How to Pinpoint Your ‘Hook.’ Find Your Unique Selling Proposition in 6 Simple Steps

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” – Dr. Seuss

When it comes to selling a product or service, fitting in is overrated. Too often, businesses and entrepreneurs try to create something for everyone. The end result is generic, trivial, and, well, boring.

You can’t be everything to everyone.

You can’t have the best ice cream and the best ribs.

You can’t be the best organizational tool for solopreneurs and large multinational corporations.

You can’t have the best high-intensity interval classes and the best bodybuilding classes.

Sure, it can be scary to go left when everyone else is heading right, but the upside to going left is huge.

Embrace your uniqueness

Take Rick Barry. He’s an NBA Hall of Famer and one of the greatest free throw shooters of all time.

What made him so great? When at the free throw line, the former Golden State Warrior would grip the sides of the basketball, bend his knees, and then simultaneously lift both arms and hoist the ball into the air.

That’s right: Barry perfected the “granny-style” shot.

It was incredibly accurate. Barry made 3,818 of his 4,242 free throw attempts, good for a 90 career shooting percentage from the line. (For perspective, the average FT percentage in the NBA during the 2016-17 season was 76 percent.)

Barry’s technique involves less moving parts. It gives the ball a better chance to sail in a smooth, perfect arc toward the basket without elbows or wrists getting in the way.

Barry found an unorthodox — but undeniably effective — method. He’s the only player to lead the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the American Basketball Association (ABA), and the NBA in scoring for an individual season. He’s an eight-time NBA All-Star, and was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

When he finally retired from the league in 1980, he ranked first for field goal percentage.

Barry zigged left when everyone else zagged right, and his success at the line is nearly unmatched. If he had gone with the conventional free throw style like everyone else, would he have been a record-setting free throw shooter? Maybe . . . but it would have been a lot tougher for him.

And he definitely wouldn’t have been as memorable.

The same goes with creating and promoting your product. If you want to make money, you need to find your own effective “granny style.”

Marketers call this your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). It’s the element that makes your product stand out from the crowd of similar products — and it can change everything for you.

Identify your USP

Finding an effective Unique Selling Proposition (USP) can be difficult. After all, how many businesses and products are truly one-of-a-kind?

There are thousands of life coaches, personal trainers, electricians, therapists, authors, yoga instructors, digital marketers, clothing retailers, and so on. What makes yours stand out?

Quick note: Don’t be unique for the sake of being unique. Selling fur coats in a heat wave may be unique, but it’ll make you zilch.

Here at AWeber, we have terrific automations and an easy-to-use interface, but we choose to highlight our amazing award-winning customer service as our USP. We’re not just biased. Our customer solutions team takes home Stevie Awards every year (the Stevie Awards are like the Oscars in the customer solutions world).

There are a bunch of Email Service Providers a customer can pick from. They ultimately pick us because they know they’ll always have a live expert  to help them. 

While other ESPs are cutting back or nixing their customer service hours altogether, we’re adding to ours. Reach an AWeber email expert 24/7 via phone, chat and email

Haven’t signed up for your FREE AWeber account yet? Create your account today! 

So what’s your USP?

To uncover your USP, answer these questions in as much detail as possible:

  1. What product or service are you selling? If you’re an affiliate, what businesses or products are you promoting?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. Who are your competitors and what are their USPs?
  4. What does your business or product do well in comparison to your competitors?
  5. What are your customer’s pain points?
  6. What is your most important customer-focused business objective?

Now, answer this question in one line or less: What makes you different? What is your USP?

Once you’ve answered the 6 questions, ask yourself: How does my product or service solve my target audience’s biggest problem?

Then try to boil it down to a short and concise answer. (One to two sentences MAX.) This sentiment is your promise to your customer.

Put your USP everywhere so it stays front of mind. Make it your computer and cellphone background. Frame it on your desk. Sign it at the bottom of your emails.

Live it, breathe it — and make sure it applies to your product.


  1. Karen M McCamy

    4/12/2018 2:47 pm

    Hi Jill,

    Thanks for this information on creating the USP! It was a struggle for me, but thanks to your 24/7 Master Class — and some dedicated help from your instructors 🎉🎉🎉 — I actually have it completed!

    Someplace I read — I think it was actually in a lesson in the same Course — that each email should somehow reference the USP. But, my USP is very broad and I don’t know how to repeatedly “reference” the USP in very specific email topics…without it sounding awkward or contrived! did I misunderstand the message about always referencing the USP in every email???


  2. Jill Fanslau

    4/13/2018 2:28 pm

    Hi Karen! I’m so glad to hear that you have your USP squared away — and that you found AWeber’s 24/7 Email Marketing Master Class extremely helpful.

    You did read that in the Master Class! More so than reference the USP in every email, you should just keep it “front of mind” as you write.

    Is your email in line with your USP? Does it reflect your core mission? Does your email set you apart from the masses?

    When we don’t keep our USP “front of mind,” we can find ourselves sending R.O.T. — redundant, outdated, or trivial information. R.O.T. is not valuable for your subscribers, and it can make you blend in with the crowd (if you mimic what others are doing). But if you write your emails with your USP in mind, you can find creative and innovative ways to produce emails.

    Hope that clears it up 🙂

  3. Grace

    4/12/2018 7:04 pm

    You grabbed me with the “Granny style” and made me want to read more. But then you lost me with the sports player analogy. If you mean the “granny style” is the same as making “the main thing the main thing”… then I get it. Pick my biggest strength, best product, most unique process etc., and run with it. Is THIS what you mean by “Granny style”? Still don’t get the analogy, but oh well.

  4. Jill Fanslau

    4/13/2018 2:38 pm

    Hi Grace!

    Thanks for reaching out for clarification. I was trying to explain how your USP is a lot like Rick Barry’s “granny style” free throw. Every single basketball player in the NBA shoots free throws the SAME way. But then, suddenly, Barry found a different way to do it — and he became one of the best free throw shooters of all time.

    When you’re amongst a field of competitors, it can be tempting to mimic what others are doing because it works for them. But if you always copy everyone else, you’ll never stand out.

    What if you can find a slightly BETTER way? What if you can find your “granny style?” Suddenly, you’ll have all eyes on you. You’ll become memorable and not just another face among the crowd. You’ll become the front runner.

    The 6 questions you can download in this article will help you figure out what your “unique twist” (or granny style!) should be.

    Hope this helps!