Everything You Need to Create Your Unique Selling Proposition

No matter what you do, you need a unique selling proposition.

Yes, even if you aren’t selling anything. Your blog or free report needs a unique selling proposition as much as your product or service.

In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know to create a highly effective, compelling USP. If this is a topic that has mystified you so far, you’ve come to the right place!

What is a Unique Selling Proposition?

We could get bogged down with definitions and different terms like unique value proposition, primary benefit statement and more. I’m sure there are volumes written on the difference between various shades of USP.

None of that matters to us, though. For practical purposes, what I’ll refer to as the USP (unique selling proposition or unique selling point) is the answer to the question:

Why should I choose your instead of your competitors?

Whatever your product is, you are offering something. Some benefit or solution.

And you’re probably not the only one offering such a benefit or solution. Your prospects are well aware of this, so the question “why should I choose you?” is on their minds, when they look at your offer.

Especially if you are a startup and you’re up against larger, older and more established brands, having an answer to the above question is absolutely crucial.

Your USP is one thing that clearly separates you from your competitors. Something only you offer.

Keep in mind that this is equally true whether you are selling something or not. Your visitors also need an answer to the question: “why should I read your blog instead of a different one?” for example.

Big, Boring and Successful

BlandExampleIn their book “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing“, authors Al Ries and Jack Trout emphasize the importance of being first to market. According to them, it’s better to be first than to have a better product.

A unique selling proposition is extremely important for any business, but one thing that can throw you off is that you’ll often see market-leading companies that don’t have a very good (or any) USP. In fact, you’ll find small, innovative companies battling against big, boring giants in most markets.

If those giant companies don’t have a good USP, why do you need one?

Because the giants were first. That’s their USP, even if they never state it explicitly. They were the first or one of the first in a (now) big market. They were in a position to gain massive amounts of brand recognition and it’s something you can’t replicate – unless you create a new market.

Trying to create a new market is a huge gamble, which is why I don’t recommend attempting it.

The take-away is: you need a USP, even if your big competitors don’t seem to have one. Sure, you can do without one, but having a strong USP will make marketing and selling your product a million times easier.

The USP Checklist

With this next step, we’ll make your USP more practical and more measurable.

A good USP needs to fulfill these five criteria:

  1. It needs to be unique to your offer.
  2. It needs to be about what your prospects want (it needs to be desirable).
  3. It needs to be short enough to fit into one sentence.
  4. It needs to be clear and specific.
  5. It needs to have the x-factor.


This is, of course, the entire point of a unique selling proposition. Your USP needs to be something that no one else is offering and it needs to set you apart from your competitors.


Your USP needs to be something that your ideal prospect cares about. This means that it doesn’t have to have universal appeal (remember: never try to please everyone), it only has to appeal to a specific group of people.


The end result should be one simple sentence that perfectly summarizes what sets your company apart from all the others. Your USP needs to be short because it needs to be communicated early on.

Your USP does not equal your headline or your tag line, but ideally, your headline and tagline should communicate or at least hint at the USP.

Any visitor needs to be able to learn about your USP within a few seconds and above the fold. If they have to scroll half-way down the page to find out what’s unique about your business, you’ll already have lost most of them.


Avoid fluff-words and conceptual words (e.g. “monetize latent brand equity” might be unique and short, but it’s not at all clear). When you write out your first drafts for your USP, always ask yourself: “how can I make this more specific?”

Don’t talk about how your product saves time, tell me how much time it saves. Be very clear about your statements and write like a human being. Avoid buzzwords and lingo.


The last one, the x-factor, is difficult to nail down. A USP can be unique, desirable, short and clear, but still be bland and forgettable. A USP has the x-factor when it’s really memorable, when it makes you smile or when it has emotional appeal and speaks directly to your own experience.

The right USP with the right x-factor for your ideal prospects can often only be found via testing. Something that works for you might not work for them and vice versa.


Let’s put theory into practice and look at two examples of unique selling propositions and run them through our checklist.

Example 1: StrikeBase


Message: “Power-packed Project Management & Collaboration”

The headline is followed by a list and description of features, which means that beyond the headline, it’s very difficult to find the unique message StrikeBase is trying to convey.

Unique Desirable Short Specific X-Factor
StrikeBase no no yes no no

The message is not unique in any way – every project management tool I’ve ever heard of offers collaborative features. The message (and most of the page’s content) also fails to address anything really desirable. People don’t want to buy a project management solution. They want a result. They want to get work done with a team. They want to keep tabs on what employees are working on and make sure they aren’t wasting money and time.

