Value Proposition vs Unique Selling Point

by TedV

Which Relevance Selling Tool Will Work Best for You: The Value Proposition or the Unique Selling Point?


Value Proposition vs Unique Selling Point ImageThe second hardest thing about Relevance Marketing is developing your framework to consistently express your Relevance Points in a clear manner.

(The hardest thing about relevance marketing is to figure out what it is and how it applies to your sales and marketing.)

The Value Proposition and the Unique Selling Point are probably the two most famous tools used to concisely explain why a prospect should buy, using terms relevant to the prospect. As I refer to them above you use these tools as the “framework to consistently express your Relevance Points in a clear manner.”

Let’s define these two sales concepts:

A Value Proposition is a definitive expression or statement of the concrete outcome of using your products and/or services.*

A Unique Selling Point (USP) is that aspect that differentiates a product or service from all other similar products or services.** The “uniqueness” is in some way singular, exclusive, one-of-a-kind.

(In footnotes below you’ll find the origins of the two concepts.)

If your product/service truly does have a unique, “no-one-else-has-it” capability that is a defining reason to buy from you regardless of price, then jump down to the section below on the USP. If you aren’t that lucky then keep reading into the next section.

The Value Proposition – Can You Make It Strong Enough?

In my opinion Jill Konrath is the Queen of the Value Proposition. I highly recommend her blog, books, and courses. *Jill states, “A Value Proposition is a clear statement of the tangible results a customer gets from your products or services.”

A Value Proposition should “shock awake” the prospects who might have been perfectly happy with their status quo products or services moments before. At the very least the prospect should begin to really pay attention to you after you give a well reasoned value proposition.

In the article linked above Konrath gives 3 primary ways or elements to develop value propositions that customers can relate to.

1) Testimony – A well phrases testimony in the words of a satisfied client can really capture attention. However, left on their own satisfied customers usually don’t express the aspects they most appreciate about your products/services in the best way you’d like them to.

In the next article I’ll post soon I’ll go into more detail about the Value Proposition including how I develop a powerful customer testimony.

2) Statistics – These are comprised of Industry Statistics and Client Results Statistics. Industry statistics are great, but too often everyone is spouting the same details from the industry mouth piece. They can become cliche – something true but trivialized from over use. The trick is to always find fresh stats, dig down to get the data unused by your competitors and make it pertinent to the situation.

Client results statistics are the positive outcomes you helped your own clients achieve by working with you. Here is where your value – YOUR VALUE – is really embedded in the mind of the prospect.

It’s extremely important to make the statistics relevant to your prospect.

3) Language – The final major way Konrath gives to make potential clients take notice of your statements, has to do with using the language of their business. This can be a green light to many for useless verbal diarrhea. It is too common for sales and marketing to use their own product knowledge and words as business language. Your product’s features and benefits are NOT the language of your prospects’ businesses.

Business language in this case is the language used by each individual company, focusing on their specific needs, problems, goals, objectives and personalities in that company.

The Unique Selling Point (USP) – Is It Possible?

Susan L. Reid wrote a concise, well reasoned article defining the Unique Selling Point** and giving a 5 Step Process to develop your own USP. She defines the USP as “that aspect that differentiates it (a product/service) from other (products/services of) similar businesses.” Her first step of developing a USP is to “List the features and benefits that are unique about your product or service.”

I see the concept of uniqueness as the problem of the USP. Uniqueness is both (1) difficult to have and (2) tough to explain to the point of purchase preference.

Uniqueness basically means “exclusive.” You have to be the only one, or only company to have an exclusive. It usually means either a patent, or a head start, or a person.

1) A patent must be defendable, and must be on a significant capability that you can make extremely important in the eyes of your prospect. If you can say, “How would you like to do __________?” and most of your prospects respond, “I’d kill to be able to do that,” then you have a patent of significance.

2) By a head start I mean coming to market with a product or service early enough that even though you don’t have a patent, you have a proven and exciting solution to a noteworthy problem at least several years before any competitor can catch you.

3) A person can be a Unique Selling Point if you can build a “cult following” around him or her. If Warren Buffett left for a new investment company tomorrow morning what would Berkshire Hathaway’s stock price be by noon? It is still almost a weekly occurrence to see an article in business or technology magazines or on websites about whether Apple will really survive the death of Steve Jobs.


I just love the opportunity of a Unique Selling Point. You have to map the benefits and justifications to each individual company you call on, but making your case with a solid USP is a lot of fun.

However, most marketing and selling revolves around competing with those who are similar to you. Specifically crafted Value Propositions are your foot in the door, reason to stay at the table, and tool of choice for closing the deal.

In the next couple of weeks I will post two articles, one each on these two frameworks for communicating relevance in your marketing and sales messages.



The origin of the two concepts discussed here:

The Unique Selling Point (or Proposition) was posited in the early 1940′s by the legendary ad man and copywriter Rosser Reeves.

Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton created the Value Proposition during their work at Harvard.

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