What is a unique value proposition?
Unique Value Propositions (UVP), also known as Unique Sales Proposition (USP) is a simple, straight-forward statement that conveys the problem you're solving, the benefits of your company/brand and what differentiates you from the competition.
It's the existential question of the business world. At some point, most of us have pondered this on a personal level: Who am I? What’s my purpose? What do I excel in? If you're a business owner, you should be asking similar questions of your business as well. What benefits does your service or product provide? What problems does it solve? And why should people choose you over the competitors?
The sum of these answers equals a defining statement about your company, your unique value proposition. A value proposition not only informs customers but also serves as a driving agent for the direction of your company.
“BUT!” you say. “I don't need a unique value proposition. My product is amazing and it sells itself!”
Yes, your product or service probably is amazing. Maybe your current customers already know you’re amazing, but are you satisfied with your current customer base or do you want to grow? On the internet, your written content has about 5 seconds to grab someone's attention and tell them your story. A unique value proposition can help you do just that. Plus, as you scale, it can act as a powerful guiding force to keep your business in alignment.
What is unique value proposition?
In general there are three types of unique value propositions. Here are some examples of UVPs taken from the beauty industry:
Think of Ulta with their emphasis on breadth, value and convenience
Think of Laura Geller with their emphasis on personal training and interaction
Think of AHAVA with their skincare lab and development and innovation
Most businesses will have a combination of these (you can’t decide you’re an innovation business and neglect operations!). However one will be the central strength.
Crafting a good unique value proposition
A good unique value proposition answers three questions:
What does my company or product do?
Use simple, straightforward language. It can be easy to get jargony here so be careful. How do you explain your business to family or acquaintances who are outside your niche? If you are B2B, you might be able to get away with a bit more in-speak, but even then you are likely talking to someone who wants to hire you because they want you to be the specialist.
What problem(s) do we solve?
The answer may seem obvious. If you sell skincare, then obviously you help people maintain healthy skin. Maybe, though, you sell skincare specializing in anti-aging products for people with sensitive skin. You might lose some of your audience, but are suddenly highly relevant for your target market.
What makes you different?
Chances are good that you have at least one competitor doing the exact same thing you do. (In fact, not having any competitors is usually a bad sign.) What sets you apart? Focus on how you do it differently or better from everyone else. Do you focus on a specific target demographic? A geographical region? A specific industry?
Some examples of Unique Value Propositions
“We are the largest beauty retailer that provides one-stop shopping for prestige, mass and salon products and salon services in the United States. We focus on providing affordable indulgence to our guests by combining unmatched product breadth, value and convenience with the distinctive environment and experience of a specialty retailer.”
What they do: beauty retailer
What problem do they solve: providing affordable indulgences
How do they do it differently: unmatched product breadth, value and convenience with a distinctive environment
Laura Geller’s UVP:
“Laura Geller Beauty is a leading prestige color cosmetics brand developed by professional makeup artist, Laura Geller. The Company is renowned as the pioneer of the "baked" category of makeup – cult-favorite, multi-tasking powders that deliver remarkably vibrant color – and for its easy-to-use, multi-tasking products intended to simplify and improve women's makeup routines.”
What they do: color cosmetics
What problem do they solve: simplify and improve women's makeup routines
How do they do it differently: pioneer of the "baked" category of makeup
“AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories was founded to study the powerful, rejuvenating minerals found in the Dead Sea. Since then AHAVA has grown to become the definitive Dead Sea mineral beauty expert.
Start your AHAVA journey and learn more about our rich history and and groundbreaking skincare innovations.”
What they do: skincare innovations
What problem do they solve: study the powerful, rejuvenating minerals found in the Dead Sea
How they do it differently: the definitive Dead Sea mineral beauty expert
What a UVP Is Not
A unique value proposition needs to answer all these questions in a sentence or short paragraph. This isn't a longer mission statement or a company biography. It's a snapshot of who you are and why your target audience should choose you.
Do not confuse a unique value proposition with a tag line either. A tag line is usually a one-sentence expression that accompanies your business name or logo. They are usually more philosophical and descriptive, but not informative. For instance, you probably know this tagline: “Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's Maybelline.” Catchy? Yes. It doesn't tell us much about what it is and why we should buy it, though.
A unique value proposition is also not a specific product offer or promotion. Those are temporary measures to drive business, while a value proposition focuses on building long-term customer relationships.
Sharing your unique value proposition
Once you have your UVP written, you’ll find plenty of opportunites to share it. Whether on presentations, proposals, decks, social media, or your website, it’s a great way to quickly orient people to your business and jump-start your conversation.
An simple way to format your value proposition is:
Headline. This should answer the question “what does my company do?” Grab the reader's attention. Let them know immediately what it is your company provides.
Short paragraph. 2-3 sentences that describe what problem you solve and how you're set apart from everyone else.
Crafting a good unique value proposition can take time, thought, and creativity. Not sure where to start? Download our workbook pages to help guide your process.