Unique Selling Proposition

February 17, 2022

How to Define your Unique Selling Proposition

Written by Karli Stone

Did you know that 1 in 5 young businesses fail because they can’t outpace their competitors?

It may be due to lack of funding, faulty infrastructure, or poor hiring, but one thing is for sure: the target customers of failed businesses never saw the value in choosing them over their competitors.

In a world of 8 billion people and 214 million businesses, it can be hard to find and communicate a unique value. But, worry not! Every organization has one.

In this article, we’ll demonstrate what makes an effective unique selling proposition and give you some great examples from successful businesses.

Keep reading to learn how to define your unique selling proposition and use it to your competitive advantage.


What is a unique selling proposition? Why is it important?

What is your USP?

A unique selling proposition (USP) is a statement that clearly and succinctly outlines how your business, product, or service is better than your competition. It highlights the specific benefit that makes your business stand out when compared to other options in the market.

Ultimately, your unique selling proposition – also referred to as a unique selling point – should answer a potential buyer’s most immediate question:

“What makes you different from the competition?”

A strong USP is also:

  • Focused on what your customers value. The best USPs are heavily informed by a company’s buyer personas.
  • Focused on the product’s benefits. A selling proposition shouldn’t be a basic description of the product, it should paint a picture of a customer’s improved reality after the purchase.
  • Specific. The more specific your unique selling proposition is, the more your company can emphasize its unique value.
  • Not a marketing offer. Free shipping, 24/7 customer service, discounts and deals, return policies, are all convincing offers, but they are not especially unique. Competitors can match or copy them with ease. Marketing offers don’t belong in effective USPs.

A USP is important because it highlights key differentiators for your prospective customers. Ultimately, it communicates to them why they should buy from you.

But, they are also important internally.

For salespeople, unique selling propositions can help communicate value in a brief sentence of two. Rambling on about your product’s features and benefits, company promises, and comparative advantages can waste precious time and lose the attention of valuable prospects. A refined USP can be utilized in sales conversations, cold emails, cold calls, negotiations, presentations, and anywhere that sales people are trying to establish a competitive advantage.

USPs are also intensely valuable for marketers. Not only are selling points used in all forms of marketing messaging (i.g. blogs, website pages, social posts, branding, articles), they help boost efficiency. With a fully hashed-out USP, marketers will have no hesitation in articulating their company’s strengths to target audiences.

To top it off, research shows that when sales and marketing teams are aligned, companies become 67% better at closing deals. 

And you can be sure USPs will support that alignment and keep marketing and sales teams focused on a central message and vision.

Unique selling proposition vs. value proposition

Before we go any further, let’s address a few common misconceptions.

Unique selling propositions are different from value propositions.

A value proposition describes what your company is offering, who they are offering it to, and how it solves your customer’s problem. It’s a longer statement that expresses tangible results.

Value propositions often follow a framework like this:

“We sell [your product or service] to [your customer] to solve [their problem]. We solve this problem by [your solution with the big differentiators].”

On the other hand, a unique selling proposition focuses on brand differentiation. 

It explains how your product or service uniquely solves a buyer’s needs. USPs are shorter, punchier statements that float between landing pages, offers, and promotions.

But, they also shouldn’t be mistaken for a slogan…

Slogans are indeed memorable and catchy, but they’re vague: “Just Do it”, “I’m Loving It”, “They’re GRREATT”, “Got Milk?”.

Unique selling propositions need to carry much more value than this.

Tips for defining your unique selling proposition

Right now you might be thinking, “Ok, ok, I understand what a USP is, but how do I go about creating one for my business?”

Look no further!

Here are the 5 steps for defining your unique selling proposition:

1. Describe your target audience

All too often, businesses jump into promoting their products without any understanding of their target audience. Creating a great USP begins by identifying who you are targeting and why.

Consider the following:

  • What do you know about your target audience?
  • Why do they buy products from within your market?
  • What needs do those items meet for your target customer?

Using an expansive B2B data intelligence platform like Apollo can help you hone in on your buyer personas and uncover the intent data that you need to build the foundation for your USP.

Just ask Optimove! 

Optimove helps marketers drive customer-led journeys powered by predictive customer analytics, AI optimization technologies, and a multi-channel campaign orchestration engine. 

