10 Examples of Killer Unique Selling Propositions on the Web

Saddleback Leather Co.Two weeks ago, we talked about why a unique selling proposition is so important in building a high-traffic website or blog.

Today let’s make this discussion a little more concrete. Below are 10 websites and blogs with phenomenal USPs.

These are the types of businesses that quickly draw you in (or repel you, which can be a good thing) because of who they are. They reek uniqueness and it’s clear from the first minute what they’re all about.

Notice that few if any of them have invented entirely new topics or products. Each of these businesses sells something people already buy (advice, marketing services, handbags, chocolate), but they have each taken a unique approach that gives them a significant advantage over other players in their respective markets.

Don’t compete directly in a crowded space. Instead, make your site stand out for its uniqueness and building a big audience will be so much easier.

Here are 10 examples of websites with kickass unique selling propositions (numbered for your pleasure, but in no particular order):

1. Saddleback Leather

Saddleback Leather

There is no other leather bag company on the planet like Saddleback Leather. This company oozes personality. The website is full of tales of Mexican bullfighting, travel in third-world countries, simple pleasures and touching stories about the owner’s beloved Labrador named Blue.

And Saddleback’s slogan is killer: “They’ll Fight Over it When You’re Dead.”

2. Mast Brothers Chocolate

Mast Brothers Chocolate

The Mast Brothers (seen above) have an unhealthy obsession with crafting chocolate. They literally make every bar themselves, from the cacao bean all the way to packaging. The dedication itself makes for a great USP, but then there’s the rest of the story.

Rick and Michael Mast have a personal style that stands out. It says “we’re from the 18th century, back when craftspeople were revered and took pride in working with their hands.” The Brothers travel by wooden sailboat to foreign lands to find the best cacao possible, and then ship the beans back by sailboat. Strange and over-the-top? Yes. An unforgettable story of dedication that no other chocolate company can match? Indeed.

3. World’s Strongest Librarian

What the hell do kettlebells have to do with being a librarian? What is life with Tourette syndrome like, especially for an author?

Read the World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne to find out. It makes for an incredibly unique and unforgettable story.

4. Nerd Fitness

How many sites out there are about health and fitness? Probably tens or hundreds of thousands. How many sites out there about fitness cater specifically to nerds? You let me know in the comments if there are any besides Nerd Fitness by Steve Kamb.

5. TOMS Shoes

TOMS Shoes

TOMS Shoes are quirky, comfy, light and inexpensive. That alone maybe isn’t enough to make a company stand out in the shoe business. The most unique and compelling part of the TOMS Shoes story is that they give a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair you purchase.

Who else cares that much?

6. Far Beyond the Stars

Far Beyond the Stars

If you’re a regular reader of Think Traffic, you’ve probably heard me mention Everett and Far Beyond the Stars a few times. Far Beyond the Stars has grown into a 5,000 subscriber blog in about 9 months. Everett’s writing is inspiring, and his unique selling proposition is brilliant.

Instead of just writing about minimalism (lots of blogs do that), or just writing about location independence (plenty of blogs do that too), or writing solely about earning a living online (god knows how many blogs do that), Everett combined the three into a powerfully unique message.

By applying the principles of minimalism to business, Everett shows you how to succeed much faster and create a business you can operate from anywhere in the world working only a couple of hours a day.

Note: Everett no longer is running Far Beyond the Stars

7. Outspoken Media

Outspoken Media

Outspoken Media is one of my favorite Internet marketing blogs. They stand out from the world of “me too” marketing experts. What makes them stand out? They’re brash, bold, and not afraid to say what’s on their minds when everyone else is spouting the same boring social media tips.

Oh, and did I mention the company is 100% female and proud of it? That’s a unique selling proposition for the online marketing world in itself.

8. IttyBiz

IttyBiz

Naomi Dunford started by addressing a market in need of help (marketing for businesses without marketing departments), and then added her over-the-top personality and wit. IttyBiz isn’t for everyone, but people who love it really love it. I’m one of those people who love it.

9.  Kiva

Kiva

There are plenty of places to loan money for a profit. There are also plenty of places to donate money to help change people’s lives. What about loaning money to change lives? That’s where Kiva comes in.

In 2005, Kiva launched and brought microloans online. Since then, over $100 million has been loaned to small entrepreneurs in the world’s poorest places. How’s that for unique and compelling?

