We’re all in the business of selling. We’re either actually trying to sell products or services, or we’re trying to “sell” people on taking some kind of an action. Even nonprofits are trying to sell people on making donations. But with the unemployment rate constantly making the news and articles about “how to get a raise” and “how to brand yourself” across magazines and websites alike, it’s clear that many of use aren’t so great at selling the one product that counts most: Ourselves.
Today, we’re going to cut right to the chase and talk about the one thing that gives you the power to “sell” yourself in interviews, in meetings, when asking for a raise, when meeting new business contacts and even just meeting new people anywhere. That one thing is what sets you apart from your peers and what makes you unique and memorable.
That thing is your USP.
What is a USP?
USP stands for Unique Selling Perspective (or Unique Selling Point, depending on who you ask) and it’s the one-or-two-sentence statement of what makes a product completely (and compellingly) different from its competition. The USP answers the consumer’s question of “Why should I buy this one instead of any of the other ones?
And when the product is you, it’s the statement of what sets you apart from all of your peers, all of the other copywriters, all of the other project managers, all of the other circus monkey wranglers—whoever else is vying with you for a position in the professional world.
How to Write Your USP
So, what does set you apart from your peers? Why should someone hire you or give you a raise or give you a promotion instead of any one of the other people in the world that do what you do? If your answer is something like, “Well, I’m a really good people person…” guess what? So are tons of your peers. What makes you unique? And if your answer is “I don’t know…” you’re in just the right place to find out.
Step 1: Brainstorm
To create your USP, your single-sentence statement of personal uniqueness, start by answering these questions. (And give yourself some time to do this, too. Your best answers may not be the most immediate ones.)
What do you do for a living?
What makes you especially good at what you do?
What skills do you have that make you unique at what you do?
What passions do you have?
What can you do that very few other people in the world can do?
What are your greatest strengths?
What have been your greatest life lessons?
What makes you unique as a professional?
What makes you unique as a person?
Step 2: Underline the Answers Most Important to You
Now, after you’ve taken some time to think these through carefully and come up with as many answers as you can, go through and underline the facts or ideas that are most important to you personally. What really makes up who you are?
Step 3: Circle the Answers Most Beneficial to a Company
Then, go through and circle the elements that are most beneficial to a company. What’s in you that works well for them?
Take special note of where these intersect, but don’t necessarily discount the places that they don’t.
Step 4: Put It All Together
Now, try your hand at crafting a single sentence that pulls it all together as a description of yourself. Your USP should be your elevator pitch (essentially, the 15-30 you might have in an elevator with a high-power exec to sell them on something), so make sure that it’s exciting, compelling and, above all, unique.
Here’s a possible example. “My name is Cathy. I’m a copywriter with a background in band management that makes me especially adept at writing for and facilitating product builds and releases for maximum consumer impact. I take calculated risks but I don’t believe in ignoring wisdom, so I’m learning to moderate usability labs.”
If someone were to say to Cathy, “What makes you unique? Why should I hire you?” she has a strong and compelling immediate answer.
On Episode 118 of the Build Your Copywriting Business podcast, Nicki and Kate dig into why USPs are so important, the simple formula for writing your USP, and the common pitfalls copywriters face when writing their USPs. They also give examples from Comprehensive Copywriting Academy students.(Though please do not use these as your own. It would be hard to do so, since your USP should be unique to you. Take the time to do the work!)
Your turn! What’s your USP? What makes you stand out from all of your peers? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking to stand out in your job search? Here are more tips:
- The Secret to Wowing Interviewers
- Questions to Prepare for in a Job Interview
- How to Avoid the Job Seeker’s #1 Enemy
- 5 Reasons You’re Not Getting Called Back
- The Truth About Recruiters
Last Updated on May 10, 2023
I am new to the course and have enjoyed reading the recommended articles thus far. I particularly liked this line, which succinctly sums up what USP is: ” What’s in you that works well for them?” That seems to hit the nail on the head.
I am approaching copywriting as an ESL teacher and assessment writer who has always enjoyed editing. A few things I noticed in the article:
Part of your photo captain reads, “many of use aren’t so great at selling…””
Later, in the description of “Cathy,” she is with a background in “band management” Did you mean brand?
Although unsolicited, I hope this was helpful, I’m really looking forward to dive deep into the CCA!
Nicki Krawczyk says
Nope, I did mean “band management”— as in, a manager of a band. People come to copywriting from *all kinds* of different backgrounds! 🙂
Thanks for commenting!