To accomplish these things, they may need a project management tool, but they desire the outcome that they hope they’ll end up getting.

Finally, “power-packed” is a very vague promise and it’s also an empty benefit.

Empty Benefits

A benefit is only useful if someone could reasonably take the opposite position.

Simplicity is a real benefit. You can claim that a streamlined, minimal solution with no distractions is a good thing. Someone else could sell a different product and claim that all these simple and minimal solutions are too limited and lack features needed to get the job done. This would be using complexity, the opposite of simplicity, as a selling point.

Effective, on the other hand, is an empty benefit, because no one would ever advertise a solution as being ineffective.

Visit StrikeBase here.

Example 2: Pivotal Tracker

Pivotal Tracker

Message: “Build better software, faster” and “agile project management tool for software development”.

Unique Desirable Short Specific X-Factor
PivotalTracker yes yes yes yes Unsure

This is an example of a USP done right.

The message here is very clear and very specific: this is a solution for software development. And not just any kind of software development, but the “agile” kind.

If you aren’t a programmer, you probably don’t even know what that is and that’s fine, because you aren’t in the target market in the first place.

Pivotal Tracker also does a great job of communicating something desirable (building better software, which is what potential clients truly want), unique and being very clear about what their product is about… in just three lines of text.

The only thing I don’t know about here is the x factor. The message doesn’t seem particularly memorable and possibly a better phrasing could be found through extensive testing. I don’t doubt that the current phrasing is already very effective, though.

Visit Pivotal Tracker here.

USP = Headline?

Let’s take a step back: how do I know what the USP for the above two examples is? Do I just check the headline?

Yes and no.

Your USP is a concept and that concept may be communicated in the headline, but that’s not the only place it will be communicated.

The USP needs to be communicated above the fold, though. This may be accomplished with a combination of headline, sub-heading, images and more, but don’t make your visitors scroll down a long page before they can learn what’s unique about your offer. If a visitor takes a 10-second look at your homepage and they don’t know what you do or what’s unique about you, then you need to improve how you communicate your USP.

Lazy Unique Selling Points You Need to Avoid

cheapNow that we’ve seen some practical examples, let’s dive a little deeper into the topic.

A typical go-to USP is “lowest price”.

Newbies love to go for this one when they don’t understand business costs (they look at a competitor and think “I could do that for cheaper”) and don’t realize prices should be based on value, not on margins.

You should never compete on price.

If you do, you start a race to the bottom and you don’t want to be involved in one of those.

As a startup, you also have the odds stacked against you. Bigger companies with established brands and bigger budgets can almost always out-cheap you.

Another USP to avoid is “we offer more”, which is really just a “lower price” USP in disguise. If you tack more features on to your product, offer more storage, more content, etc. than your competitors, that’s a nice bonus, but no more.

Sometimes, offering more can be a good secondary selling point, but it should never be your main or only selling point.

Know Where the Sale is Made

Your USP doesn’t need to do all the selling, all by itself. In fact, it doesn’t need to sell your product at all. That’s what all of your other sales material is for.

The USPs job is not to convince people to buy your product. Instead, its job is to act as an anchor in your prospects’ (and even customers’) minds.

You know how you can read a book and just two weeks later, all you can remember are some of the core concepts?

Your visitors experience the same thing with your website. They won’t read all of it to begin with and they’ll forget most of what they read within hours. The USP is the one thing you want them not to forget.

The Small, Trivial and Overlooked USP

A USP doesn’t always have to be big. Sometimes, a seemingly small or even trivial factor can make for an effective USP. Here’s an example:

Wunderlist Screenshot

Wunderlist is one of thousands of to-do list applications. Their USP is noted in the sub-heading (what a waste of a main headline, by the way…) and becomes clearer in their video: Wunderlist is pretty.

Let’s put the sub-heading through our analysis:

“Your beautiful and simple to-do list.”

Unique Desirable Short Specific X-Factor
Wunderlist yes yes yes no no

We can ignore the “simple” part of the claim, because every single task manager and project manager in existence makes this same claim. It becomes a non-factor.

Whether a to-do list is pretty or not might seem trivial, but dig a bit deeper and you can see why it’s desirable to some people. For example, maybe you’ve just spent a fortune on a brand-spanking-new iPad and now you’re looking for something to show off its capabilities.

