Branding Essentials: Why Unique Selling Proposition Is a Must-Have Sales Tool

Standing out among the crowd in the vast business world needs all the help you can give it. You have to make your business unique to your demographics in order to be found. One way to do that is with your unique selling proposition (USP) which basically means having a unique place in your market niche.

Your USP is what convinces customers of the value of your company, its products or services. It’s what sets you apart from your competition. Using it throughout all your marketing campaigns is what will, in the long run, make them successful.

unique selling proposition

Many of your prospective customers may have trouble determining which company deserves their money, time and trust. It can be daunting for those customers who aren’t experienced in knowing what separates the different competitors in an industry.

That’s why your company needs to help them by having a unique selling proposition that is different, obvious and easy to remember.

You want to be able to show them your unique value and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

As Theodore Levitt, author and professor at Harvard Business School, says:

“Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.”

One way to tell what a good USP is to look at some from other businesses. Some examples of USP’s you might recognize include:

“When it absolutely, positively, has to be there overnight.” FedEx 

“The nighttime, coughing, achy, sniffling, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine.” Nyquil

“We Try Harder” Avis Rent a Car

“Finger lickin’ good.” Kentucky Fried Chicken

Your USP is not necessarily your slogan. They can and often are different. Your USP tells what makes your company unique and the benefits it offers its customers.


A slogan is usually a quick, easy to remember phrase used for branding.

Think of McDonald’s slogan: I’m lovin’ it.

That doesn’t’ tell you what the company is about.

A solid unique selling proposition lets you stand out from your competitors. It allows you to focus your time and resources on creating things that specifically cater to your ideal customers.

Finding your USP

Finding your unique selling position and the value you add to your customers might come easy for you or you might need some help. There are several ways you can do this. One way is to ask yourself certain questions. Another is to make a list. Either method will help you come up with ideas of the value you can offer.

It might take you some time to develop a good USP and it may even involve more than one person. Discuss it with your partners or other people whose feedback you value. Don’t forget to include your customers.

Questions you should ask yourself:


Basic questions:

1. What products or services are you selling?

2. Who is your target audience?

3. What does your business do well?

4. What is your most important customer-focused business goal?

In depth questions:

1. What are you or your products unique strengths? Its weaknesses? Its unique benefits?

2. What is lacking in your market?

3. What does your market want?

4. What about your solution to your market’s problem is better than or different from your competitions?

5. What specific emotional needs are being met by your service?

6. What aspects of your product make it difficult for your competitors to duplicate or imitate?

7. How can you answer your customer’s primary concern: “What’s in it for me?”?

8. What pain or discomfort does your product or service alleviate or take care of?

9. What does your product do better than your competition? Are you faster, more thorough, or more knowledgeable? Are you more reliable or have better terms?

10. Do you offer a better or longer or more comprehensive warranty than is normal in your industry?

11. Does your company make it easier for the customer than your competition? How? What about in these areas:

– More customer education and teaching?

– Free consultations?

– Bonuses?

– Incentives?

– Better customer service and follow-up?

– Preferred treatment for preferred customers such as frequent buyer’s clubs, etc.?


Find Your True Value …

There are different angles you can take as well. The one you take depends on your strengths, your market and your interests. Here are a few idea starters to get you thinking creatively:

The Information Provider: Are you someone who provides a wide variety of information to your market? You might publish a lot of articles on a variety of topics within your niche.

The “Exposer”: Are you working in a market with a lot of misinformation and people spreading this information for their own agenda? While you may not want to be out to pick fights, you might be the “exposer” who shows your readers the truth and their options.

The Example: Are you living what you’re teaching? Have you lost 50 pounds or have you helped a lot of clients get free publicity? If you’re living what you do, you can pass on your knowledge through example.

The Analyst: Do many people in your market skim over the details, but you like to take the time to analyze and explain them?

