just a few simple questions to help you uncover your USP(s)?

  • What do you offer your customers that cannot be bought or bettered from anywhere else?
  • What does the perfect customer for this USP look like and are you targeting them?
  • How can you demonstrate to your customers (before they buy) that your offer is better or clearly differentiated against your competition?
  • What specific customer benefit(s) or advantage does your USP create that makes it so compelling for your customer to only select you?

Now put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Look at what you’ve listed and ask yourself; ‘if I were the customer, would this be enough to convince me to only buy it from you?’

To sum up, customer benefits, features and selling points are two-a-penny these days and rarely very compelling to your customer. Unique and differentiated value, on the other hand, is extremely rare and will win your customer every time – so long as they know about it and of course, fully understand it. When you truly uncover your USP, you’ll know, and you can literally take it to the bank. I will leave you with this final piece of advice before you go and work yours out:

You only need one USP to win your next customer. Just make sure it’s a bloody good one!