Are you going to use some ugly but practical to-do list?

Hell no! Give me that HD image background!

The video they use might have the x-factor, but I think they could definitely be more specific about the fact that their app looks better than the competition’s.

Personal Branding

Here’s another example of  a USP. Get a load of this weirdo:

Personal Branding

Personal branding is a form of adding a USP to any business. For me, this has always been part of what I do. That’s why I often appear on video, I transparently share my own experiences and opinions etc.

The greatest example of personal branding is Gary Vaynerchuk, who very successfully promoted his family wine business with personal videos. Gary is energetic, highly expressive, charismatic, entertaining and at least a little bit weird. He’s also very knowledgeable about wine and can share many valuable and interesting insights.

These qualities make up the USP of the Gary Vaynerchuk brand – the things he brings to the table, that you can’t get anywhere else.

Unique Desirable Short Specific X-Factor
Personal Brand yes yes no no yes

In most cases, personal branding leads to a USP that is neither short nor specific. It’s difficult to put your finger on exactly why Gary has so much success with what he does. There are many facets to a personality and they all play a part.

Personal branding done right is always unique and the desirability comes from the attributes of the person in question. Finally, the x-factor here could be summed up as “charisma”.

If all this makes you think that you can’t possibly do personal branding because you aren’t interesting or charismatic enough, you need to read this.

How to Come Up With a USP and Ensure that it’s Awesome

How do you come up with a great unique selling proposition?

The USP should be a big part of the reason why you even set out to create your business, product or website. Maybe you were looking for a solution to a particular problem, but couldn’t find exactly what you were looking for, so you decided to create a solution of your own.

Maybe you were fed up with all of the other websites in a specific niche being so damn similar and missing the most important points, so you started a website of your own.

In this post with examples of successful online business models, I also wrote about what not to sell. One of the things to avoid are “me-too” products. Simply copying an existing business, thinking you can get a piece of the exact same pie is not a recipe for success.

The same is true for any business that doesn’t start out with a customer focus.

If you create a website or a product because you want more money, you need to change your focus.

At the outset of your business, you need to focus on what you can offer your future customers and why they will be better off buying from you, than from anyone else.

On Reinventing the Wheel

Most ideas are not original. Often, a new product is like an older product, but different in some aspects.

Thrive Leads is not the first list-building plugin for WordPress. Not by a long shot. But we weren’t happy with any of the existing solutions. Most of them didn’t offer the kind of customization or targeting options we were looking. And A/B testing is usually either absent or lousily implemented. Those are just two of the reasons we set out to build a product and both are part of the unique selling point for Thrive Leads.

Testing Your Ideas

Tim Ferriss is famous for his “4-hour” line of books.Tim Ferriss - Author

What’s his USP? A combination of his personality and the 4-hour concept: big goals compressed into a minimal time-frame.

He didn’t just luck out with this idea, either. Before he published his first book, he ran AdWords PPC campaigns, testing several potential book titles against each other. In the ads, he made it seem like the book was already available and he ran the tests until he could clearly determine which title got the most attention (the highest CTR). “The 4-Hour Work Week” won the test, even though it was not his personal favorite.

To test the appeal of your USP, you can do the exact same thing. Alternatively, you can run a survey (like I did to determine the title of my free guide) or find any other means to get feedback from your potential future customers.

Video Example

If you want to solidify your learning even further, here’s a video with a series of unique selling proposition examples. In this video, I pretend to be a content provider and I present five different pitches, based on five different USPs. What you get here isn’t just a succession of brief selling points, but examples of how to turn a USP into an actual sales pitch:

You can find the video and further details in this post.

Next Steps

If you liked this article and you think others might benefit from it, share it on twitter, Facebook and wherever else you hang out!

Write down the answer to the question “why should I choose you instead of your competitors?” and run your answers through the 5-point checklist.

And don’t forget to share your USP ideas as well as your thoughts and questions by leaving a comment below!

Shane's Signature

About the Author Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Shane: I don’t want to nit-pic or get into a semantic discussion, but I believe you’ve taken two different subjects – USPs and brand positioning – and lumped them together.

    First a little history. I’ve been in the “branding business” for over 25 years, and in marketing/advertising for more than fifty. And I’ve written several blog posts addressing USPs and positioning statements at http://www.signaturestrategies.com

    In a nutshell, a positioning statement blooms from the strategic side of the business, the USP is a tactical message that can be short-lived.