The Step-by-Step Teacher: Does a segment of the market crave step-by-step help…a map laid out for them? Do you have a knack for explaining things in logical steps and process? Do you like to create step-by-step tutorials, videos and other help?

The Cheerleader: Does your market need encouragement and is this something you like to do? Do you like to interact and give your readers that extra push to accomplish their goals?

The Knowledgeable Service Provider: Are you a service provider who can offer additional information that is useful to your clients? Perhaps you work as a bookkeeper, but provide tips on better managing money, working with a bookkeeper, etc.

The questions might be hard to answer and might even seem daunting, but remember that’s the kind of reaction your customer’s might be feeling when choosing who they want to work with or buy from as well.

Take your time to do some soul searching and drill down how you can benefit those you serve when trying to come up with your USP. is now in Puebla!

A lesson in marketing from Idea Interior

Idea Interior is the closest thing to Ikea in Mexico and I am glad to announce that we now have it in Puebla, Mexico! I have to say that I am hardly ever impressed with the marketing skills of new stores in Mexico, but Idea Interior sure knows their stuff.

Before the Grand Opening: A good name and good advertising

Prior to the big grand opening, Idea Interior announced that they were coming to Puebla by putting huge red banners all over the entire construction site.  Although we had no idea of what products were going to be sold, we guessed from the name that they would be selling furniture.  The huge red banners had the name and the date that Idea Interior would be opening.  They also had the unique selling proposition displayed on their banners that they would have over 10,000 square feet of floor space to see all their products.  The location chosen for the new store was ideal.  A new Wal-Mart was being built so they purchased the entire second floor of the new shopping center.  Timing was great.  They opened a few months after the new Wal-Mart opened and just before the holidays.  Opening just after Wal-Mart did, they were able to get foot traffic from Wal-Mart without having to compete directly with Wal-Marts grand opening.

Opening Day

Although we missed the grand opening, we visited Idea Interior just a few days after it opened.  We were greeted at the entrance of the new shopping center by friendly sales reps dressed in red t-shirts and carrying huge signs, passing out well designed marketing brochures telling us about the new store convenienty located on the second floor.  Although we were going to get some quick shopping done at Wal-Mart, we decided to take a “quick” look around.  We were quickly impressed.

Our visit to Idea Interior

Walking in the doors of Idea Interior the first thing you see are all the products laid out in a typical apartment like setting in the typical living space of 600 square feet.  Yes I said 600 square feet… and that is for the entire home in Mexico.  Puebla has a lot of new construction and the majority of the homes will range from 50-75 square meters with the average being 60 square meters… for the entire home.  The home usually includes the living and dining room, a small kitchen, 2-3 bedrooms, and a laundry area usually located in the back patio. We lived in such a home for our first 5 years in Puebla so I speak from experience of how important it is to be able to be extremely organized and have many items that can be decorative but extremely functional as well.  I digress.  Needless to say, we were impressed.  The first thing we see when we walk in was all the products laid out in the way they can be used in the home!  A complete kitchen was set up with fridge, chairs, tables, tableware, tablecloths, magnets, and so on! A very small bathroom was set up with a sink with built in cabinet for sale.  The sink literally measured six inches from wall to the edge of the sink.  The faucet was pointed sideways and a small cabinet was under the extremely space concious sink.  Trust me… Mexican bathrooms are usually very small so a small space conscious sink is a great item to sell in Mexico!  Two bedrooms were set up on display as well as a living room with couches, bookshelves, and even books.  Their marketing did not stop with just showing how the items could be used.  On every single item there was a little tag with the price and the words, “This product can be found in …. department.”  Amazingly as well, the prices were extremely competitive. We are used to seeing products marked up 200-300% of what you would find them for in the states.  This was a great breath of fresh air! Yes, we were impressed.

