Conventional wisdom says you need to have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)– a golden nugget which is supposed to inspire and delight potential customers.

USP’s are great tools, identifying what makes your business unique in a world of competitive sameness and marketing noise. Let’s take a look at a few USP examples:

Iconic Examples:

  • Avis –- We’re #2, We Try Harder
  • Fedex – When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight
  • M&Ms – Melts in your mouth, not in your hand
  • De Beers – A Diamond Is Forever
  • GEICO – 15 minutes could save you 15%

Under the Radar Examples:

  • Nerd Fitness – Fitness options for nerds and average Joes
  • Man Crates – Unique gifts men love
  • Everlane Apparel – Exceptional Quality. Ethical Factories. Radical Transparency.
  • Saddleback Leather Bags – They’ll Fight Over It When You’re Dead
  • My Tennis Lessons – Find local personal trainers within 5 miles
  • My Roofing Pal – Get 4 different quotes in 5 minutes from the top rated local roofers
  • License to Vape – No crappy products. We test each vaping product in house, host customer reviews and remove any product with bad reviews.

If you make your business stand apart from the crowd, everything you do will be easier – gaining customers, turning customers into fans, retaining customers, making awesome ads, innovating on products & services and dare we say loving the work you do even more!

Conversely, without an effective USP those same things will become a constant struggle. Your USP can mean the difference between success and failure.

The wrong USP can alienate your ideal customer by featuring the thing they don’t care about.

Let’s look at the first USP example above: Avis – We’re #2, We Try Harder

If your ideal customer is…

A budget-focused power-traveller who regularly rents cars and knows far too well how bottom-of-the-barrel the rental car experience can be, that USP is a home run.

A prestige traveller who regularly rents cars, books business class or first class, drives a luxury vehicle of his own, and values concierge-level services across all travel touch-points, that USP falls a little flat.

Starting Points for Developing Your USP

There are 4 places you can start the journey to developing your USP:

Look at the competitive space and figure out where the gaps are.

Fever Tree Tonic water did just that by positioning their tonic water as “premium tonic water”, calling out fancy ingredients and exotic sourcing to position against mass generic brands like Schweppes. Their ideal customers were carefully choosing their spirits and they saw opportunity with mixers as well. Why mix your $80 bottle of bespoke gin with 99¢ tonic?


Look at what the market is saying about your competitors and find areas they are getting complaints about.

Look for data points such as quality, price, service, shipping, billing, consistency, technical specifications, instructions, range of colors, you get the idea.

Dollar Shave did this by looking at the pain points of men’s razors ( expensive, gimmicky, overloaded with choices and forever running out) and offered quality, inexpensive, simple-choice razors that show up at your door automatically.

Ask your current customers.

If you’re past the startup stage, you probably have customers.

Ask them (interviews, surveys, informal coffee conversations) what they think your USP is. These folks already gave you their hard earned dollars so they have something valuable to share.

Look at your customer reviews and see where you’re thrilling and where you’re not.

We had a cosmetics client that made anti-aging products for the woman’s “below the belt” area. The brand thought they were winning hearts and minds of the 50+ woman who wanted to turn back time. After talking with customers, it turned out that they were actually killing it with women in their 20’s focused on preventing aging, rather than reversing it. (Minds blown!)

Build from your Ideal Customer Avatar or as we like to call it, the Intelligent Customer Avatar.

Key wants, desires, drivers, behaviors, psychographics, demographics and geo-graphics all help to form a path to the USP that fits their needs and hits them at their core.

Fair warning: you can’t build a USP from a weak ICA. What is weak? An ICA generated from a generic checklist that has you imagining all the things the customer wants. You need a real ICA – one driven by data and insights that you can take action on or the USP will little more than a wish list.

Want Some Expert Help Getting Your USP and ICA to Make Marketing Magic?

Book yourself a free brainstorming session with us right here.