    Early on (1960’s) the terminology of a unique selling proposition was created at Ted Bates Advertising, though the idea had been around much longer – I’d say from the beginning of display advertising. It’s sole purpose was to answer your question, “Why buy from me?”. Because Ivory soap floats. Because Anacin is fast, fast, fast. Anyway, these USPs were primarily advertising slogans, tactical, pithy taglines that were, hopefully, a reason to buy from me, not my competitor. Note I used the term “tactical”. They are what they say they are: selling propositions. And if a company hires a new ad agency, they’ll probably create a new USP, but nothing else within the company will change. It’s just a short sales pitch.

    A positioning process where you take a look at the marketplace and determine how you will compete there against large and small competitors, each having already carved out a position within the market. So you need to differentiate your product in a way valuable to the customer. This could begin with defining your business model, or at least your product development process. We are talking strategic, not tactical here.

    Branding/positioning should be a strategic process for defining a company – or a person. A UPS is selling proposition expressed as a slogan. You should have a different perspective and mind-set when creating each.

    • Paul says:

      Hi Martin, can you link specifically to the most informative posts about USPs that are on your blog? I had a look but you have so much content there that I couldn’t find a post about USP’s specifically.

      By the way, the reason you’re getting the strange character encoding is to do with the charset of your blog. You can change the charset so that it better matches the keys that you’re. You’re using UTF8, you may want to try ISO-8859-1 to see if that gets rid of them (here’s a screenshot of what I mean: http://screencast.com/t/Bi7i0abNha)

    • Sean says:

      Hey Martin,
      You make some great points. Are you saying you don’t believe a USP can have strategy and tactic included?

      My USP is “We grow businesses 20% – 100% in 90 days or less, without increasing advertising cost.”

      I think that includes both. But would love your thoughts/feedback.


  • One additional thought, this one about criteria: if you hear or read a slogan, and your first thought is, “Well, I should hope so.”, then you’re dealing with a platitude, not a USP.

  • Howard says:

    “…rocket surgery…”


    Which brings up the question of “Why should you subscribe to Musical Notes Newsletter?”

    Answer… Hmmmmmmm… I need to work on that one. Maybe the lack of a clearly identifiable USP is the problem.

  • Excellent post and video Shane.

    In only the short few weeks since I stumbled across you by accident really, I’ve not only become a fan of your products, but I appreciate your great content as well.

    I think you’re a good inspiration to many out there. Keep up the great work!

  • I am wandering about how to create USP to resell (let’s say on Amazon) re-branded physical products manufactured/distributed by wholesale supplier that everyone else also can buy and resell under his own brand name. The main issue here – all these differently “branded” products looks the same and do the same.

    HOW…??? any ideas?

    Maybe this should be about brand positioning instead?

    But still – HOW to do it with physical products that you have no control over design and development???


    • Shane says:

      Well, that’s not an ideal situation.

      A big part of marketing is in the product itself. The situation you’re describing is basically saying: “I can’t change the product, only the message”.

      I guess that’s an advertising job, with the added issue that there are potentially dozens or hundreds of other companies selling and advertising the exact same product.

      I can’t really give you great advice about this, I’m afraid. I’d suggest reading up on books that are written by advertisers, i.e. people who always need to sell a product without being able to change anything about that product.

      • Yes, you’re right – it is hard to do and results are mostly unpredictable.

  • Vic Dorfman says:

    The “22 Immutable Laws” book series by Al Trout and Jack Ries should be *required reading* for marketers. Talk about pithy!

    The more you’re in this game, the more you see that a systematic, principles-oriented approach to business wins over disorganized hustle. …Ahem, excuse me: disorganized grind. ;-)

    I’ve been offering services on the Warrior Forum since my first days online and I’ve found that the “x-factor” can be as simple as overpromising and OVER-overdelivering on your service.

    So if your competition writes 500 word articles for $10 a pop, you can say that you only accept 1000+ word article orders and charge $50 an article. Which is not at all unreasonable considering how much time and love it takes to write a really ‘epic’ piece of content (as you all probably know!)

    So while your service is essentially the same as your competition’s, you’ve positioned yourself as a premium service and your headline can reflect that fact.

    So positioning and USP overlap because USP answers the question: “why choose you over your competition” while positioning answers the question “why pay more for essentially the same service as your competition offers?”

  • Mark Salmon says:

    Hi Shane,

    This is how look at it in simple terms thanks to Richard Dobbins.

