Why what you think about USP is 100% Useless

By: admin | 10 Mar 2014

I work with a number of Universities and Colleges across the North West of England and read a LOT of business plans from start ups and early stage businesses ALL of which make the same key mistake about USP.

The mistake is a very common one and I would make a million pound bet that as you are reading this now you are making the exact same one.

The concept of USP you have is entirely and completely useless.

I know, I know, you have probably read in books and had men in suits tell you that USP means “Unique Selling Proposition“.

And technically, historically, I suppose you are correct…technically

But lets look closer at the “U” in USP….traditionally this has stood for “Unique”

My question is a simple one…

Do you really think your business is unique? Really? It is one of a kind? The only thing like it in the universe?

I would put a second million pound bet on the fact that it isnt.

This week alone, I have had four almost identical student enterprises tell me that their USP was “Social Media” or “Video for Web”


In this post modern world in which we live, is anything actually, genuinely unique?


And anyway, who says unique is desirable?

Horse manure flavoured cakes are unique…but would you actually buy one?

The Solution

I propose we change the “U” in USP from unique selling point to useful selling proposition.

This way we can keep our eye on:

  • Our most effective message about what we do.
  • What our customers want from our products and services
  • How we differentiate ourselves from our competition
  • How we can create value for our customers

By ensuring our proposition is useful rather than unique we can make sure that we are speaking the same language as our customers and are solving problems for them, rather than spinning a novel story.

And the more useful we are to our customers, the more likely they are to come back.

Thank you for reading, I would love to hear your thoughts on this…especially if your business is unique!