What Is So Special About Your Business? How To Develop A Strong USP

What is so special about your business? No this isn’t a trick question, what is it?  When we sit down with a potential client we usually start the conversation with  “What is so special about your business?”  It’s at this point that the arms get crossed and the client sits back in their chair…deep thought.

We ask this question not to stump or embarrass anyone but to discover a businesses Unique Selling Proposition or USP.  USP is a term invented in the 1940′s by Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company.  Wikipedia: “Rosser Reeves was a hugely successful American advertising executive and pioneer of television advertising. He believed the purpose of advertising is to sell”.  It was initially used for products but works for a service as well.  “Reeves believed

  1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.”
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product.
  • Head & Shoulders: “You get rid of dandruff”
  • Olay: “You get younger-looking skin”
  • PRO-found Marketing: “You get found on the Internet” (I couldn’t help it) :-)


  • Dominoes Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 390 minutes or less- Or it’s FREE
  • FedEX: “When your package absolutely, positively, has to get there overnight”
  • M&M’s: Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”

So many businesses lose a client because they sell expectations.  I expect my car to get me to work. Is that why I bought it? NO. I bought it because of its performance, safety record, amenities, Brand.  These are benefits.   A strong USP should sell BENEFITS, not EXPECTATIONS.  You want my business, and the thousands, maybe even millions of consumers just like me?  Tell me how you will make my life DRAMATICALLY better by working with you/your company/your product instead of someone else.

Once you develop your USP, tell the world! Put it everywhere.  Email, website, social media channels, any consumer facing correspondence.  You will be surprised how developing a clear, concise and precise Unique Selling Proposition will differentiate you in your market/industry.

Caution: It’s actually counter-productive and self destructive to adopt and use a USP if you cannot fulfill the promise(s) you make.

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