    To create competitive advantage you just need to be a little bit:
    – better, or
    – nicer, or
    – faster, or
    – cheaper

    ‘Nicer’ refers to nicer to deal with – for example Waitrose supermarket is a nicer shopping experience than Asda which is cheaper.

    ‘Faster’ refers to for example being a local business – where your local proximity is your competitive advantage. Alternatively a faster delivery – e.g. Amazon S2/3 delivers your files faster than your shared host.

    You only need to be 10 or 15 % better, nicer, faster or cheaper. You then need to market this as your USP and, if your customers value this point of difference, then this is your USP.

    • Shane says:

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your comment!

      I’ve mulled this over quite a bit and I can’t help but disagree. There are several problems with better, nicer, faster, cheaper, that I can see.

      First, “better” can be eliminated, because everyone claims to be better. It’s an empty benefit (no one would ever claim to be worse) and it’s not specific enough.
      The idea is probably to explain why the product is better… and that puts you back in the kind of territory where you need some sort of a model for your USP (unique, desirable, short, specific, anyone?).

      Cheaper leads to the problem with racing to the bottom. Unless you can show me your “factory” that is on a different level from what your competitors are doing, cheaper is not a good idea.
      Hypothetical example: let’s say you have a translation service. Everyone in the industry is paying people to do translations. You can offer a much cheaper solution, because you’ve developed a technology that can create perfectly readable translations, indistinguishable from human-made translations. This cuts out all the human resource costs and that’s why you can offer your service cheaper.
      If it’s just a case of “I’ll charge less/I’ll pay people less”, then you’re gonna have a bad time.

      As for nicer and faster: those aren’t bad, but they’re still a bit limiting.

      Take Pivotal Tracker, one of the examples in the post. What makes it different from other project management tools? It has a completely different focus, outside the scope of better, nicer, faster, cheaper.

      And if a new company wants to enter the game with their own tool for managing agile-based software development projects and they choose better or nicer, or faster or cheaper as their USP, they’ll have a hard time because they weren’t first to market and the USP isn’t a strong differentiator.

      I think it comes down to this: better, nicer, faster, cheaper is too product-centric.
      I can take a product and make it one of those things.

      I think the thing that’s missing from the list and that makes the most powerful USP is “specificer”, which would equal a solution that’s more specifically suited to a the needs of a particular target audience.

      Well, enough of my rambling. I think “faster” and “nicer” are useful. Wunderlist is an example of that (using “nicer”). The others I can’t quite agree with.

      • Mark Salmon says:

        Hi Shane,

        Your ‘specificer’ (is this a new word?) can be applied to all scenarios – you always have to be specific about why you are better, nicer, cheaper or faster – this is how you create your perceived or actual USP. For example: ‘in a test sample of 100 grocery products we were 12% cheaper than these 4 competitors.’

        I’m not advocating that small business should aspire to be ‘cheaper’ – quite the opposite. Most small businesses under-price because they don’t identify their USP and market their point of difference.

        However, ‘cheaper’ is an option for any business and can’t be discounted altogether. Take your translation example for instance, technology may not deal very well with personal face to face conversation. It could be better or nicer or faster (but not cheaper) to have a personal translator.

        With regards to Pivotal Tracker, they may be first to market but it doesn’t mean that a company like Google couldn’t come in and create a free competing product or a better product. Take GoToWebinar for example – Google Hangouts are about to decimate their business model.

        I’m sticking with my model because it’s simple(like me!)



      • Mark Salmon says:

        Just add another thought:

        I bet you buy Warrior Special Offers. Why – because they’re ‘cheaper’ than paying full price when the Special Offer is over. In fact I bought Hybrid Connect when it was on offer because it was better (and cheaper at the time I bought it.) So you are using ‘cheaper’ in your business Shane!

  • Mark says:

    Nice. I thought of one for my site halfway through the post.

  • Bruce says:

    And in a parity-product world (who really needs 50 brands of cereals?) it’s worth remembering that a USP can not only be “something unique that no one else can say/claim” but also “something unique that no one else is saying/claiming”.

  • Tim Costin says:

    Hey Shane,

    Great post.
    I’ve been following you for about a year now and I always find your content clear, concise, and valuable.

    I sell hard goods. Specifically items that I personalize for my customers. It’s know as etched glass or personalized gifts.

