Whip Your Business Into Shape: Determine Your Unique Value Proposition in 8 Simple Questions

MissJQuestion: Excuse me for not using my “real” name here, but I have a pretty (ahem) unique job.  I’m a dominatrix.  Right now, I’m trying to transition my business from working with individuals to working with couples—capitalizing on the whole “50 Shades of Grey” fad.  How can I stand out in a surprisingly competitive space and make my new strategy a success?  –Mistress J., Long Beach, CA  

Answer: First, Wow. OK, No matter what you do—dominatrix or dog groomer—I think it’s absolutely essential that you communicate the *unique* part of your business, answering the question: “Why should someone choose you in particular?”

In order to overcome the “noise” of a crowded marketplace, you must be able to get across what makes you unlike everyone else. In your case, maybe most of your competitors are known for a specialty, but not whom they service. You might brand yourself as “discretely taking couples to any shade of grey…together.”

As far as I’m concerned, what you communicate is actually the absolute heart and soul of all business strategy. In other words, differentiate or die.

What is UVP, exactly?

Well, while a Value Proposition is usually measured in terms of “benefit minus cost,” a Unique Value Proposition communicates the special contribution you provide–in a way that is different from your competitors.

So, how do you figure out what your UVP is?

Well, first of all, as I mentioned in a video about determining your UVP, it’s about pinpointing what it is that makes you truly different enough. In order to do that, start by brainstorming, as a team (or in your case, with trusted advisors), asking, “Who are we, as a company?”

UVP-chunkofchange-mindmap-whoareweIf you provide a product, your unique value proposition might consist of:

  • A high perceived value
  • Unique packaging
  • Standout design
  • Ease of use, or
  • The ability to fill a need better than competing products.

If you provide a service, you might be different because of:

  • Faster response time;
  • The ability to offer more for less;
  • A high level of expertise;
  • The perception that you bring more to the table; or
  • The ability to time the service offering that you have with a particular need.

If you provide something else, you still have to tell people what unique value they’ll get for their money, which may include:

  • A “fit” with a particular value system (i.e. it elicits an emotion);
  • Personal identification with an issue (i.e. it strikes a chord);
  • Alleviation of an anxiety (i.e. it quells a negative feeling); or
  • Some sort of tangible incentive (e.g. a gift with donation).

What’s the big idea?

By now, you might have a bunch of adjectives, descriptors, and a mishmash of ideas…but, likely, no big, impressive, specific point of difference. That’s not only okay, it’s encouraged. Only after you’ve done some brilliant brainstorming can you distill your ideas down to perfection.

UVP-What-Makes-You-DifferentYour UVP in 8 Answers

The next step is narrowing it down. I’ve created a handy little business marketing worksheet that walks you through the process, which you can download here.


Regardless of whether you’re a product-based, service-oriented, or other kind of business, this series of eight questions will really help you hone in on your UVP.

So, I’m curious…

  • What challenges are you facing in determining your UVP?
  • Which question is the hardest for you to answer?
  • How did you feel after you put it all together?

Have a different question for Olga? Bring it on! Go to chunkofchange.com and submit your questions in the Ask Olga Box. Every question is answered thoughtfully, and may be featured here in an upcoming month.

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.