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If you want make money, you need a USP !
by Lewis B. Nixon

Your USP Unique Selling Proposition is the brand image of your product or service.



Rosser Reeves, a copywriter and later head of the Ted Bates agency, developed the USP formula, which he revealed in 1961 in his famous book Reality in Advertising.

In this classic, Rosser Reeves defines "advertising" as follows: "Advertising is the art of getting a unique selling proposition into the heads of the most people at the lowest possible cost."

Effective copy always should have a USP. The Unique Selling Proposition is the brand image of your product or service, and you should always develop your USP.

Your USP must have at least two attributes:

  • It has to make a specific proposition to the consumer. Buy this... and you will get this specific benefit.
  • Your proposition has to be unique.
    You are in an ideal situation when your competitors cannot offer the same or use not the same, although their product offers the same benefit.

In today's world with so many similar products and services it requires sometimes a lot of work to find a USP. You have to compare your product with your competitors'. Always try first to find a benefit your product offers that your competitors' don't offer.
If your product doesn't offer a unique benefit, you must tell something about your product or service that has not been said by your competitors, as yet. It's not a problem if your competitors can use the same - important is that your competitors don't use the same.

Too many people use slogans as "Buy my brand", "Our product is the genuine", and so on, because they underestimate the value of a USP. Please note, people never care about you or your product as long as they don't see what's in it for them.
So please invest the time to find your USP, although it may be not easy.

Some examples:

"Give your baby something you never had as a baby. A drier bottom." (Pampers Diapers)
Every manufacturer with an equivalent product has the opportunity to say the same - but Pampers did it.

"The milk chocolate melts in your mouth - not in your hand."(M&Ms Candy)
There are many similar products - but M&M said it.

"Better gas mileage. A Civic responsibility." (Honda Civic)
Honda used this slogan to promote the Civic model. I am sure other car manufacturers could use the same slogan - but Honda did it.

Now my personal favorite, because I am not sure whether a competitor could use the same USP.
"At sixty miles an hour the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock." (Rolls-Royce)
Written by the legendary David Ogilvy.


The USP of one of my companies is, "Don't pay for our copywriting and marketing services, pay for getting results." One of my specialties is to help small business owners and medium-sized companies to sell in another country where they want sell, but still don't do business. I help companies to put their product on a new market and my company gets a percentage of the profit. The client, or better-called business partner, always can be sure that we will do our best, because we only make money when we are successful.

As freelance copywriter I use this USP: "If you want sell overseas - profit from my experience." For instance, before some time I wrote business letters, addressed to prospective business partners in another country, for a big German investment corporation. Mentality and business behavior is often different from country to country. I got the job because I know what you have to consider when you want sell in that specific country.

But now let's go back to your USP.

  • Write down all the benefits your product or service offer.
  • Compare the benefits of your product with your competition. Study carefully the marketing material, specific the headlines, of your competitors. This reading requires mostly a lot of time if you have many competitors. Don't underestimate the study of your competitors' sales material, otherwise you will not find a real unique selling proposition
  • When you think you have found your unique selling proposition, additional take into account that your USP must "sell", by which I mean that it must tell your customers what's in it for them.


2010 by Lewis B. Nixon



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