5 USP Mistakes You Should Avoid (These BLUNDERS Are Killing Your Business)

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Karthik Vijayakumar
Published on: August 7, 2023

Clients buy your courses and other products when your business has a USP. In yesterday’s post, I discussed why your business needs a unique selling proposition in the first place. Here’s the thing with USP, though–despite everything you know or do, you can still go wrong. USP mistakes can kill your business. That’s why I’m writing this post.

In the next ten minutes, you’ll learn five of the most common blunders businesses make with USP. But that’s not the bad news. The problem is that entrepreneurs tend to think that a USP is a creative wordsmithing exercise. No, it’s not. As you’ve seen in my earlier post, a USP has a job to do, depending on where you use it.

Without wasting any time, let me help you stop committing blunders with your unique selling proposition.

USP Mistakes

Five USP Mistakes You Must Avoid At Any Cost

In my experience with my business and working with clients, business owners tend to make many kinds of mistakes with a USP. But not all mistakes with USP are harmful to your business. However, a few can not just be harmful but dangerous. And here are five of them. Avoid them at any cost.

  1. Focusing on the Wrong WHO
  2. No Clear Goals
  3. Feature Focused
  4. Fictional Uniqueness
  5. Focused on Logic

While some of these can be clear, others may need some explanation. Let’s do that right away.

Mistake #1. Focusing on the Wrong WHO

USP Mistake AvisYou’re making this USP mistake if you do not clearly focus on the right “who” or sub-segment.

As I described USP in three words in an earlier post, it’s nothing but a “reason to buy” that you give to your customers or clients. But you’re barking at the wrong tree if you have the wrong client or customer.

My favorite example here is Avis. Today, it’s one of the world’s most well-known car rental companies. But it’s their USP that will tell you why they are big. Their USP is, “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder.” Not everyone can identify with that USP. But if you’ve been a customer of Hertz, the world’s No. 1 car rental company, you will get this in a wink.

Avis was very clear about who their target buyer is–it’s the customers of Hertz!

Coca Cola USP MistakeMistake #2. No Clear Goals

If your USP is not aligned with your course or business goals, you are making this USP mistake.

Every business has goals. While these goals could change over time, there’s always one. And a good USP aligns itself with the goal of the business. Let’s take the example of Coca-Cola, for instance.

Coca-Cola’s USP today reads, “Refresh the world and make a difference.” But that’s changed over time for this 137-year-old company. As its target market has changed over the years, the company has changed its USP, too, to stay relevant. For example, during the World War, Coca-Cola focused a lot on targeting American soldiers fighting in Europe and other parts of the world. They tied their USP down to American Culture.

Mistake #3. Feature Focused

Is your uniqueness all about your new shiny feature? Then you’re making this USP mistake.

One of the biggest reasons Nokia, Motorola, and many others failed as mobile phone manufacturers was because of focusing too much on features. Every time someone added a new feature, that became their USP.

Compare that to what Apple did. The Cupertino-headquartered company didn’t focus on features. Instead, they focused on the benefits to their target buyers. That’s why Apple is today the world’s most valuable company. Despite companies like Google trying to steal a piece of the pie, Apple continues to focus on the benefits of their target buyers.

When it comes to courses, stop focusing on the number of hours of video or how high-quality your videos and audio are. Instead, focus on your target buyers’ emotions. Do they want to move up their career ladder faster? Do they aspire to grow their money investing in the stock market? Are they good cooks that want their guests to talk about their cooking? Focus on the emotion and not the features.

Mistake #4. Fictional Uniqueness

M&M USP MistakeA unique selling proposition is not an imaginative story you give to your buyers. If you’re doing that, that’s a mistake.

One of the biggest needs of a unique selling proposition is believability. If your USP is based on a fictional idea, it can hurt your business. For example, using the phrase “world’s No. 1” doesn’t make your product the world’s number one.

Instead, look into something unique about your product or course. And if there’s something unique about you that your target buyers should care about, use it.

A good example of a USP here is that of M&Ms. It reads, “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.” The USP is believable–you can feel it. And the USP is also something people care about–no one wants chocolates to melt in their hands!

Mistake #5. Logic-based

A unique selling proposition gives your target buyers a reason to buy. It’s there to help them buy your course or product. And using logic works the opposite way. Because humans buy with emotions, they don’t buy with logic. Instead, they use it to justify their purchases. So how do you get this right? Trigger the emotion your buyers want to express.

Nike does this really well with its USP. “Just do it!” speaks to the emotion of its target buyers.

Are You Making a USP Mistake?

It’s time for you to consider looking at your USP. One question I get asked about USP is: “Should I have a USP for my business, or should it be just for my product?” And my answer is…both.

If your course doesn’t have a USP, create one. Your buyers want a reason to consider transacting with your business and need one to decide to buy your course. You can use one to optimize your sales letter.

Let me know what your course or business USP is in the comments. And if you want to sell more online courses, consider subscribing to the Paid Course Creator newsletter.

To your prosperity,


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About the author 

Karthik Vijayakumar

Hey, it's me, Karthik. I'm a ghostwriter and copywriter helping B2B founders and businesses. As a copywriter, I help founders validate and nail your messaging. As a ghostwriter, I write strategic blog posts to help you build authority or grow your inbound marketing. Click the tiny button below and connect with me on LinkedIn.

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