How to Develop a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

A USP is a unique selling proposition, first popularized in 1961 by advertising legend Rosser Reeves in his book, "Reality In Advertising." Your USP is your proprietary competitive edge stated in clear, concise terms. Every business must have one to succeed. But most businesses don't. Not surprisingly, most businesses fail. Your USP needs three traits to be effective:

1. It should make a specific promise to customers. Example: "Buy this product and you will get this clear benefit."

2. It should be one your competitors cannot or will not match. It must be unique. Your customers should not be able to get the benefit anywhere else.

3. It should be so strong that it can create a crowd of eager buyers. Ideally, only a lunatic would refuse to buy from you.

Reeves goes on to say that 80% of all ads do not have a USP. If you look through your local paper or Yellow Pages, I think you'll find this percentage may be even higher. Keep your ideal prospect in mind when creating your USP. There's a big difference between affluent customers and bargain hunters who look only at price. Which group do you want buying from you?

To discover your USP, see your business with fresh eyes. Assume prospective buyers know nothing about what you do.. Focus on benefits, numbers, percentages and tangible items. Focus on all that you go through to maintain excellence. The reality is your USP is right under your nose. All you have to do is take the time to look around your business and find it. Your USP can revolve around price, value, design, service, selection, speed, experience, performance, reliability, technology, innovativeness, uniqueness, newness, luxury, time in business, clients, number of customers, almost anything that people desire and believe.

Good USPs to use as inspirations for yourself include: FedEx -- "Absolutely, positively overnight" Avis -- "We're only number two so we try harder." L'Oreal -- "The most expensive hair color in the world." Kellogg's Raisin Bran -- "Two scoops of raisins in every box scoop." 7-Up -- "The Uncola"

By Jay Conrad Levinson, founder, Guerrilla Marketing


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