What is a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) & Why It Will Bring You More Clients (Part 1)

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Hi guys, I’m Lou, co-founder of Reliable PSD, and today I’m going to share with you part 1 of a 2 video series on what is a USP, aka a unique selling proposition, and why it’s so crucial for getting more new clients.


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Note: The text found in this post is the transcript of the video above.

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Many years ago, the car rental company Avis desperately needed a new ad campaign. Hertz, who were much bigger, were crushing them, and they needed to do something to stand out.

So how do you take a smaller company that’s not as popular and make it appeal to customers more than a bigger company that’s really popular?

Well, the route they took was to use their seeming weakness as an advantage. The main concept of the campaign they came up with was: “When you’re only number 2, you try harder. Or else.”

That became their USP, the fact that they’re smaller, which means they can give more attentive service. So, Hertz is big, they have no need or motivation to go the extra mile for you. We’re small, it’s 100% imperative for us to do absolutely everything in our power to make you happy.

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That’s essentially what a USP is – it’s your unique angle or hook that gives customers a reason to choose you over someone else. Let’s go over some more examples to help inspire you to figure out yours.

Avis used contrast to separate themselves. Another type of USP is a promise of a benefit. So for example, Dominos pizza rose to fame by promising “we’ll deliver in 30 minutes or it’s free”.

Or at our own web development company, Reliable, our USP is that we’re a coding company created by designers, for designers, so we have unique insight into what designers need when they outsource code that is really hard to find anywhere else.

But a USP doesn’t have to be something quantitative like getting your pizza in 30 mins, and it doesn’t even have to be a benefit like someone who understand you better.

If you look at a company like e-surance – they’re just another insurance marketplace just like all the others. Logistically there’s really no difference there. But through their design and interface they make the experience a lot lighter and funner than any other insurance company. So your USP can even be the personality that you bring to your interactions.

Even cities have USPs. New York city is “I’m gonna make something of myself.” Los Angeles is “I’m gonna be a star.” Miami is “I’m gonna party on the beach.” Portland is “Environmentally conscious hipster haven”.

So how does this help you get more clients?

Think of some of your favorite businesses. What is it that keeps you coming back to your favorite coffee shop, or grocery store, or online service, or even author, or specific product that you love? What is it about those things that trumps all the other options and has your loyalty?

That thing that keeps you coming back, THAT is their USP. That is what they do better than anyone else and no one can give you but them.

In the same way it made you a customer of theirs, your USP will grow your customer base too.

This is such an amazing question to spend time on because if you can figure it out for your business, in a lot of ways you’re no longer competing with anyone. You put yourself in a whole new category where you’re the only one in it because nobody else can do this one thing that you are doing. So say you’re a designer and you bid on a branding project and someone’s comparing you to 4 other designers, if you communicated your USP well, it’s no longer an apples to apples comparison. It’s 3 designers offering a logo, and you offering YOUR USP.

And when you’re really able to communicate the value of your USP to your customers or prospects, they value you more, so you can charge more, you get more confident because you know that there’s no one else out there who can do what you do. And because of this the whole relationship you have with your clients takes on a different form, because you’re fulfilling a need for them that no one else can.

So I hope this gets you guys thinking in the direction of what YOUR USP is, and in the second part of this video, I’m going to share with you some really cool exercises you can use to narrow in on it and really figure it out.

As always I’d love to hear any questions or comments from you guys below, and I’ll see you in part two!

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About Lou Levit

Lou (Louisa) Levit is the co-founder of creative agency Unexpected Ways, as well as the co-founder of Reliable PSD: a web development partner for freelancers, agencies, and companies in HTML and Wordpress coding. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her lovely husband and biz partner, David Tendrich.

More about Lou’s business: Reliable PSD is what happened when a group of designers got fed up with the available web development and design to code solutions out there…and created their own. Check them out, and see why Hundreds of agencies & freelancers love having Reliable as their partner for HTML & Wordpress coding.

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  1. Hi, Lou!

    What an important subject! Without a strong USP, it’s nearly impossible to generate buzz. Marketing will always be hard.

    A strong USP tips the scale in your favor, even when coming up against creative professionals in your particular niche. It’s the key reason why a new client picks you instead of the next designer. A strong USP is a big hairy promise. It should make you gulp. If it doesn’t, it’s likely not bold enough. It cannot be trivial. To win you deals, it must differentiate you in a way that is very important to your ideal client. It can be a unique guarantee, a unique combination of services, or an outstanding service level. On the page linked in my name above, I’ve collected 15 types of USPs specifically for creative professionals. It also contains some real-life examples/links to fellow creative pros using USPs.

    • Hey Tomas!

      Thanks so much for your comment! I totally agree – moving your business forward is very hard without a USP. It’s all about connecting your biggest strength with their biggest need!

      Thanks for sharing your article, too. I’ll definitely check it out :-).

      Have a great day,
      Lou

  2. Thank you for this article! As a designer just starting out in business, this is a tip that would really help me increase my chances of landing clients.

    • Hey Matthew!

      You’re so welcome! I’m really glad this was helpful to you 🙂

      Good luck with your new venture,
      Lou

  3. I don’t think “funner” is actually a word. May want to avoid that in your USP.

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