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In past issues I’ve explained that in marketing all people really care about are the benefits, the “what’s in it for me?” factor. But prospective customers don’t just want to know about the benefits of your product or service – they also want to know about the benefits of buying from your company instead of your competitor. They want to know “what’s so special about you?”

Are you prepared to answer that question?


When people are deciding whether or not they should do business with you, there’s a good chance they’re also evaluating your competitors’ offerings. Have you given them a good reason to pick you? 

The All-Important Unique Selling Proposition

Your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is what clearly answers the question, “Why should I do business with you instead of your competitors?” Often translated into a tagline, the USP should be the basis for all of your company’s marketing efforts. You’ve got to let people know why your products or services are the best choice.

Developing Your USP

How do you determine your USP? Start by finding important benefits that are unique to your product or service. Try looking at. . .

  • A Product Feature – This can be anything about your product, service, or service delivery. For example, Folgers coffee is Mountain Grown. I think most coffee is mountain grown, but they make it sound unique and special.

  • An Emotional Appeal – Perhaps your USP can be based on an appeal to the prospect’s emotions, such as love, humor, or fear.

  • A Possible Association – This is the celebrity endorsement approach. Your product is wonderful because so-and-so says it’s wonderful.

Once you have a good list of possibilities, pick one that is unique (i.e. not being touted by your competitors), believable, and a big advantage. Remember, this should be something that can be used to motivate people to make a purchase!

Using Your USP

The final step is to boil it all down to one clear and concise sentence and then integrate it into all of your marketing materials. Remember, if you can’t figure out what sets you apart from your competition, your prospective clients aren’t likely to see any reason to do business with you either.

What Others Are Saying

"Each time I work with Linda, I am reminded just how well she understands marketing. Linda understands the principles of marketing on a psychological level. She sees the bigger picture. She is pragmatic, insightful and incredibly fast."

Kristine Putt,
Owner and Brand Identity Designer, Paragon Moon