Do you know what sets you apart from competitors? The answer to this question will help you create your unique selling proposition (USP). The goal of the USP is to interest your customer with an offer they can’t refuse and will want to share with friends. Let’s understand what the USP is all about.

What we will discuss

Rosser Reeves is the author of the term USP

The pioneer of television advertising in America, Rosser Reeves, is the author of the term USP (Unique Selling Proposition). The American advertiser formulated the potential client’s question as: “Why should I choose you?” And to aid advertisers and businesses, he provided clear guidelines that distinguish a USP:

  • show benefit (advantage);
  • stand out among competitors (uniqueness);
  • convince (reliability).
What is a USP?

A Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is a brief description of the reasons why a product or service of a particular brand surpasses or differs from the products or services of competitors. In the USP, a brand briefly and precisely defines what makes it unique in a crowded market of competitors, to stand out and, as a result, sell more of its services and products. The USP is what differentiates a brand from others; it’s a competitive advantage that helps to stand out and make an impression.

USP ≠ marketing offer. Free shipping, seasonal or other discounts, individual approach to customers, or free delivery and guaranteed return—all this is not a USP, it’s standard marketing, writes in the article “Unique Selling Propositions: What They Are, Why You Need Them, and How to Write Your Own”.

unique selling proposition

7 key points for a USP to make you memorable to customers

  1. Choose your niche
    • Remember: “Stand out or perish!” This is not just about USP but also about the essence of your business. For example, “Land issue lawyer”, “Greek food products”, “English for sailors”.
  2. Offer a unique product
    • It can be a product or a service. The main thing is that no competitor offers the same thing. What can you offer? For example, “Extreme quad biking experience”, “Online chat with a celebrity”, “Dry car wash”.
  3. Create an additional service
    • Every business can have an accompanying service. Such an approach will be remembered by your customers. What could this be? For example, on a job search site—”Help with creating a compelling resume upon registration”, “Buy a gym subscription and get a personal training session with a coach as a gift”.
  4. Choose your audience
    • The more specifically you define your target audience, or rather, a clear group of customers, the more effective it will be. For example, “Toy store for girls”, “Hotel with hourly rental”, “Café for men”.
  5. Invent a distinctive feature
    • This is a trait or feature by which customers will recognize you and spread word-of-mouth. This could be “Café with a play area for preschoolers”, “Vocal lessons with the winner of ‘The Voice'”.
  6. Highlight the advantage
    • You can demonstrate your leadership by opinion when you explain why you are #1. Or through recognition via official awards or professional titles. For example, “Every second teenager in the city shops with us”, “Over 50,000 creative goods”.
  7. Show the best
    • If you can measure the result of the service or product you offer, tell your customers about it. For example, “After our wellness programs, clients look 7 years younger than their passport age” or “87% of our course graduates are immediately taken on internships by international companies”.
Components of the USP

Components of a USP

Attracting a customer to increase sales is the main goal of the USP. What is its structure?

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A catchy and noticeable title to attract attention and be easily remembered. Try to fit it into six words. The correct headline contains the 4U formula, invented by David Ogilvy in the 1950s.

4U Formula for Headlines

  1. Usefulness—why are you useful to the customer? It’s better to use verbs—”Take X and get Y”, or “Save 30% of your time”, or “Increase conversion by 70%”.
  2. Unique—how do you differ from competitors? Don’t hesitate to ask your customers why they choose you. If you, as a marketer, are working on promotion, then communicating with the sales department, not just the business owner, will help gather facts and complete the overall picture. Just don’t use the word unique in the headline or offer—it risks making you blend in with competitors.
  3. Ultra-Specific—the more precisely you can choose words that are understandable to your customer, the more recognizable you will be. Remember the classics? “Gillette—the best a man can get” or “EVA—your best friend”.
  4. Urgency—don’t give the customer a chance to think, otherwise, they’ll leave. Setting deadlines is a marketing move that works in sales. For example, “The offer lasts until January 15th”. Or “Buy a yearly pool subscription by October 1st and enjoy 12 months”.
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The main proposal, the main criterion of which is honesty and conciseness. Today, headlines in the style of “black offers”, when a customer is promised to lose 20 kg in a week or buy a famous brand coat for $50, no longer work. Don’t play with the customer’s trust; you’ll only lose it.

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Call to Action

Or call to action—what the customer needs to do to take advantage of your offer: register on the platform, follow a link, or leave contact information.

Theory is over. Let’s move on to practice. Try to create a USP using the formulas suggested below. Let’s go!

How to create a USP?

Below we will look at nine USP formulas. And one more universal formula for creating a USP.

Universal USP formula

Product/ServiceCompetitive AdvantagesWhy buy from you?
You will get fresh hot pizzain 30 minutesor for free
Employee leasingfrom two weeks to three monthsonly verified performers
Investfrom $1without special knowledge of the stock market
Movingin 2 hourswith a 100% guarantee of item safety
Forget about wedding organization problems.We’ll prepare the celebration in 10 days,from the restaurant to the wedding car

9 Working USP Formulas

#1 [Product] + [Benefit]

This classic approach uses the FAB technique: 

  • feature
  • advantage
  • benefit

Example: Submit an application to receive a universal weekly menu from a nutritionist suitable for the whole family. Natural food for busy people. Cream soups. Porridges. Chips. Bars.