10. Your turn: who would you add to this list?

What’s your favorite example of a kick-ass unique selling proposition? Please share in the comments!

Or, check out part 1 of this series: The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Unique Selling Proposition.

Get the free guide to defining your audience
  • http://www.HectorJCuevas.com Hector Cuevas

    Corbett – great post bro

    Nerd Fitness?? that one caught my attention quick!

    I just stumbled onto IttyBiz the other day – and you’re right, it definitely pulls you in.. Having a Unique blog and business eliminates any competition,

    I also feel personal branding and creating a relationship with your audience plays a role in ‘eliminating the competition’..

    Thanks for sharing these examples..
    talk soon
    Hector Cuevas

  • http://darrenlcarter.com/blog/ Darren L Carter

    Hey,

    Interesting post. These are all unique products that really do have good selling points.

    Thanks for sharing this with everyone.

    Peace,
    Darren L Carter

  • http://www.mikeziarko.com Mike Ziarko Musing

    Excellent list Corbett. Finely crafted and I’m always eager to find out about successful businesses who are doing things right. The right USP is not easy to find and when you see someone who gets it, its really inspiring!

  • http://website-in-a-weekend.net/ Dave Doolin

    Having a compelling story is critical, and something I haven’t quite figured out.

    Being a special snowflake, unique, like every other snowflake, isn’t very engaging.

  • http://joelrunyon.com/two3 Joel | Blog Of Impossible Things

    Corbett-
    Great List. Pumped you included Kiva on the list & even more so that you found Nerd Fitness. I love that site. Steve’s getting ready to blow up big time.

    Another good one is http://www.sovereignman.com/ . Location Independence mixed with a little bit of paranoia & Jason Bourne attitude. Good stuff :)

  • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

    These are unique sites and a unique theme to fit what you are selling is a good way to catch attention. Believe it or not, I hadn’t heard of any of these blogs before you pointed them out.

  • http://www.trippingmom.com Marilia

    The Venus Project (www.thevenusproject.com) has a tremendous unique selling proposition. It´s about a complete redesign of our culture. 15 million people know about the Venus Project already. What do you say?

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Corbett, Great list. Creating a USP is still a bit elusive to me — it’s a lot like math. Show me some examples and it makes perfect sense, but when i try to do it on my own I freeze up.

    +1 for Nerd Fitness, great site and community, truly in the face of every other fitness site / mag out there that takes the body builder approach.

  • http://ittybiz.com Naomi Dunford

    Hey Corbett!

    Thanks so much for the mention. I now want one of those bags more than I want a pony. Or a bouncy castle. I’m drooling.

    xx
    ND

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Don’t give up your bouncy castle dreams. We all need something to strive for. Plus, I don’t think your little guy would appreciate a nice leather bag as much.

  • http://hjmart.etsy.com HJM art gallery

    Hi Corbett! I really enjoyed this post! I am going to bookmark it and check each of this sites in more detail. My art’s style and painting technique is very unique and unusual, but it is so difficult to find a way to communicate it in a clever and interesting way. I realized a while ago that for me to sell my art I can’t “compete directly in a crowded space”, but need to come up with a unique approach. Anyone has an idea? :-)))))

  • http://www.intreehouses.com Thom

    Flipping superb post Corbett, well researched and featuring some interesting selling ideas. Particularly like the chocolate boys, that’s the type of brand that hits with me…

    Thom

  • http://www.nerdfitness.com Steve

    Hey Corbett!

    Great post man; I feel honored to be on the list. Great call with Josh @ World’s Strongest Librarian – one of the nicest guys in the world, and so freaking funny. Easily one of the most unique websites out there.

    -Steve

  • http://simplyoptimal.net Gianpaolo Pietri | Simply Optimal

    Great list Corbett.

    Naomi Rocks! When I first came upon Ittybiz a while back I couldn’t stop reading posts for a couple of hours. One of the only blogs that gets me laughing out loud. In an ocean of internet marketers, she shines through with her absolutely unique writing style.

    Everett is the man. Been following him since soon after he started. I’m convinced that the key to his success is the precision with which he communicates his message. His idea is simple and every post is centered around propelling it forward and getting that specific message across.

    The Mast Brothers. What can I say? Clever lads they are. Everything about them — the way they talk, the way they dress, the way they find the cacao, the way they package their chocolate — speaks to the essence of their brand. My personal favorites as far as branding. (oh, and thanks for the mention on that one, glad to be of service).

