What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)?

USP means ‘unique selling proposition’. Ironically, this boring-sounding term is what makes you really exciting to other people. Your USP is what makes you special.


For your marketing to be even remotely effective, it’s absolutely vital for you to know – and be able to summarise in a single line – what your unique selling proposition (USP) is.

Why? Because if you don’t know what makes you special, why should anyone else care?

Nailing your unique selling proposition can be tricky, but can be fast-tracked by focussing on two questions.

What makes me different from everyone else?

How do you know what makes you different if you don’t know what the others in your market are doing? You don’t exist in a bubble – and neither do your clients. Like it or not, you’re going to be compared.

Here’s a simple way to discover what makes you different:

"If you don't know what makes you special, why should anyone else care?"

  1. Define what you do as best you can (e.g. plumbing)
  2. Define the people you want to do it for (e.g. people in Bondi, Australia)
  3. Google those terms (i.e. plumbing, Bondi, Australia) to find out how others like you are promoting themselves
  4. Take note of the key services and products they’re promoting and the messages they’re conveying
  5. Take note of what’s missing from their sites that you know you offer (or could offer).

You’re specifically looking for any gaps that are likely to be well received by your ideal client. 

It could be a particular service, product, or guarantee. Or it could be that you know everyone in Bondi is groovy-savvy and there are no plumbing websites that look remotely groovy-savvy…and you are pretty groovy-savvy yourself (yes, even plumbers can be groovy-savvy). But is being a groovy-savvy Bondi plumber enough to serve as a unique selling proposition? Maybe. This leads us to the next question… 

Want more articles like this? Check out the business marketing section.

Why should they care?

What does your ideal client care about?

Essentially, most people want to know that:

  • You are reliable; and/or
  • You are responsive; and/or
  • You are worth what you charge; and/or
  • You are someone they want to be associated with (e.g. using your product/service makes them feel groovy-savvy).

The unique selling proposition

The plumber in Bondi will need to promote that he is reliable, responsive and reasonably priced. Why? Because who wants dodgy plumbing for more than a day? And people are watching their wallets – even the groovy-savvy ones. However, most plumbers advertising in Bondi are likely to be saying they are reliable, responsive and reasonably priced.

You need to say it too, but by having a groovy-savvy-looking website you will be also saying “AND we are one of you – we, too, are groovy-savvy”. Of course, you don’t actually print the words ‘groovy-savvy’. It is just obvious from the design of your website – and your business card, flyers, other marketing collateral and personal branding. 

Work it baby, work it

Your unique selling proposition could be a particular service, a guarantee offer, or just a style that your ideal client wants to associate with. The point is that once you know your unique selling proposition, you’ll then be able to work out the most effective way to promote your USP.

A lot goes into a Volkswagen van.

Three small business owners learn to unlock their potential with a Road Test in a Volkswagen van. Click here to watch their day-in-the-life stories and get tips for taking business on the road.

Megan Hills

is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys helping others be engaging and understood. Through her marketing, publicity and graphic design nous, she can maximise the power of what you want to communicate to the people you want to reach.

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