5 Ingenious Unique Selling Point Ideas For Your Business

unique selling point of double your business
My unique selling point is the results my clients achieve.

Without a unique selling point, you’re a commodity business, competing mostly on price.

This article shows you how to fortify your business with a powerful unique selling proposition.

That means you can charge more, sell more and build a stronger winning business.

1. Why Bother with a Unique Selling Point?

Your USP gives you an edge. 

A good USP helps you to charge a premium price – people will pay more because you’re special.

A hard-to-copy weapon to brandish when competitors sniff around your customers.

A reason for customers to buy from you in the first place.

And a good reason for them to stick with you and turn their nose up at other offers.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? So what can your business offer that’s going to make a difference for you?

2. How To Create A Great USP For Your Business

In practice, lots of businesses get stuck trying to think of a good USP.

Sometimes the best way to come up with a good USP is to read some great examples.

A lot of articles about creating a USP quote the Dominos USP

“Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed”

The original Dominos Pizza guarantee – dropped due to issues with drivers speeding to deliver on time, allegedly.

It’s powerful. It speaks to a direct customer need…

I’m hungry… Now… I want to eat very soon.

I don’t want cold, soggy pizza that’s been sitting luke-warm for hours in the shop.

It’s a great USP, but you need a few more examples to fire your imagination and create your own unique selling point.

I wanted to find something a bit more challenging to make you think more deeply about a unique selling point for your business.

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3. USP for Highly Competitive Products

Your USP becomes even more important when you’re competing in really tough markets.

For example, imagine selling a commodity product – something that’s been around for hundreds of years; something where nobody pays much attention to the manufacturer.

Yes, cheese is the next example we’re going to explore for the development of a unique selling point. Not the type of cheese, but the specific producer.

How would you stand out if you just made cheese? Crazy difficult, right?

It’s easy to get stuck on the idea that “there’s nothing I can do that’s different to my competitors”. But that’s crazy and lazy. It’s twaddle, too!

You see, people complain all the time about how difficult it is to create a USP.

They’re right. It’s not super-easy. But winning at business is not super-easy, either.

You’ve got to think a little deeper than your competition, that’s all.

In fact, for this article, we’re going to stick with the cut-throat commodity-priced world of the dairy industry. “Ouch!”, you may be thinking.

But it’s the perfect demonstration of how creative thinking around your unique selling proposition can make the most ordinary of products stand out.

what's the unique selling point of cheese?

If you sold cheese, how could make it stand out?

Why pick dairy to illustrate unique selling points? 

Simply this.  It’s a very mature market.

All businesses have to compete for the same customers, offering more or less the same product to them.

Cheddar cheese. Pasteurised milk. Salted and unsalted butter. Not very exciting or interesting, is it?

And in the most part, they have to compete on price alone. Apart from those few enterprising souls who – you guessed it – differentiated their product with an effective unique selling point.

So if it’s possible to come up with a USP for one of these, surely there’s hope for your business, too?

Because I’m pretty sure that your business is at least as exciting as a bottle of milk…

So how on earth do you create a decent unique selling point if that’s what you sell?

The idea here isn’t to turn you into a cheesemaker (even though “blessed are the cheesemakers!” according to Monty Python’s Life Of Brian),  but to inspire you to stand out from the crowd in your line of business.

4. Put The Customer First

The secret to a great USP is to consider things from your customer’s point of view.  Let’s take a look at how the not-so-boring-after-all dairy industry has done it. 

After all, if they were able to create a unique selling point, then so can you.

There can be few more challenging businesses to be in than milk production.  The supermarkets have you by the throat and buy from you at pretty much cost price.  You only make something because of the huge volumes you sell.  What to do?

Well, it turns out there’s at least a couple of things – but you’ll notice that other people have copied them…

  • Flavoured milk and milkshakes
  • Milk with the lactic acid taken out for people who are intolerant
  • Filtering the milk to take out the microbes that cause it to go off quickly.

The secret is to innovate your service or product so that you have something that satisfies one of your customers’ unmet needs.

So when Cravendale innovated the production process for filtering milk, it gave them access to people prepared to pay more for milk that lasts longer.

My family became instant fans because the milk no longer went sour so quickly.

There was a real benefit – we could buy more at a time and have confidence that our tea would taste great all week!

It’s a brilliant unique selling point for such an ordinary product.

If you watch the video, you’ll see they use the idea of the filtered milk being purer.

I don’t know about you, but if I can get “pure”, that suggests that what I was drinking before wasn’t so good after all. 

That idea sticks in your mind after enough repetition and gradually starts to become the normal milk you buy.

Of course, your unique selling point won’t appeal to everybody, but if enough people have the same unmet need, you’re onto a winner.

But what’s really exciting is that with a strong unique selling point, your price is no longer directly compared to ordinary milk, the commodity stuff. 

You’ve carved out a whole new niche within the vast market of “pure milk”.

In the Cravendale ad, they make the point about their differentiation – on the fridge door, they tell you it’s filtered so it lasts longer. 

And they’re all fighting for the last glass.  How many times do we throw away the last glass of milk because it’s going off?

Clever, witty, engaging.  And yes, perhaps a little irritating.  But they’re selling a lot of filtered milk now, to an audience that had never seen it just a few years ago.

5. A Process To Make Your USP

What you’ll have seen from the milk example above – there are more examples to come – is that the unique selling point is a real point of difference in what you sell or how you work.

This is important. Really important.

You can’t just blow hot air and tell people that it’s special. Well, you can, but you’ll soon be found out and in the TripAdvisor world, your business would probably suffer as a result.

So the process to get a decent USP starts with understanding the customer better.

What do they want?

What do they care most about?

