TSH 16: How to stand out when you sell online: Creating USPs

marketing product Nov 06, 2023

Reading time: 2 mins 30 seconds

A common trait that successful businesses have, is a unique selling proposition, or USP.

Ecommerce is a lot more cluttered than it was 10 years ago, and it can be hard to get noticed, get clicks on your ads, people to engage with your creative, and to make sales while not discounting. The most successful, multi-million dollar brands that I have worked with, are clearly able to articulate to me (and more importantly, their customer) as to how they're different to their competitors.

Our job is not to be an option, but to be the only option. 

Our brand has to be different to the others - otherwise we enter a bidding war; he who pays most wins. If we can't stand out, how can we dominate?

I want to talk about crafting your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

Put yourself in the shoes of someone browsing your website, or searching for a product that you sell. Now open your website, and then open your biggest competitor's website. Can you provide 1, 2 or 3 clear reasons as to why you would honestly choose to buy your product over your competitors? If you can, congratulations, there are your USPs. If you can't, you have some work to do.

Fluffy USPs

When I started my first brand, I used to say that my products were better quality than the rest, at a slightly better price point. Now I realize that wasn't strong enough, and I really couldn't say that with honest conviction - a fluffy USP.

Now when I'm coaching an ecommerce business, I always ask what their USP is, and occasionally I'll hear that same line come back to haunt me - "we're better quality and a bit cheaper than the rest."

Having a clear USP dramatically improves your business. You're solving a problem. Your customers can find out what you do clearly and easily, your ad copy has better hooks, you can't be copied or replaced easily - the list goes on.

The question you need to answer is, why would someone choose your product or business over your competitor?

Your USP is more than just finding your niche - which I think is a great idea anyway, but there's other players in your niche - your USP sets you apart from those other players.


I want to give you an example from the footwear industry.

Sketchers, a footwear company with yearly sales of around the $8bn mark have clearly nailed their USPs. 

Take a look at their homepage below, they literally flood their main banner with USPs. 

Let's review their USPs:

1) Putting on your shoes has never been easier

2) Hands free slip-ins

3) Never have to touch your shoes again

4) Exclusive heel pillow holds your foot securely in place


What they're doing there is, identifying a problem, and solving it. So they've found a niche, which is 'comfortably stylish' shoes, and they've given a potential customer a clear reason as to why they should choose their shoes over one of their competitors. What stands out to me, is that the USPs are made clear in the banner, they're simple, and the language used is strong.

Having this strong language and clear messaging allows Sketchers to:

  • Zero in on a demographic who is experiencing this problem - "They're talking to me."
  • Use strong compelling copy in ads - the hook.
  • Justify strong pricing which helps maintain margins by clearly displaying their superior features.
  • Differentiate between Sketchers and the competition.


Finding Your Brand's USP

Too many business owners are fabricating their USP. People aren't going to buy your products just because you say they're great. If I have a women's fashion business I can't expect people to choose my products by saying that the quality is better than any other brand on the market - how can a customer clearly see that?

The USP has to be clearly communicated and it needs to be genuine - fluffy USPs won't cut it.

Here are some tips to discovering your USP

1. Analyze your competitors and identify their weaknesses: Identify 3 competitors who might be taking a share of your market, and identify gaps in their offering, A great way to collect data is to look at their reviews (or your own for that matter). Make a list under each competitor. 

2. List your brands current USPs or features: Make a list of your brands strong points, and identify if they fill any of the gaps, or weaknesses that you identified in your competitors.

3. Read your reviews: Your customers will be one of the best resources when it comes to critiquing or praising your business. Make a list of what they say is great about your product, or specifically what problems it has helped them solve.


The Dos and don'ts of setting a USP:


  • Find something unique to your brand
  • Solve a problem
  • Fill a gap left by your competitors


  • Make something up that's fluffy
  • Copy your competitors 
  • Complicate your USP - keep it simple

Examples of Famous USPs:

  1. Dollar Shave Club's Subscription Model and Marketing: Dollar Shave Club disrupted the shaving industry with its subscription-based model and humorous marketing campaigns, providing affordable razors delivered to your door.

  2.  IKEA's Affordable and DIY Furniture: IKEA's flat-pack, affordable, and easy-to-assemble furniture is a distinctive feature that appeals to customers looking for budget-friendly yet stylish home furnishing solutions.
  3. Patagonia's Environmental Ethos: Patagonia's USP revolves around its commitment to environmental sustainability, ethical manufacturing, and high-quality outdoor gear.
  4. Zappos' Customer Service and Returns Policy: Zappos is known for exceptional customer service and its hassle-free, generous return policy, setting it apart in the online retail industry.
  5. Warby Parker's Try-at-Home Option: Warby Parker allows customers to select and try on several frames at home before purchasing, providing a hassle-free way to shop for eyewear online.


 In summary

Your brand's USP is your elevator pitch. If you were to go onto Shark Tank, what would you actually be pitching? The USP is how you pitch to your customers, every single time you market to them. Having a clear set of USPs is a critical part of becoming a serious online business. If you're just selling stuff, that's a great hobby. If you're planning to build generational wealth, and leave a legacy with your brand, then start by clearly articulating your brand's USPs.

Till next week,




If you want to work with me, here's how:

1. Take my Free Ecommerce Masterclass '90 Days to Ecommerce Success' here

2. Ongoing advisory - Wait list - email [email protected]

3. 1:1 Coaching

4. Shopify Start - My online course that teaches beginners how to use Shopify

5. Ecommerce Start - My online course that teaches people how to start an online business and turn a profit in less than 3 months. 

6. Ecom Nation - Digital marketing for your business

7. Buy my book, Shopify for Dummies

8. Pre order my book, Selling Online for Dummies

9. Speaking or conferences: Email me at [email protected]