#2 [Product] + without + [customer fear]

If you know what your customer fears, offer them a guarantee.

Example: Fresh gluten-free baked goods: taking care of children and adults’ tummies.

#3 [Product/Company] + [feature-1] + [feature-2]

A product’s feature is its unique benefit to the customer. Usually, two to three key factors influence the decision to purchase. Numbers play a key role for potential customers in USP.

Example: Turnkey log house in 2 weeks with a 5-year warranty. Free measurement on the day of inquiry.

#4 [Biggest] + [Product]

Add the word “biggest” to your offer and support it with statistics, otherwise, it’s just empty words. People trust numbers.

Example: The biggest guarantee on braces in Ukraine. *according to 1000 clients who now smile 2.5 times more often.

ROZ the biggest online retailer in the country..

#5 [Creative Feature] + [Product]

Play with the product feature, make several versions to test creatives on the target audience.

Example: M&M’s melt in your mouth, not in the heat. Chumak: from the field to your table.

#6 [Product] + with + [additional value]

Describe your product’s composition so it’s immediately clear why to buy it.

Example: Cream with grape seed oil, restores and nourishes mature skin.

#7 [Product/Company] + as/for + [positive emotions]

A successful comparison is worth a thousand words. Immerse the potential buyer in pleasant memories.

Example: Huggies panties are as gentle as mom’s hugs!

#8 [Only] + [product/company] + [distinction] + in [geography]

Uniqueness is highly valued. Think about what makes your company the only one.

Example: KSystem: the only standing desks in Barcelona with next-day delivery.

#9 [If____] + [then _]

Offering a guarantee? Then this is your formula.

Example: If you don’t learn to swim in a month, we’ll give you your money back.

Pitfalls in Creating a USP

Even if your offer seems perfect, USP needs testing. Here’s a simple checklist to evaluate the USP for benefit and advantage:

  • Does this offer truly resonate with the customer?
  • Could your competitors create the same USP, and how is yours different?
  • Is your USP believable?
  • Is the USP concise? Up to six words?
  • Is the formula: feature — advantage — benefit followed?
  • Did you promise a result, and is it easily measurable? Is the number realistic?
Traps when drafting a TSS

What not to write in a USP

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Avoid general phrases and vague promises. For example, instead of “Fast pizza delivery”, be specific: “We deliver pizza in 35 minutes”. Phrases like “individual approach”, “professional team”, and “high quality” are no longer surprising.

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Use comparisons that are simple and understandable. The phrase “Coat with a thermal insulation density of 365 g/m2” will hardly be clear to the customer. Better: “The coat keeps you warm at temperatures down to -30°C”.

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Stop using “We”. Imagine a user who opens several tabs and reads about a product or service from 5-7 websites in a row. And on each page, they encounter “we”. It’s better to use the company or store name.

USP for a Website

Algorithm for creating a USP infographic

When choosing, the user lands on the homepage of the website, and its task is to “hook” them. For the customer to want to go further, they must pass through four “steps”—came, saw, fell in love, and stayed.

You have 30 seconds to make an impression. If your homepage doesn’t convince the customer, you’ve worked well… for your competitors.

What strategy to choose so that the USP for the website hits the mark?

Immediately Identify Your Target Audience

A narrow niche can also be profitable. You can niche your website or business based on:

  • audience;
  • product;
  • services;
  • tastes;
  • interests.

USP Examples: “Accounting support for lawyers”, or “Toys up to $49”, “Jewelry store for titanium wedding bands”.

Show your speed

Just don’t overdo it by indicating the speed of customer service in your company and don’t write a number influenced by many factors. Better to allow a little extra time and do it earlier than agreed.

Working with you is comfortable

Customers who can afford to pay above the average check value appreciate comfort from collaboration. Highlight the ease of working and the accessibility of your service.

Prove with numbers

Provide your customer with material for comparison and thought, impress with several numbers, at least three:

  • 15,000 items;
  • Collaborating with 10 global logistics companies;
  • Delivery across Europe for 8 €.

Don’t hesitate to mention the price

Some business owners don’t want to put prices on their website. Excuses vary: “the market situation changes quickly”, “quarantine (war) and it’s unclear what will happen”, “everything depends on suppliers”, etc.

However, the customer is not ready to worry and call to find out the price. They are more likely to move to a competitor’s site where the price range is clearly visible.

If you don’t want to specify the price, write it in the format “from $100”, “from $100 to $1000”. Don’t leave the customer without an answer.

Vlad Taran

A marketer’s thought on USP

The best USP is when you didn’t even need the product or service being advertised, but the offer is so interesting and original that you instantly become interested and can’t just walk by without, at the very least, finding out more details.