What keeps them awake at night?

Your USP needs to solve a problem or satisfy a need that’s currently not getting met.

Like Cravendale solved the problem of milk going off too soon.

Once you’ve nailed the unmet need or problem, you need to solve it for them.

That doesn’t mean it should be hugely expensive to solve – you don’t need to build a milk-filtering plant!

You just need to find a way to give the customer what she wants.

You can describe marketing that works well as being like having a new customer machine. I have written a helpful guide that explains how you can build one. It explains how you can avoid wasting money on markeing that doesn’t work, and squeeze every penny out of your advertising spend. You can download it by clicking here.

6. More Examples of Unique Selling Points

Now let’s take a look across the rest of the dairy industry to more great unique selling point examples.

Anchor Butter differentiated themselves by claiming free-range credentials.

Whoever heard of free-range cows?

I haven’t – never thought of cows being anything but free-range, wandering in the fields eating grass.  But Anchor brilliantly captured the eco-mood and transferred the free-range idea from chickens…

7. Use a Guarantee as a USP

Interestingly, a search on Google for other butter advertising shows that Country Life gave a money-back guarantee that their butter tastes best a few years ago.

Can’t find a video on it, but apparently they printed 5 million packs with the offer on it.  The idea is that you’ll try the butter out because if you don’t like it, you can get your money back.

What’s the chance of you not liking a quality pat of butter?  Pretty low-risk strategy, it seems to me.

8. Blessed Are The Cheesemakers – For They Have A USP…

Going back to the blessed cheesemakers, how do you make an ordinary cheese into something special?

The packaging does it very nicely for Mini Babybel, who put a twist in their adverts by showing tiny cheesemakers putting it together…

As you start to get into the differentiation groove, you’ll find lots of interesting options.

Cheesetrings are the modern replacement for Dairylee cheese triangles, it seems to me, becoming one of the defacto kids’ choices for their lunchbox.

It’s weird stuff – cheese that separates out into stringy lengths rather than being a solid chunk. But the kids love it. It’s a great usp that came from developing something a little bit different.

9. The 5 Types of USP

You may be wondering just how you can use these rather cheesy examples in your own business…

The trick is to come up with something of your own.

So many people in small business tell me they can’t. 

But you can. Once you decide to give it the attention it deserves.

There are a host of ways you can be different in business – including these five…

  1. Product (filtering the milk)
  2. Packaging (little wax jackets on your cheese)
  3. Positioning (“The Free-Range Butter Company”)
  4. Guarantees (Best tasting butter or your money back)
  5. Service (the good ol’ milkman)

You can describe marketing that works well as being like having a new customer machine. I have written a helpful guide that explains how you can build one. It explains how you can avoid wasting money on markeing that doesn’t work, and squeeze every penny out of your advertising spend. You can download it by clicking here.

Want more inspiration on ways to differentiate your products and services? Take a look at The Double Your Business Marketing Plan

I also recommend Purple Cow by Seth Godin and Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles.  Both are available from Amazon for around £5 each and are inspirational.

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Lee Duncan

Lee Duncan is the author of "Double Your Business: How to Break Through The Barriers to Higher Growth, Turnover and Profit", from Financial Times Publishing. He teaches the owners of small to medium businesses how to make more profit and enjoy more free time.

4 Comments

  1. Paul Simister on August 10th, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Interesting Lee. I like the example of differentiating milk and cheese.

    One of my all time favourite businesses I ever did any work with was Birmingham Dairies about 25 years ago. I was sent in to do a profitability study and found it fascinating as they went to market through so many different channels. Because skimmed milk was so popular, they started a small chain of bakery shops to use up the excess cream in their cakes.

    I believe all businesses have some ability to differentiate themselves. Sometimes it happens by accident. I go to my newsagents because it is the nearest and fits in with walking my dog. I used to buy petrol from one service station because they had a very pretty woman as cashier.

    Other times differentiation happens deliberately but that means you have to make some tough decisions about what you will do and what you won’t.

    Classic examples of USPs are Dominos Pizza and Fedex and both use the strong appeal of guaranteed fast delivery. It’s easy to promise but harder to do and that’s why your Unique Selling Point has to move from a marketing promise to a business promise backed up by the right systems and processes.



  2. Lee on August 10th, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Paul,

    That dairy sounds interesting – never thought about what they do with surplus cream when they’re making skimmed milk. Reminded me of the wood mill that sells waste chippings and sawdust to pet shops for use in rodent cages.

    The speedy delivery angle worked so well for Fedex and Dominos because it was a key issue for customers. Having said that, Dominos dropped it in ’92 because of accidents and running red lights. Apparently their delivery drivers got too competitive against the clock as a matter of pride. They still deliver very fast though – those systems they developed for mean they can fly food out of the door.

    I always like to focus the USP at something that’s very important in the buying cycle to the customer. If you can definitely do something that your competitors can’t, and it matters to your customers, you get a real edge for your unique selling point.



  3. Celeste Pianezzola on July 9th, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Your article is really interesting. I’m going back and forth about starting a line of preserves and condiments here in Ireland. In many ways its an over saturated market and I realize we need a strong USP to help us convert store owners to buyers so they can see there’s a gab in the market for our products, and we need a USP that hooks customers so they are buy ours over the far cheaper store brand offerings.
    We always saw ourselves as curators of crazy cheese and condiment combinations, creating condiments that specifically pair with cheeses, but now I see that really just covers the idea of positioning and there are more ways I can angle our products.
    Thank you.



  4. Lee Duncan on July 9th, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    Hi Celeste and thanks for your comments. Figuring out a way to enter a busy market is especially tricky. Great that you found this article helpful, let me know how you get on.



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