USP (Unique Selling Proposition) creates a a clear picture of your uique competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Uses of the method

  • Determining opportunities to improve existing or develop new USP's
  • Determining threats to existing USP's and potential mitigations


  • To convert company features into benefits that the customer will recognise and  identify with as truly unique
  • Excite target markets
  • Rapidly increases word of mouth
  • Cannot easily be copied


Can be difficult to determine especially in mature markets

Steps to complete

Answer these questions:

  • Positioning: Describe the current positioning of your organization in relation to this issue and the marketplace
  • Performance: Describe the current performance of your organization in relation to this issue and the marketplace
  • Perceptions: Describe the current perceptions of your organization in relation to this issue and the marketplace
  • Experience: Describe the history of your knowledge in relation to this issue and the marketplace
  • Capabilities: Describe the current capabilities of your organization in relation to this issue the marketplace
  • SWOT: Describe the current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your organization in relation to this issue and the marketplace. Compile a list of the strengths and weaknesses that will have the greatest influence on the organization's ability to capitalize on opportunities
  • Structure: Evaluate the organization's capacities--its management, program operations versus this issue
  • Capacity: Review the organization's current capacities, potential and future needs.
  • What's new to us?: What do you need to know better/don't know? How much has already been done by others that can be learnt? Is this issue still limited to enlightened companies or no-one? Are their proven methodologies and routes to success. Who could provide readily available help?
  • What should we do about it?: Describe all the potential actions you could take from your research thus far. Keep the list tight but don't miss any key opportunities. This field will be key as you move to the next sections and steps
  • List all the features/solutions you could offer, then use 'which means that ...' to the customer to convert into a USP. Then determine how to communicate to your stakeholders
  • Determine the fixed elements (almost certain hard trends) that will inform your strategic response: slow-changing phenomena e.g. demographic shifts, constrained situations e.g. resource limits, in the pipeline e.g. aging of baby boomers, inevitable collisions e.g. climate change arguments
  • Capture critical variables i.e. uncertainties, soft trends and potential surprises. Both these and the fixed elements will be key to creating scenarios and examining potential future paradigm shifts
  • Capture unique insight into new ways of seeing that can be utilized by the organization
  • State alternative hypotheses drawn with different assumptions and judgments.
  • Consider what factors would likely change your mind through receipt of new information.
  • Determine which factors could surprise and alter your judgment and the direction of the outcome.
  • What conclusions can we draw from the exercise(s)?
    • How might the future be different?
    • How does A affect B?
    • What is likely to remain the same or change significantly?
    • What are the likely outcomes?
    • What and who will likely shape our future?
    • Where could we be most affected by change?
    • What might we do about it?
    • What don't we know that we need to know?
    • What should we do now, today?
    • Why do we care?
    • When should we aim to meet on this?
  • Finish by noting your next steps. Next steps could include a further round of iteration, a recommendation on how to get the answers or use of other research and methods such as 'Starburst' to create more vantage points on the issue

This method and your response can be shared with other members or kept private using the 'Privacy' field and through the 'Tag', 'Report' and 'Forum' functionalities. Use 'Tag' and/or 'Report' to aggregate your analyzes, or add a 'Forum' to ask others where they agree/disagree and encourage them to make their own analysis from their unique vantage point.

Click the 'Invite tab to send invitations to other members or non-members (colleagues, external experts etc.) to ask for their input. You can whether or not you want anonymous responses.  These can be viewed and exported within the Responses tab.

Further reference

Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company first developed the term USP in the early 1940's. 

Contact us
Even with all the advice and tools we have provided here starting a foresight project from scratch can be a daunting prospect to a beginner. Let us know if you need help with this method or want a group facilitation exercise or full project or program carrying out by us. We promise to leave behind more internal knowledgeable people who can expand your initiative for better organizational performance.

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