    Toms shoes. I have several pairs. The only time I don’t wear them is when attending meetings.

    We see eye to eye when it comes to great USPs.

  • http://www.reinventing64.com Pamela Picard

    You’re spot on that a business has to separate itself from the crowd, but it’s important not to confuse a clever personality with a total package.

    A shoe store that gives a pair of shoes to charity for every pair it sells is indeed novel. But so is Zappo’s whose scope of inventory and total commitment to customer service is unmatched in its category.

    No offense to Naomi. I love what’s she’s done with Itty Biz – taking a common service offering and giving her image and message uncommon pizazz. How is this a unique selling proposition?

    Maybe I’m confusing your message with my meaning. *smile*

    In my experience, a USP is like the dog that didn’t bark in the Sherlock Holmes novel – it’s distinct in every way: products, pricing, promotion and people. Image and message reflect this, synthesize this and amplify it. They don’t effect it.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Check out my interview with Naomi from a couple of months back. We talk extensively about how micro-businesses can leverage personality as a key component of the USP. The person becomes the USP because no other business can duplicate her or him exactly. I know it’s stretching the bounds of the traditional USP definition, but I really think there’s a lesson there for very small businesses.

  • http://keepupwiththeweb.com Sherryl Perry

    I love your examples of sites with killer USPs. You’ve turned what could have been a cut-and-dry list into an exciting post. Just by the screenshots, you can tell that these are not cookie-cutter sites. The only one I was aware of is IttyBiz and I have used her site as an example of having a unique USP. Can’t wait to check out the others!

  • http://www.36pounds.com Adrijus

    Hmm… I’d add Pat Flynn from http://www.smartpassiveincome.com, very transparent and very open. I also really like Neil Patel from http://www.quicksprout.com. Bold and helpful!

    And last, but probably the best for me is Gary Vaynerchuk from http://www.winelibrarytv.com and http://www.garyvaynerchuk,com. So much personality and passion, some love him, some hate him.

    I’m trying to come up with USP for my personal blog now. Can’t put my finger on it yet..I know it will be about business, internet marketing and things I like (photography, great quotes, case studies…) but can’t decide quite yet…

  • http://raamdev.com Raam Dev

    Great list. The Mast Brothers Chocolate really caught my attention.

    Who would I add to this list? Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity comes to mind.

  • http://thebloggersway.com Stuart McMinigal

    These are a whole bunch of great looking and unique sites. I was aware of a few but the others were very nice and well designed sites which intrigued me very much.

    Stuart

  • http://www.technshare.com Dev – Technshare.com

    Hey Corbett,

    Really great Post. These are great blogs.

    Outspokenmedia is really awesome blog :).

    Thanks for sharing this great Post.

    ~Dev

  • http://hypno.co.nz/blogs Mike Reeves-McMillan

    Similar to IttyBiz in being personality-based, and with a very clear USP, is Catherine Caine’s Be Awesome Online (tagline: Website advice for delightful weirdos).

    Catherine has built a business that’s in the early stages of thriving through a combination of her unique personality, a clear focus on who she’s serving (people who are a bit off-beat but in a fun way, like her, and have websites that they want to improve), and really, really useful website advice.

    http://beawesomeonline.com is the address. It has an unusual look, too.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Thanks for the tip, Mike. I hadn’t heard of that one.

  • http://lifestylerevised.com Mike

    Hey Corbett,

    This is one of those things that seems almost obvious, but so hard to do. Hats off to the creatives who do this so well. For the rest of us, standing out has got to be THE biggest challenge.

    As you pointed out, there are so many sites covering just about any topic, but how many get noticed? Few gain much traction I wager.

    Good topic and definitely deserving of multiple posts. This one gives lots of food for thought

    Mike.

  • http://buzzmedia.com.my David Wang

    Hi Corbett, great list and +1 for Chris Guillebeau’s Art of Non-Conformity http://www.chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/

  • Gary Wilson

    http://www.nerdynomad.com/
    Is one that I really like

  • http://www.allofusrevolution.com Kristin

    Awesome list. Glad to learn about Outspoken Media! Working on a social entrepreneurship blog at the moment, this post really helped us work on our USP/USB. Thanks so much!

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Cheers, glad to help, Kristin.

  • http://Fullsizeplatformbed.net Steve Wyman

    Hi

    There are some great stes here. love the choclate guys.

