Your business needs a unique selling proposition.

Al Ries and Jack Trout, legendary marketing experts, write in their book: 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

“If you can’t be first in a category, create one you can be first in.”

Because if you haven’t invented something completely new, you’ll be fighting over market share, and you’ll look like a just another commodity.

What’s wrong with being a commodity? Buying decisions for commodities are judged on price…

What’s wrong with being judged on price? It’s a race to the bottom.

As a small business owner, you know being unique in your market is a must to make choosing your product or service an inevitable choice…

…especially when people are being conservative with their income (such as a recession).

So you want to position yourself as a unique necessity and not a discretionary commodity.

So here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What is a unique selling proposition?
  • How to create a unique selling proposition (look for the unique mechanism)
  • Examples of successful USPs

Let’s jump right into unique selling propositions…

What Is A Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

what is a unique selling proposition

A unique selling proposition, or USP, is how you differentiate yourself from your competition, that your target customers deem valuable.

Your unique selling proposition has to be just that, unique. This means using “customer service”, “premium products”, “#1 rated” aren’t going to cut it.

Your prospective customers have heard these terms before and thus tune them out.

Why do I need a unique selling proposition?

Think about the last time you looked at the brand of your bananas or oranges…

You probably never have because it’s a commodity. It’s a purchase you make when it’s cheap. You look at price before you look at brand, much like your potential customers.

Small businesses have more of a reason to create a USP because competition in their industries tend to be so plentiful.

A successful business will analyze their competition and customer problems to position their solutions in a unique way.

Why businesses without USPs fail

As I mentioned earlier, having no USP places you in the commodity bucket so you’re having to differentiate on having the lowest price.

Eventually you’ll hit the bottom and will be out of the game.

Successful businesses are building a brand around their USP and answer the question: “Why should I choose you?”

Let’s look at how to create a USP…

How To Create A Unique Selling Proposition?

how to create a unique selling proposition

Developing a unique selling proposition starst with unique point of view.

Start with this exercise:

“Our [company/product or service] helps [target customer] solve/get [goal/challenge/problem] by/with [unique mechanism].”

Keep this statement in mind as you read on…

3 Types Of Unique Selling Propositions

When we think of ways to differentiate, there are three types of USPs that come to mind, and we can look to the Spark Authority Model

The three are: people, process, and product.

These three are afterall, what your business is made of.

But before we go deep into those, let’s cover a concept coined by Eugene Schwartz, master copywriter, called the unique mechanism.

The Unique Mechanism

In his book, Breakthrough Advertising, Eugene Schwartz coined the concept of the unique mechanism.

The unique mechanism is the unique way in which your product or service delivers the target customer’s desired end result.

How is that unique mechanism better, stronger, faster than how competitors deliver their product or service?

This brings us to our 3 types of USPs…

When you think of what your unique mechanism can be, think of your people, your process, and your product.


  • Who specifically you serve that no one else can
  • How your team is uniquely qualified above your competition
  • How you understand your customer better than your competitors


  • How you serve differently and better
  • What tools you leverage to deliver the desired end result
  • What signature process you’ve created to get results


  • What unique features and benefits your products or services have
  • How your products or services are better, faster, stronger than similar ones in the market
  • How your products or services also meet unknown needs for your customers

Questions to consider when creating a USP

When deciding what unique selling proposition you’ll create for your business, consider these points from Tim Williams, author and positioning expert.
In his book, Positioning For Professionals, Tim challenges you to validate your USP by asking yourself these questions:
  • How authentic does your value proposition feel?
  • Does it make your company intensely appealing?
  • Has it a strong barrier to entry?
  • Is it hard to find an exact substitute?
  • Does it result in fewer competitors?
  • Can you charge higher prices?
  • Does it make your sales cycle shorter and less expensive?
  • Have you created a new category?

Remember that a true unique selling proposition provides value to the customer and differentiates you from the competition—an unfair advantage.

Examples of Successful USPs

Black Rifle Coffee

unique selling proposition - black rifle coffee

Black Rifle Coffee’s unique selling proposition focuses on People.

They sell a commodity, coffee, but have differentiated by targeting former military, outdoorsman, hunters, etc. which is untapped prior to BRC.

You can see this USP on their website, advertising, messaging, etc. They’ve created a category of one in the specialty coffee industry.


usp - fluent forever

Fluent Forever’s unique selling prop focuses on Process.

They sell language learning services centered around a proprietary method created by their founder.

Because of the success of their signature process, they’ve built a cult-like following from language lovers and polyglots around the world.


unique value proposition - chubbies

Chubbies’ USP focuses on Product.

They’re selling items like swim trunks and shorts which are not only commodities but seasonal as well.

Because they focus on the quality of the product vs. the typical cheap board shorts, mixed in with a killer email newsletter, they’ve hit on an unmet need in the market.

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