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Developing Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The most overlooked, underrated, and immensely important strategy that so many businesses fail to understand or develop is that of the Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Without it, you fail to give customers a reason to do business with you. With it, you create a potential monopoly for yourself within your niche.

Look, if you want to be extraordinarily successful, you can’t just be like everyone else - that is to say, ordinary.

Think of all the hair salons near you, what is special about them? What sticks in your head when you think of each one? Is there anything noteworthy about them, something you would tell your friends about?

The answer to all these questions is unfortunately - “nothing.” The same goes for most restaurants, laundromats, dry cleaners, banks, the list goes on.

Most businesses simply exist.

What I’m trying to pound into your head is that – with just a little bit of strategic planning, you can develop or simply recognize your USP. And if you make sure to include it across your marketing, your customers will remember it and you will receive an oversized slice of the market share.

For purposes of this blog post, USP will be synonymous with many similar terms including unique value proposition, differentiating factor, purple cow (see book by Seth Godin), key selling point, brand differentiator, brand promise, competitive advantage, and company or brand positioning.

All these terms are different ways of answering the questions:

  • why are you / your products remarkable?

  • what is the number one reason why someone would choose your company?

  • what do you do better than anyone else in your niche?

If you have not figured this out, then I recommend stopping what you are doing and digging into this question - for it has implications in every other facet of your company.


How I Found My Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

As mentioned in the book, Startup to Sold, it took me a long time to figure out the answer to this question, but when I finally found the answer it was like a magic key that unlocked unlimited growth. The answer took my office from about $4,000 in monthly sales to over $75,000 in sales in just a few short months.

When developing DVD Your Memories, I looked at what every other company was doing and tried to outcompete them at everything. We used 100 year archival DVDs to transfer media, we spent time customizing the DVD case with images from the customer media, we had a DVD player compatibility guarantee, we were local, we had one technician that specialized in each type of media, we created the most robust training for our technicians, we researched and bought the best equipment, we had double-checking systems – we had built a phenomenal business.

While none of these elements were unique in the industry by themselves, it was unique to put them all together in one company. From my perspective that must have been enough. But it wasn’t.

It does not work to overwhelm a customer with advantages - that is lazy marketing for those that can’t figure out their one, true advantage.

A USP needed to be easily understood by customers. There is a reason why it is not the plural, “unique selling propositions,” it is “unique selling proposition.” One advantage. One idea that is sticky and memorable.

Turns out the magic key USP for DVD Your Memories was hiding in plain sight the entire time. And I found it while split-testing (A/B testing) PPC ads.

One day I created an ad that read:

Don’t Send Your Precious Memories by Mail

We’re in San Diego, CA

And nearly overnight the ad click-through rate doubled and sales quadrupled within a month. I knew something was up but didn’t really understand what had happened until asking customers. Every customer gave the same answer when asked why they used our service: because we were local. Turns out people would rather not send their personal memories in the mail and risk them being damaged or lost.

I never realized that being local was an advantage. But it all made sense when you looked at our competition. The competition was just those companies that showed up alongside us on a Google search results page (SERP). We only had to out-compete those companies – and none of them were local.

The growth of DVD Your Memories was fueled by this USP. We opened up local stores in other counties, each time earning the top market share in that area within a couple of months. We eventually became a multi-million dollar business because we found our USP and based our growth on it.

I hope this story can give you some insight and encouragement to go and find or develop that one thing that sets your company apart and gives customers a compelling reason to give you their business.

Helping business owners find their USP is one of my passions and something I love working on. If you'd like to work together with me to find your USP, shoot me an email or visit for more info.

If you’d like some more help and resources to get you started, make sure to check out some of my favorite videos on the subject.

Purple Cow by Seth Godin


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