With over 1 billion websites on the Internet, standing out as an online business has become even more challenging than before with numerous competitors cropping up regularly.
What Is A Unique Proposition, What Is It Not?
Before I elaborate more on the templates, let us first clarify what a USP is and what it is not.
A unique selling proposition (USP) is the part of the brand messaging aka brand strategy or brand promise that has the following 3 key aspects:
“Relevant: Explains how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation.
Quantified Value: Delivers specific benefits.
Differentiation: Tells the ideal customer why they should buy from you and not from the competition.“ — Peep Laja, CX Optimization Agency
On the other hand, the USP IS NOT:
1 A statement that can be easily copied and applied.
For example, the terms used in e-commerce, “24/7 customer service,” “free shipping,” “next-day shipping,” “No long-term contract, cancel any time,” or “30 days return policy,” used to work in the past as part of brand positioning. These days they are used as what Peep Laja calls “boosters or small value-adds”. These are additional brand offers that work well if your competitors do not have the same.
2 It is not the slogan.
The statements below, although catchy, do not convey the 3 key characteristics mentioned above.
MacDonald’s: “I’m lovin’ it.”
Nike: “Just do it.”
Skittles: “Taste the rainbow.”A statement that changes regularly or changes at every marketing opportunity. It should be a statement that is consistent across all marketing channels.
3 A statement that changes regularly or changes at every marketing opportunity. It should be a statement that is consistent across all marketing channels.
5 Proven Proposition Templates
Writing a USP requires the use of specific approaches and methodologies to help your brand grow in the minds of your existing and potential customers.
Here, we compiled 5 proven templates with a few examples. However, please be aware that these templates, although effective, will only benefit your company if you have done the work in identifying your target market or ideal customers.
1 – Value Positioning Statement (Geoffrey Moore)
Geoffrey Moore, a technology consultant and author, introduced the value positioning statement in his classic marketing book, Crossing the Chasm.
The template format has two versions. You can either mention your main competition or omit it entirely as you can see in the examples of Omniconvert and Inbound Rocket in the table below.
|For [target customer]||For World Wide Web users who enjoy books,||For non-technical marketers who struggle with A/B Testing,||For small and medium businesses who struggle to get qualified leads from their website|
|our [product/service name]||Amazon||Omniconvert||Inbound Rocket|
|is a [product category]||is a retail bookseller||is a Conversion Rate Optimization platform||is an easy to install WordPress plugin|
|that [statement of benefit or compelling reason to buy].||that provides instant access to over 1.1 million books.||that enables you to optimize your website and increase conversions.||that helps turn anonymous website visitors into valuable and qualified leads.|
|Unlike [primary competitive alternative]||Unlike traditional book retailers,||None||None|
|our product [statement of primary differentiation]||Amazon provides a combination of extraordinary convenience, low prices and comprehensive selection.|
2 – High-Concept Pitch (Venture Hacks)
Sequoia Capital simplifies the high concept pitch as, “Summarize the company’s business on the back of a business card.”
Hat Rabbits call it, “a super-condensed elevator pitch” whose purpose is to combine your idea against something that is already popular. Its use is prevalent in Hollywood when movie producers pitch their newest production.
[Proven industry example] for/of [new domain].
“Restaurants and more, delivered to your door.” — DoorDash
“The entrepreneurs behind the entrepreneurs.” — Sequoia Capital
“A lawyer is forced to tell the truth for 24 hours.” — Liar Liar (movie)
3 – XYZ (Steve Blank)
Steve Blank, a serial-entrepreneur and academic developed a simple but effective template that essentially answers the question: “What are you building and selling?”
|Format||Omniconvert||Duolingo||Bloom & Wild|
|We help [X]|
|We help e-commerce websites||Duolingo teaches second-language enthusiasts||We’re enabling [our customers]|
|increase their sales||how to speak a new language||to order flowers and gifts from the palm of their hand|
|through A/B testing, surveys and personalization.||by providing an app that gamifies language education.||with better product, designs and payments.|
4 – Pitchcraft (David Cowan)
In an article titled “Practicing the Art of Pitchcraft,” venture capitalist and entrepreneur David Cowan discusses his tips for establishing a value proposition.
|Format||Example #1||Example #2|
|Highlight the enormity of the problem you are tackling.|
[Intrigue the person hearing or reading the VP.]
|One person dies of melanoma every 62 minutes.||Four out of five doctors have lousy handwriting, leading to patients taking incorrect medication.|
|Tell the audience up front what your company sells.|
[Keep it short and easy to understand.]
|We offer a dermatoscope app for iPhone that enables people to easily diagnose their skin,||Using the new PrescriptionPad app,|
|Distill the differentiation down to one, easy-to-comprehend sentence.|
[Say what your product or service does, not how it does it.]
|leveraging patented pattern recognition technology||doctors can create legible prescriptions in a flash.|
|Establish credibility by sharing the pedigree of the entrepreneurs, customers, or the investors.|
[Explain why you or your company is qualified to provide the service or build the product.]
|trusted by the World Health Organization.||Jointly developed by handwriting experts and Doctors Without Penmanship|
5 – Jobs-to-be-done (Clayton Christensen)
The Jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) also known as “the theory of consumer action” is a framework for analyzing what motivates customers to adopt a new product or service that was developed by Harvard Business School Professor, Clayton Christensen.
Christensen proposed that brands should ask: What “job” would consumers want to “hire” a product to do?
He believed that when companies understand the “job” that customers are “hiring” a product or service for, brands will be able to develop and/or promote products that are more tailor-fit to what customers want done.
|Action verb||Access||Listen to||Providing a|
|Object of action||your financial life||music||secure way to|
|Contextual identifier||in one powerful app.||while jogging.||make online payments.|