    These sites with the USP’s are really creating great brands and value.

    Thanks for the info very worth while stopping by.

    regards

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  • http://www.communitycloset.com Caron Cooper

    We are a nonprofit thrift store in Livingston MT. One of the hardest things about thrift store shopping is fit – dressing rooms tend to be cramped and who wants to strip down in a thrift store.

    We want our customers to look and feel good in our clothes, so we encourage folks to check out up to five items to try on in the comfort of their own home.

    Moms struggling with little ones, people shopping for others, and folks in a hurry love this policy. Sure, not everyone returns, but the folks who do (over 85%) become long-term customers.

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  • Kelley Mitchell

    Would like to see examples of B2B companies with USPs.

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  • Gina

    I absolutely love the t-shirts and posters from despair.com

    Their humor is so unique at every point of the buying process.

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  • http://www.ecolandscapegroup.com/ Wells

    Organic food for thought for sure.

    I guess when I think of a unique selling position in the world of blogs, the one thing that comes to mind is just offering real tools people can take home and use. Writing epic shit, right? The content farms have puked their BS all over the web so much that if you offer real stuff that’s entertaining too, you’ll get noticed and become successful. I just hope I can do that.

    Thanks again for the great tools. I use them every day!

    Wells

  • Minna

    This concept is simply a great!!

    Regards,
    N.Hafeeza.

  • http://digitalvideopros.com/ Follow Focus

    Love these tips.All of these sites are new to me (except Kiva).
    Great for getting in the right mindset.

  • http://beyondpickup.net/ Marco Lee

    I like those brothers who make chocolate haha. I always wonder a good USP for one of my sites. I guess the title “Beyond Pick Up” is good already for the pick up niche. A client once said that it just gives or sounds more than the traditional “pick up arts”

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  • http://www.thedynamiclife.com Hugh

    This is a great list and really gets the ideas flowing.

    For a great USP, I recommend checking out http://www.fleishers.com, a butcher shop w/ 2 locations in New York. Why unique? They sell only grass fed organic beef that is raised within 50 miles. They are one of the only companies in the world who do what they do. I’ve met one of the guys and they are insanely passionate about it too!

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  • http://slowfoodfastchildren.blogspot.com Kea

    Wow – saddleback leather is cool. I’m going to buy one of their bags for my husband!!

    I like the USP http://mediatouchpoint.com/msfw2011 has created. They provide media (from monolith tv stations down to tiny bloggers) with free access to pre-edited videos of events (mostly fashion but they are branching out) that they can either download in low or high res, or share via embed code or a facebook share.

    Why is it unique? its free for media, so it gets the event videos out there into cyberspace, and gives the client (in the link above it is the ‘city of melbourne’) great reporting about who / where / how long their videos are watched, instead of just uploading to YouTube and seeing a view count.

  • http://www.nichesense.com Anshul

    Great list corbett. Really like the “beyond the stars” blog although I do feel that effectiveness of having a USP for your blog largely depends on your target audience.

    In my case I focus on providing good quality content with real life examples and proof which has helped me grow my blog without really having a USP as such.

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  • http://marketingwithsergio.com Sergio Felix

    Hey Corbett,

    Well I think that there are a lot of USPs lately out there but I don’t know if I can mention one that you’re not familiar with already.

    As to finding out my own, I think that’s going to be hard as hell. I’ll definitely will have to put some heavy thinking into this.

    Sergio

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  • Alyona

    Thanks for your list, Corbett!

    How’s about IKEA? Pretty big company, but they do have a USP to my opinion

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Great addition Alyona, I agree.

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  • Mike

    The question is, how do you create a good USP when your company offers a wide variety of products to a wide variety of users.

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  • Margret Thompson

    Love this. Helped me with my business studies homework!! Do you have any suggetions for services with USP?

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  • http://www.thrillengine.com Emils Veveris

    http://37signals.com/ should be definitely on the list.

    They have a very strong USP. From open source projects – http://rubyonrails.org/, books – http://www.amazon.com/Rework-Jason-Fried/dp/0307463745, to top personalities – https://twitter.com/jasonfried, https://twitter.com/dhh.

    Their whole business stand point is about being small, simple and with an USP!

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  • http://www.productsforresale.com Robert C – The Wholesale Guy

    I am so glad that I read this post….