    Anyway, I’m struggling with my USP. I do some of the same items as my competitors, but I do them differently. I include all my customers in the design phase of their gift. They love it, but I’m not sure how to convey this point as a USP.

    None of my competition does this. So, I’m trying to find a way to let my potential customers what makes us different.

    Would love to get your input.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.


    • Shane says:

      Hi Tim,

      In your position, I’d ask the customers about it.

      If you can connect with your customers and have them answer a few questions like:
      – Was the contact we had with you during the design phase important to you? If so, why?
      – What did you like about it, what could we improve about it?
      – Would you recommend us to a friend? Why/why not?

      Not only will you be able to gather really valuable feedback this way, but you’ll also be able to find out what words your actual customers use to describe what makes your service better.
      This isn’t always a sure-fire way to find a good wording for your USP. You may still have to dig into the notes you take from customer feedback and then find a way to express the main statements in a USP. However, it’s a great starting point, at the very least.

      • Tim Costin says:

        Thanks Shane.
        That’s great advice.
        I’ll send out a survey and see what I get.
        I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my post.

        All the best,

  • Wow – your article really helped me to start developing an effective USP for my guitar lesson website. Thanks! I’ve been using “Learn to Play Real Guitar” without taking time to think about whether it’s effective or not.

  • Shane,

    go to the church, light a candle and thank god for all the brain he put in your small head.
    I don’t know how you always manage to put together these IQ-Posts.
    May be you stopped sleeping at night.

    Should i try this?


    • Shane says:

      I’ve tried various forms of not sleeping. Can’t recommend any of them.

      Apart from that: do whatever works for you. My preferred method is the one you already know about (the Grind). :)

      • On the “Grind” front have you read Malcolm Gladwell’s research on the subject in his book: Outliers – The Story of Success, where he explains the 10,000 hour Rule?

        To get to Mastery, it takes 10,000 hours of practice – and if you put the time in (and have a few other advantages) you can become The Beatles, Bill Gates, Bill Joy, or even Mozart….

        Well worth a read,


      • Paul says:

        This is one of my favourite books – I have to say I found the plane crash chapter most interesting.

        It’s clear that intelligence is often not the main driving force behind the success of many people. And it’s also clear that a certain amount of luck is involved – especially prevalent in Bill Gates’ story to success.

        I recently watched an interesting video on YouTube recently about Christopher Langan (the guy who Gladwell described as insanely intelligent but didn’t achieve the stereotypical definition of success):- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggur-Ca2nzs

        I think Gary Player put it very nicely indeed: “The harder I practice, the luckier I get”

      • Shane says:

        Yes, I have read that and I enjoyed it very much. There are many illustrations of just how little so-called “talent” has to do with any kind of natural gift.

  • Joe says:

    If I am an affiliate for physical Amazon physical products and use review sites, do you think I could use the fact that this is the deepest review available. and how much time and effort goes into every review I do. Could this be used as a USP although the review is, in fact, a presell.

    • Shane says:

      Hi Joe,

      Yes, saying that your reviews are the most detailed, most relevant and most useful is a good claim to make. Time and effort is less of a selling point. People want a result and it doesn’t matter whether it took someone a lot of time or very little time to deliver that result to them.

  • Hi, Paul…

    Well, I referenced the wrong blog it appears. My posts about positioning statements and USP are on my blog entitled “thebrandingblog.com”

    Here are the specific posts:


    And thanks for a solution to the “character” issue. That’s plagued me off and on since I began blogging.

  • Iain says:

    Great post about creating a USP.

    This is something that I feel a lot of websites overlook when they are first starting out.

    It falls under the list of things to do. Over time they create one, but it may not be as solid as it could be.

    I’m going to be citing this post in one of my own. It’s a great resource for people looking to create a USP.


    • Shane says:

      Yeah, I’m guilty of that myself, as well. This site started out with a completely different focus than what it has now.

      That said, a USP does not have to be set in stone. It’s a business element that can be tested and refined, over time.
      (I didn’t do that soon enough, either…)

      • Iain says:

        I completely agree with you. A USP can adapt over time to who you are and what you stand for.

        It doesn’t have to be set in stone, but it does have to set the tone.

        There are people out there who change it up very often.

        I’m not sure if that is good mind you, but they do it.

  • Your article is informative and your video inspired me to think up a new way to pitch my lovely music Trio’s Piano Pasion and Guitar Latino.
    I have been reading ALOT about USP and Internet Marketing (Tim Ash and stuff) so this was no small feat.
    I will save your URL and check in from time to time.

