Unique Selling Points

Definition: The factors or considerations presented by the seller as the reason that one product or service is different from, and better, than that of the competition. Also known as Unique Selling Propositions.


The term ‘Unique Selling Point’ is actually somewhat misleading. There is very little that is truly unique in business, with most things having been thought of, and tried before, in some way.

The reasons for identifying USP’s however, are to differentiate your business from the competition, and resonate with your potential customers. With this in mind, a USP may be a combination of a number of attributes, which when combined, are not something the competition generally offers.

One of the keys to effective selling can often be your USP. If you cannot define what makes you and your business unique in a world of homogeneous competitors, it is difficult to target your sales efforts successfully.

Pinpointing USP`s often requires some soul-searching and creativity. One way to start is to analyse how other companies use their USP`s to their advantage. For example, some airlines sell friendly service, some sell on-time service or wider seats. Marks and Spencer base their offer upon quality, Asda sells on price.

Each of the below is an example of a company that has found a USP `peg` on which to hang it’s marketing strategy. These 'pegs'are normally based upon one or more of the following:

  • Price Structure
  • Product Characteristics
  • Availability
  • Locality
  • Promotional Strategy

Here are some methods you may wish to adopt in helping uncover your USP’s:

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes

Too often, businesses fall in love with their product or service, and forget that it is their customer’s needs, not their own, that they must satisfy. Step back from your daily operations and carefully scrutinize what your customer’s really want. Try asking yourself “which means what”, until it does not apply any more, you may have then `boiled down` to the answer.

Know what motivates your customers` behaviour and effects their buying decisions

Effective marketing requires you to be an amateur psychologist!

Try and go beyond the usual customer demographics, such as age, gender, race, income and location, try and discover the motives for making their buying decisions. People react well to emotional messages, think of Seat Cars – “Auto Emotion” and McDonalds – “I`m lovin it”.


Uncover the real reasons people buy from you and not the competition.

The best way to do this is to ask your existing customer base. You may be surprised how honest people will be when asking them how you can improve your service. Consider using anonymous feedback methods if appropriate.


Once you have gone through this three-step market intelligence process, you will need to clear your mind of any pre-conceived ideas about your business and be honest with yourself.

Don’t get discouraged, successful USP`s are not always about being totally unique, it’s about making your product or service stand out in a market filled with similar items. Remember that your USP may be a combination of a number of attributes.

It often helps to discover your Unique Selling Points with someone who is not too close to your business, but fully understands the process. At Aquarius Learning have undertaken this task with many clients, with some amazing results!


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