When the organization was having trouble understanding their target audience in the mid-market, Apollo’s B2B database, along with advanced filtering and persona recommendations, helped them find more companies to target and refine their understanding of their highest-value ICP.

Optimove saw immediate results in their campaign, most notably, a 6x increase in impressions!

You want your USP to resonate with your most valuable prospective customers. 

That starts and ends with using a reliable database that will guide you through accurately defining your selling point.

2. Brainstorm your distinctive benefits versus the competition

Next, you need to identify your company’s unique benefits.

What sets you apart?

You probably already have a good idea of what it is, but it can be helpful to make a list of your competitors and do some additional market research. Try to uncover what needs your competitors are meeting, what needs they aren’t meeting, and how you are doing it better.

Pinpointing the defining characteristics of your product can be difficult, especially when you see it for everything that it is and deeply believe in its positive impact.

But, buyers have short attention spans. Your USP’s unique benefits and offerings need to be short and clear.

3. Consider your promise

Research from Gallup shows that only 50% of customers actually expect a brand to deliver on what it says it will.

Successful USPs make some kind of pledge to their prospective customers… and deliver. 

While this can be implied rather than explicitly spelled out, write down the promise you make to your clients in this step. Weaving in a brand promise can be a way for consumers to hold you accountable to the standard that sets you apart.

4. Combine and rework

At this point, you probably have a solid paragraph or two of recurring ideas and thoughts. Start merging statements and rewrite them in ways that make sense.

Then, cut it down even more. Ideally, into a single, creative sentence.

Take your time and keep the most essential parts of Steps 1-3 fresh in your mind. You want your final USP to be as specific and simple as possible.

Below, we’ll show you some examples of what a great, final USP looks like.

5. Test your USP

Lastly, you need to test, test, test.

Use A/B testing to seamlessly compare different USPs against each other. With this data, you can determine which messages resonate best with your target audience. 

Using a sales intelligence tool like Apollo can help. You can track conversion goals and see which of your USPs result in higher engagement and conversions!

Don’t be afraid to make changes. The best USPs are adaptable and fluid.

Unique selling proposition examples

To get you inspired, let’s look at a few companies that have created especially successful USPs.


“We lead people to live inspired lives every day by introducing and seamlessly connecting them to soul-nurturing experiences” – ClassPass

ClassPass is an organization that partners with thousands of fitness studios, gyms, and spas across the U.S. and gives its members affordable access to a variety of in-person and virtual classes.

They have a successful USP because it not only uses punchy and appealing language (i.e. inspired, seamless, soul-nurturing), but it emphasizes their unique benefit: helping people try new fitness experiences with ease.


“We are in business to improve lives.” – TOMS

Short, snappy, and to the point.

TOMS is a shoe company that gives its buyers the option to pick and support a specific social issue they would like to stand for. Since 2006, they’ve given shoes, safe water, and vision to more than 94 million people.

This is a perfect USP for a company with such a unique value.

Away Travel

“Our pieces aren’t ‘smart’, they’re thoughtful, with features that solve real travel problems and premium materials chosen to be resilient and beautiful” – Away Travel

Away offers luggage and carry-ons products for the modern traveler, and their USP is clearly driven by a thoughtful marketing strategy.

It never mentions a specific competitor, but it distinguishes Away as the reliable, no-frill luggage choice compared to the other options in the market. And isn’t that what everyone wants out of their luggage?


“At SheaMoisture, we invest proceeds from every purchase into the community. When you purchase SheaMoisture, you are investing in women globally. Our educational and entrepreneurial programs are designed to create an include and thriving society” – SheaMoisture

This one is a bit lengthy, but it communicates a lot of value from a company that is committed to community equity and justice.

Any potential buyer who hears or reads this will know exactly what sets SheaMoisture apart from other hair and body care brands.

Unique selling points make your product come alive and it’s an important part of any business model.

When you develop a fully flushed-out USP it can be used in and through your website, marketing campaigns, email templates, sales pitches, marketing messaging, cold calling, and so much more.

If you’ve made it this far in the guide, you’re ready to put your pen to paper!

For more helpful sales and marketing tips, don’t forget to follow Apollo on LinkedIn and Twitter

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Karli Stone headshot Karli Stone