As we walked a few steps into the store we saw some more product displays set up as living areas, but this time targeting the owners of larger living spaces.  This was great!  They started with showing how you can use their items in the smallest of spaces, and then upgraded to showing how to use their products in larger spaces!  As we continued our journey we quickly realized that this store was not set up like the typical furniture or home interior store.  Idea Interior did something I had never seen a store do before.  As we continued in, we found that we did not have to make a decision of what we wanted to look at first.  The entire store was set up on a single path.  You had to follow the path through the entire store to see things and there were NO exits!  (Yes of course there were emergency exits.) There was even a map outlining the entire walking course through their store showing you how long it was going to take you to get to a certain section.  After passing the initial entrance, the rest of the store had more of a warehouse type of feel to it.  Having already seen how all the products could be used, we did not mind at all the warehouse atmosphere.  Now of course if you see something, you will want to add it to your cart immediately, as going back to that place where you first saw it, would quickly become a hassle.  But how many people actually go back for something.  Most purchases are impulse buys.  By having the store set up where it is inconvenient to go back to pick up, I believe will further encourage people to add things to their cart.  They can of course always take it out later!

As we made our way through the store, something happened to us that had never happened before in Puebla, Mexico!  I know this will be hard to believe, and for some very hard to understand, but the workers in the store actually said “Hi” to us!  We were literally in shock when a guy carrying a cleaning bucket who was obviously part of the janitorial staff, looked us directly in the eyes, smiled, and said hi!  To our utter disbelief, this happened no less than 5 times before we made it out of the store.  Every time we walked by a worker, they greeted us!  What is even better is that they were not annoying sales people following us around the store trying to sell us things.  They were just simply friendly.  Digressing here… I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate it when an unsmiling, unfriendly salesperson follows me around the store, two feet behind me, trying to wait on me… so annoying.  First they are in my personal space, second, they are not helpful, they don’t know enough to answer quesitons, and the net effect is to make me to want to get out of the store and annoying situation as fast as possible.  Not Idea Interior.  The workers were friendly and I knew they were there if I needed to ask a question.

Idea Interior did not stop here though.  Half way through our visit of their 10,000 square feet I was feeling a little thirsty and tired.  Guess what they had!  A little rest area with a couple couches, a soda and snack machine, tables and magazines!  We bought a soda, sat down, rested, checked out the magazines, and basically got re-energized so we could finish our shopping trip.

As we left, I noticed that they only thing missing is that they did not get my email address so that they could follow up the visit with a targeted email campaign.  I would have had someone standing at the exit with free soda and snacks and ask the customers as they left if they would like a free soda or snack and then ask them to take a quick survey and get their email address.  When we went back a few weeks later, I noticed that they now had a raffle promotion going on where they were offering a free entry in the raffle in exchange for contact info… so we were just too early for that.  I have to say, we were impressed.

Internet Marketing Lessons I learned from Idea Interior

  1. Have a good name.  Be sure the domain name of my website is descriptiive enough so that people can figure out what I am selling just from the name.
  2. Announce my site ahead of time.  Even if I just put up a name and date, announce the site to build up anticipation and advertise it.
  3. USP.  No, not UPS.  Have a unique selling proposition that helps set my site apart from the competition.
  4. JV Opportunities.  Look for joint venture opportunities to get traffic and customers from other non-competing sites.
  5. Advertising.  Create great landing pages that advertise the offers and USP of my site and send the traffic to these landing pages when they come into the site.
  6. Creative Copy.  Always show your customers how they can use your proudcts by using the FAB, feature, advantage, benefit method of copywriting.
  7. Have different copy for different customers.  Think of your market and craft your salescopy for the different markets.
  8. Live Chat. Be friendly to my customers and just say Hi!  Be accesible to them with an 800 number.
  9. Funnel Marketing.  Have a specific sales funnel for my customers and know where they are at any given time in the sales funnel.
  10. Look for ways to provide extra services that don’t cost me a lot but will mean a lot to my customers.
  11. Create a list.  Don’t forget to get those emails so you can build your email list to send out future marketing campaigns!