Vlad Taran, marketer in

stages of USP creation

USP for a Company

Why should a client choose you? If your company’s USP answers this question, you have succeeded in standing out and being memorable.

What sets you apart from competitors? Ask colleagues, management, the sales department, clients, and friends.

What to Focus on in a Company’s USP

number for list one

Specific benefits for the client. For example, when offering training, think about what will impress your potential client: the names of experts you collaborate with. For instance, “We collaborate with 19 practitioner experts + names”.

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Introduce yourself, who are you? Often, companies don’t pay attention to the page where they introduce their company. Today, consumers value transparency and are interested in stories. Why did you create the company, and what’s special about it? For example, “A company specializing in office food delivery”.

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Show your experience. Phrases like many years in the market, extensive experience don’t impress. Be transparent: “Operating since 2001”. Perhaps your company conducts training: “Held 115 off-site trainings in 30 cities of Germany with audiences from 30 to 1000 people”.

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Highlight the advantages. What to emphasize is up to you, the main thing is that these are facts, not stretched benefits. For example, “Company X’s offices operate in 7 major cities of Germany: Berlin, Zürich, …”.

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Show off your achievements, don’t be shy. What can the client remember? Awards, diplomas, organizing grand events, titles, visits by a distinguished guest—this could be a popular figure. For example, “In May 2015, company Y won the X award for achievements in the field of organizing business training”.

Example: USP for Starbucks

Neil Patel, a professional blogger on SEO and internet marketing, talks about how Starbucks grew from a small café in Washington into a place for coffee connoisseurs. Here, premium segment clients are ready to pay $3-5 for a cup of coffee, unlike competitors at gas stations—attracting with coffee prices of $0.99.

Example: USP for Starbucks

The world’s most famous coffee shop chain, with outlets in 60 countries, does not try to flatter the customer. Their USP for customers are transparent and understandable. They don’t talk about a low price, trying to blend in with competitors. On the contrary, the company emphasizes its status. Compare how their USPs sound:

  • Beware of a cheaper cup of coffee. It has its price.
  • We’ve always been crazy about coffee. Now we’re certified.
  • Coffee that inspires.
  • Double up!
  • Starbucks or nothing.
TOS for Starbucks 1.
TOS for Starbucks 2.
Users often jokingly played on the huge sizes of Starbucks cups and suggested making a bucket of coffee (next picture). Starbucks appreciated the joke and indeed made a huge package that can be taken on the road. This is how a joke can also form a USP.

If Starbucks had tried to become popular for everyone, it wouldn’t have been memorable. Interestingly, the business offers not just coffee. Here, a visitor can buy sandwiches, smoothies, juices, and sweets—pastries, cakes for breakfast or a snack. But Starbucks does not compete with McDonald’s. It emphasizes that it is a convenient premium café. Taking into account the psychology of its target audience—not winning by price, but by quality: “You are what you drink. So who do you want to be today?”. It doesn’t grab the potential customer by the collar but leaves the choice to them. And the customer, whose values are quality and freedom, stays loyal to Starbucks since 1971.

Julia Sotnikova

Why USP is not the Holy Grail

A USP is the image of your product. If you haven’t formed it yet, then consumers have already done it for you. You can ask your customers why they buy from you and not from competitors—and that will be your USP. If you don’t like their definition, form your own. A USP is not a guarantee that your product will be bought. But it does ensure that people will perceive your product as you want, not as they like.

Julia Sotnikova, marketer in

Provocation in USP

Banner blindness and immunity to advertising push internet marketers towards provocations. Such USPs are quickly remembered and have an explosive effect. The goal is to draw attention to the brand and firmly settle in the subconscious. However, it’s important not to overdo it. Forbidden topics—religion, direct insults, sexism, and tragic events in advertising are protected by the letter of the law.

Examples of Provocative USPs

  • “We can’t cure your hangover, but we can make your cracked iPhone screen like new in 1 hour”. From TT Wireless—a mobile device repair service.
  • “Knives that can cut through a telegraph pole”. From Zwilling, offering branded kitchenware.
Examples of provocative USPs

When flaws become advantages

Another tactic is when the product’s drawbacks or customer objections about a service are turned into advantages in the USP, essentially shifting the focus of attention to another property of the product.

About the absence of discounts—”There are no discounts or promotions at our karaoke bar at all. Our prices have not changed for 2 years!”.

About the result—”We do not guarantee 100% loan approval, but we do everything possible to ensure you get it”.

Regarding the shelf life—”Our milk lasts only three days because it’s 1000% natural”.

Jokes about USP
Jokes about USP


Feeling overwhelmed after all that you’ve read? Then just remember three main principles when creating unique selling propositions:

  • be specific and honest,
  • consider the true values and needs of your target audience,
  • avoid evaluative characteristics (good, reliable, powerful), persuade with facts.

And let the phrase of advertiser Rosser Reeves guide you: “A unique selling proposition is what makes you interesting to the market. Without it, you simply don’t exist”.

So, start making noise, so people start talking about you!

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