What is USP in Marketing? How to Identify your Unique Selling Proposition


Every business needs to have a USP, or unique selling proposition. This is what sets you apart from the competition, what encourages people to buy from you instead of another retailer, and what ensures that you have a business model and a product (or service) that is needed within its specific niche or market today. Some companies have straightforward USPs. Others have to search a little harder to find out what sets them apart. 

If you’re just building a business marketing strategy and you need to figure out what you have that’s unique to offer audiences, it’s time to do some research. First, we’ll talk about what a USP is and what it can be, and then we’ll discuss how to determine your own and some best practices for sharing that unique angle with your audience(s). 

A little more information on USPs… 

The idea of USPs was introduced back in the 1940s and was originally considered the “thing” that gives companies a little more oomph in their marketing campaigns and gets customers to notice. This also increases the likelihood that they’ll engage with the business. This is the distinguishing factor that sets you apart from the rest. It’s more than just your friendly service or your commitment to excellence—these days, all businesses offer promises like these. 

Your USP needs to be the one thing that makes your audience remember you, come to you for what they need, and even tell their friends and family so that you can continue to grow your audience. Word-of-mouth marketing is still a big part of any campaign, and even bigger now that the Internet makes it so easy for people to talk, exchange ideas and information, and give firsthand accounts of their experiences with various companies and organizations. 

Your USP needs to be just that—unique. Here’s how to make sure that comes through. 

Identify your audience and competitors 

Understanding and defining your target audience is a huge part of figuring out your USP, in addition to setting up marketing campaigns in general. Too often, businesses get caught up in promoting their company or product without actually knowing their audience. That kind of open-ended marketing will not be effective. You need to know your customers and identify them based on things like:

  • Demographics (age, gender, income, location, etc.)
  • Needs/wants
  • Expectations of companies 
  • Problem/solution they desire 

Once you know who your audience is, you then need to figure out what competitors also have the same audience. Market research goes a long way in helping you build the most success in your campaigns. Discover what’s out there already and what other businesses are doing. This will not only help you know what you’re up against, but it will also give you the chance to identify different unique angles that you can take to reach your audience. 

Brainstorm like a consumer 

Instead of taking the approach to your USP from the business owner/leader perspective, you need to brainstorm in ways that will get the attention of the consumer. You need more than just “we’re better than the rest,” too. Take the time to think about what consumers would appreciate that can set you apart and help you stand out. Gather as many ideas as you can and work with your team to figure out which ones are going to be most effective. 

It's a unique selling proposition—that means it needs to stand out. 

Know your weak spots

No one can figure out their good qualities without knowing where they have a weakness. Plus, this will help you find areas to improve and allow you to learn more about your own capabilities, as well as those of your product or service. As much as you need to know your strengths and what sets you apart from the rest, you also need to know what aspects of your business are not as good as the competition. This will help you either improve things or know your limits so that you can focus on your strengths. 

Ask around 

There’s no harm in asking for help if you’re not sure about your USP. Your audience and even your peers might have some insight that you haven’t thought about that can help you find your niche in the market. You aren’t alone in this journey. A lot of the time, if you start looking at your audience and talking to people about what they like in your business, it will give you the chance to find a USP you might not even have known about. 

You don’t have to go pandering for information from every single person you encounter, but pay attention to what people have to say in reviews and reasons they work with your company. That, in many instances, will help you better define your USP. 

Choose your words carefully

Perhaps the most important part of your USP is making sure that it’s translated correctly. You want to use short phrases and straightforward information. Be concise, clear, and direct. Don’t use industry jargon or big words that might not translate to the consumer. A USP is crucial to your success, but it should be short, sweet, and to the point to make the biggest impact. 

While you’re defining your business, who’s fielding the leads?

Once you have a new, proper USP in place, you’ll likely see an influx of new leads. You’ll need to have systems in place to manage those leads, including a 24/7 answering service like that offered by the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai. When you partner with us, we can also provide solutions for lead intake, scheduling, and other admin needs. 

Plus, it all comes with a custom strategy to manage the details and we’ll even assist with outreach campaigns if you need help marketing in the first place. There’s nothing we can’t do to help your business leverage its USP and get the most out of marketing.

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do, or reach out to us at hello@smith.ai with your questions.


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Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at Smith.ai. She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

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