What is a "unique value proposition"?


This is way sexier than it sounds. I promise. A Unique Value Proposition contributes to more inspired work, greater success in your endeavours, higher motivation for all involved, a clearer sense of direction, a better fit with your intended audience, and a stronger drive towards your goals.

That sounds pretty sexy, doesn’t it?

However, like all things worthwhile, it does take some hard work. In this article I am going to give you my perspective on who needs a UVP, how it is defined, give you some ideas to consider when you are formulating yours, and be a little pushy about why it is so important.

Who needs a UVP?

Every organization needs one. Companies, non-profit organizations, sole-proprietorships, corporations, even individuals will benefit from developing a one because a Unique Value Proposition is how you articulate your value to your audience and yourself.

This bears repeating: Your UVP articulates your value to your audience and yourself.

Articulate your value. Oh, it sounds easy, but don’t be fooled. Developing your UVP is challenging in the way that long-term goal-setting, talking to your teenagers about sex, or resolving a conflict with your sweetheart is challenging — important to do, but pretty hard (and way too easy to avoid until it’s too late). Many of us would prefer sweating through hours of miserable ditching digging rather than toiling with our UVP development.

It can take some hard thinking, careful investigation, soul-searching and painful word-smithing to get it to really resonate. And it has to resonate. If it doesn’t resonate with you and your company, then you may as well steal someone else’s UVP.

Oh dear. I’m draining all the sexiness out of it aren’t I?

Too many of us skip creating a UVP because we get pulled in to the all-encompassing work of running things. The tyranny of the urgent can overshadow the important work of being crystal clear about your value — and your values.

What is a Unique Value Proposition?

Starting with breaking down the phrase helps to clarify the concept:

Unique — The way you are special.
Value — The meaningful worth of what you offer to your intended audience.
Proposition — A promise.

A Unique Value Proposition is a statement that articulates your value to your audience and yourself. It is short, true, clear, and — this is important — compelling. That’s where the word-smithing comes in. Poor writing can actually mask a good idea.

A UVP is longer than a tagline but not as full as a mission statement. It should say who your customers are, what you provide to them, and why they buy from you, or in other words, it states what your business is and what it actually does. A UVP is not a hope, a wish, or a goal. You need to be able to deliver your UVP with confidence and passion. It can’t be an act. It has to be real and it has to feel right.

It is short, true, clear, and — this is important — compelling. That’s where the word-smithing comes in.
Poor writing can actually mask a good idea.

From my perspective a UVP is about finding the sweet spot at the intersection between your values, your offering, and what your audience values. It is discovered rather than decided. After you have found your market and you understand its needs, you are ready to fill them. But in order to be happy about fulfilling those needs, they need to be aligned with your values and those of your company. You need to discover that sweet spot where not only can you fill the needs, you want to.

How do you develop a UVP?

Of course, there isn’t a formula to develop a UVP (that would be too easy), but here are some ideas and questions to consider when developing yours.


What is unique about your approach, your values, your method, your service, your product, your company culture, or your way of doing things that resonates with some people and not with others? This is not about identifying yourself as faster, better, cheaper, best or most. So many businesses use those words that they become meaningless. This is about understanding what makes you different and what makes you special. This is about answering the question “Why should they work with you?” Being specialized will create a niche. Having a niche means that your offering is not for everyone — which is good. You actually have to close some doors to open others.


Above I used the words “meaningful worth” to describe value. That phrase refers to two meanings of the word “value”: as in “one’s values”; and as in “the intrinsic worth of something”. What we value is the reason we humans keep getting up every day. We value our relationships, our ideals, our ideas, our goals — the things we value drive us. Being clear about your values can help you connect with others who share those values. Connect your values to the ways you help your audience reach their goals and solve their problems. Your audience is made up of people, and people like doing business with other people they relate to. You want your audience to have a relationship with your company and experience the benefit of your solutions. What are your company’s values? Can they connect to the worth of your offering? What is valuable to your audience?


Make your proposition not only some thing you can consistently deliver, but something you want to consistently deliver. If you can’t keep your promise, change your promise. What can you deliver consistently?

One more thing: If you are not someone who has a talent for writing, then hire a writer. It will be money well spent. The words matter — you want your UVP to be inspiring and engaging as well as accurate.

Why do you need a UVP?

The benefits of having a UVP are many! A UVP is inspiring both to you and other members of your company. It guides your organization’s actions. It guides your audience’s actions. It separates you from a sea of similar businesses. A UVP is like a guiding light. It guides your decisions, your communications, and your customer interactions. It is a solid reminder to people within the company of why you do what you do and with whom. It can attract the customers best suited to you and repel those who would be a bad fit. It makes answering the “What do you do?” question at cocktail parties easy.

So, remember: a Unique Value Proposition is how you articulate your value to your audience and yourself. Developing one will result in a clear sense of direction for your organization, and help you find a better fit with your audience. Of course, the process of finding your Unique Value Proposition requires some hard work, and is decidedly un-sexy, but I’d still argue that the result is. What could be better than confidently articulating your value to the audience who will value it too? Confidence is definitely sexy.