  • This is one of the best introductions to USP I’ve seen, and at the perfect time for me as I am launching my business site and have really struggled with this one.

    I think my problem is that I have two definitive areas of service – I build unique WordPress sites, and I create designs that make brands stand out.

    These two things normally work together, since most my clients work with me to improve the graphics on their WordPress site OR work with me to customize or help maintain their WordPress site.

    The common factor is uniqueness, I think. WordPress sites are a dime a dozen, and too many of them look exactly the same. I build sites that have personality and stand out.

    But how do I encapsulate all that into one line :(

    Obviously I need to work on this but I would love your thoughts! :-)

  • Ngoc Nguyen says:

    Hi Shane, this post helps me a lot in defining USP for my business. But the definition of empty benefit in this post I think is conflict with other factors of a good USP.

    Can you clarify it more for me?

    Like you said, Message of Pivotal Tracker “Build better software, faster” and “agile project management tool for software development”.

    Better – Faster here are empty benefits as your definition. No one advertise for a solution that is Worse and Slower.

    I agree that Pivotal Tracker’s USP is very specific (agile project management for software business) but it deliver empty benefits so how can it have unique factor?

    • Shane says:

      Hello Ngoc,

      Thanks for your comment! With the Pivotal Tracker example, the “better, faster” part is indeed a weak message. The strong message they show is the one about “agile project management for software development”. The reason this ends up working is that specifically the idea of building better software is desirable to their target audience and the “agile project management for software development” line essentially delivers on the “better, faster” promise. So, instead of just claiming that their solution is better and faster, they offer a hint of a reason as to why it’s better and faster: they have a project management tool that is made specifically for this purpose, which sets it apart from general project management tools.

      If the offer was for a “Super fast and easy task manager for all your project management needs”, then the “fast and easy” part would be an empty benefit with nothing backing it up. Do you see the difference I mean?

      I should also say that these assessments are at least in part subjective. It’s possible that a message that strikes me as being a good USP just doesn’t work for you.

  • Bryn says:

    I am a transformational speaker and coach. I seek to help people escape the dull everyday life of surviving and enter a world of possibility. To shed the shackles of “have to” and free themselves to believe in can and want to. I am not sure how to sum that up in a USP. I am know for my electric energy and inspiring anecdotes and metaphors. I know how to make things relatable. Please help if you know of how to fashion a usp where you are the product and what you sell is service and intangibles.

  • Sean Isaacs says:

    Hi Shane,
    What a pleasure to come across your article. I have been writing and teaching on the importance of discovering, creating and defining your USP for almost 10 years. I have read many articles, books and watched many videos on the subject. I was very much impressed with your content and writing style. So much so, that I decided to join your mailing list for your 6 week video program. And intend to read a few more of your articles before turning in for the night. Thanks for taking time to give real value when so many are writing and producing fluff, with the intention of making a quick sale. Much of what you said here resonates well with me and I can tell you are well read and an experienced marketer. Thank you.

    to the question “why should I choose you instead of your competitors?” – My answer:

    Using an 8 Pillar Marketing System, I grow businesses 25% – 100% in 90 days or less, without increasing advertising cost.

    P.S. Great video

  • Anthony says:

    Hi Shane, great blog post. I am trying to get in the IM niche reviewing products. I will appreciate a little example to write my UPS. I have written about 10 different UPS but none sound good.can you give me some examples how to go about it..

  • Jason Alders says:

    Great content. Something that’s challenging from within your own bubble. It would be great to have feedback from people in a forum for this.

    • Indeed, it’s one of those things where we are too close to our own business to see it clearly, unless we make a deliberate effort to step back. And ask the right questions. For getting feedback from others: that could be helpful for sure. I don’t know where one would get this, though.

  • Karen McCamy says:

    Another extremely beneficial article, Shane…

    I’m struggling with this right now… Your examples are great in helping me grasp the scope of this concept; I think had too narrow a vision of what the USP truly is…

    In your opening paragraphs something struck home… “Even if you don’t have a product…”

    So, I’m thinking my USP needs to be on a larger scale and represent my entire website/business. (I think some other articles I have read lead me to believe it was “individual-offer” specific…or related to a free download or promotional email…)

    Am I correct here?

    [btw…I’ve commented before so not sure why I’m still considered a “guest” by Thrive Comments… ]



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