    This is exactly the way I want to develop a new site I have in mind with my own USP that I hope will become a “site that matters”. I have always been a bit sarcastic, irreverent, and wanted to incorporate my own personal industry experiences into the content mix.

    Prior to this article, I was aware that Saddle-Back leather’s site was an illustration of coloring outside the lines. His personal story about Blue really hit home with my own dog who passed a few years ago.

    I thought his brand of marketing was the rare exception that worked (Woot.com being the other – but I will comment on that later).

    It was a shot in the arm knowing there were more sites out there adopting their own USP. I was always afraid of injecting that type of style into my particular industry, which is relatively humor less and straight forward. I just don’t know how well it would be received.

    But, after seeing the success of others and being that my niche industry is quite the lack luster bunch, my brand of personalized USP just might be the way to shake up the terminally melancholy.

    As a side-note, the website that I think best employs a USP to the utmost is Woot.com. I think it will be, in part, the compass by which I will guide the launch of what I hope to be a branded web property. If Woot.com has already been mentioned here, my apologies for redundancy.

    What is unique about their style of customer engagement is not necessarily the sharing of personal stories or anecdotes. Their USP engages their customers with not only what they consider to be the best “one off” deals of the day, but relies on copy-writing that runs the gamut from humorous to down right, at times, disrespectful and insulting.

    People, obviously, seem to “dig” what they are doing and don’t rail against it too much. Even if they do, I would assume that it creates a “love to hate” situation which makes those who might even view it negatively
    as a place to go and not only buy their goods – but to see how good – the insults are on any given day.

    Even more incredible, at least to me, is their foray into social media…

    They have garnered over a million followers on Twitter which I find astounding. And that is one of the problems that has plagued me when it comes to a new site launch. How did they use social media to get so many people engaged and buying? Maybe just the uniqueness of their brand helped spread the word?

    I guess I will just have to buy “How To Start A Blog That Matters” to find out the nuts and blots of a successful launch! I may be asking the obvious here, but I would assume the course goes in-depth when it comes to traffic and list generation? A good social media marketing plan would be a plus as well…

    The content – I can deliver. Engagement – check. It is traffic and the expertise in building a subscriber list effectively that I am most interested in, and lack the knowledge of…Thanks again for this post….Robert Cary…

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  • http://www.thebridgemaker.com Alex Blackwell | The BridgeMaker

    Agree – an excellent list. Here’s another example of a USP: http://tinybuddha.com/

    Lori’s tagline “simple wisdom for complex lives” is brilliant.

    Alex

  • http://freefrombroke.com Glen Craig

    Similar to Tom’s is Warby Parker where you can get some reasonably-priced AND good-looking glasses. And they donate a pair when you buy one (which adds some nice awesome-sauce to their proposition).

  • http://www.smallbusinesssanctuary.com Jacob Phillips

    Great post Corbett. Another very cool website I came across is Neeman Tools – makers of knifes, axes and saws using traditional methods. Check out this video:

    http://vimeo.com/37360333

    It really gives you a feel for the kind of passion and dedication that goes into every tool they build. Very similar to the Mast brothers just with sharp weapons instead of chocolate!

  • http://www.declamatoria.com Sebastian Lora

    Hi Corbett,

    Thanks for this. For some reasons, the link to “Far beyond the stars” won’t work. I tried looking it up on google and I get his blog from 2011 with a WordPress URL.

    Seb

  • http://www.coolgadgetsqatar.com Ahmed

    I just launched my site and I am starting with tiny steps, things after the launch is disappointing, I am trying to get customers feedback to change things.
    I post is inspiring I guess I have to sit for a brainstorming session to reach the USP for my site.
    If you can take a look at my site and give me any feedback that would be great.
    Thanks for all the good work you are doing here it is awesome, Keep it up.

    Regards,

    Ahmed

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  • http://www.sawwebmarketing.com Matthew

    You truly take great content to a whole new level! Super impressed – thanks for the great reference. Have a great week.

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  • ebony

    two of my favorites: http://www.themiddlefingerproject.org/ and http://erikanapoletano.com/. seems i must have a thing for sites by foul-mouthed women!

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  • Annie

    http://www.artofmanliness.com. best. website. ever. their USP is amazing. (i’m not even a man and i think so!)

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  • Kumar Guru

    Most people here are getting confused with slogan vs USP. Slogan does not sell it creates attention. USP sells.

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