Skip to content

What Is USP? (Part I)

Happiness is on the back of horse. 😛

The horse business is colossal: breeding, selling, training and owning horses. There are hundreds of different breeds in the world and just as many people wanting or dreaming of owning one. Out of all these thousands (if not millions) of horses, how does a person decide which horse is the one? The one that stands out from all the others?

How can a horse stand out from all the thousands of others?

What do new horse owners look for when they buy a horse? Is it a companion for long countryside treks? Is it a riding school stable looking for other horsey character traits? Investors are looking for something else – they hope to discover money-making winners. Thoroughbred winners for racing or tournaments. In every case, a new horse owner starts his search by looking out for unique abilities and qualities.

Price is not the first reason. Price comes second, third or even lower on the scale of importance.

We’re talking about USP… The unique selling point. The USP’s job is to Attract. To be exact, the USP job is two-fold: (a) Separation (b) Attraction.

[Once the USP has done its job (separate, attract) your job — or in this case, the horse’s job 🙂 — is to Convert.]

The USP And Its Two-Fold Job (Separation and Attraction)

The aim is to make a well-fitting match between a rider or investor, and the horse. How does the USP work? How can a rider find the right horse?

How does a student (rider or investor) find the right freelance teacher (the horse)?

The USP attracts by narrowing the riders search from thousands of other horses to just a few, and then separates all the horses to just one. The Unique Selling Point of a Derby winner, for example, is going to be very different to the Unique Selling Point of a horse-riding companion suitable for long countryside treks.

As a freelance teacher, you need to separate your niche (area of teaching), your qualities, your specialisation and your expertise, from other freelance teachers in your branch. You need to become visible.

Unique means One.
One unique selling point.
One unique selling point = visibility.

You need to breakdown your work into the one focal point; the reason of your work or the one focal point of why you do what you do. The USP is the single quality, or the single ability/expertise, or the single character trait that makes you stand out (unique). Unique gives visibility. You become visible in your teaching niche.

The most visible point on a pyramid is the single stone perched on its apex. It draws the eye. On the other hand, the pyramid base with its many look-alike stone blocks is overlooked and forgotten. A USP strives for that visibility.

After The USP – Your Job Is Conversion

The visibility is that focal point that separates the one from many. In our example, an investor has narrowed his search from all horses down to young thoroughbreds; each with a heritage of Derby winners.

A heritage of past winners usually hallmarks a future Derby winner. The USP has done its job. It has attracted the investor and separated all look-alike horses down to throughbreds with Derby winner heritages. But the horse still needs to prove its speed, willingness, agility, and the strength of his legs in a trial race. He has to convince the investor he is the next Derby winner. The final choice and the closing sale will never take place without the final proof – the proof that converts. Only the horse can give it.

The gleam in a horse’s eye that shows character and converts

The gleam in a horse’s eye that shows character and converts

The proof lies in the gleam of his eye. The gleam that shows temperament and courage. A gleam that shows character and makes the horse “mine”. A gleam that convinces the investor he can win the next Derby.

In its splendid isolation at the top of the pyramid, the gleam shone and separated this one horse from the others. Convinced — the investor buys.

Like the horse, a teacher has to work on his USP if he wants students and customers to buy his teaching services. A horse, however, is not a teacher. 😆

For example, let’s take an art teacher. There are thousands of freelance art teachers in the world. What could be their unique selling point (USP)? How can they separate their teaching services and stand out from other freelance art teachers?

The USP of a freelance art teacher

Art covers many mediums and forms, such as pottery, sculpture, carving, mosaics, etc. However, our freelance art teacher (you 😉 ) simply teaches students and customers to paint.

Let’s narrow this down… You don’t paint in oils or pastels or any other paint mediums. You paint watercolours. Exclusively. Further, your style is abstract, not conventional.

Your freelance teaching service focus (USP) could be “abstract watercolour painting techniques”.

Your USP is not going to attract a student looking to learn how to paint water scenes, boats and harbours in oils or pastels. You will, however, attract every student who wants to learn how to paint abstract pictures using the watercolour medium. (You’ll also attract every customer who is looking to purchase abstract aquarelle paintings…) The conversion is when you can support your claims and show “the gleam” in your eye. Your enthusiasm, your energy and your expertise in your metier.

What about those students who want to learn oil painting? Have you lost these students and customers forever? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Tastes and interests change with time and they may be back – if your USP was strong and focused enough to remain in their memories.

Can a USP cause you to lose potential students and customers?

Is there a chance of losing customers by having a too narrow USP? Well… Yes, you will. Consider it an advantage. A focused USP is going to save your time, nerves and money.

You only lose those students and customers you have no interest to work with because the student is not interested in what you teach.

Students who are not interested in your area of teaching, cost you your nerves and time. These students are never going to bring the gleam to your eye. The gleam that only glows when your interest is engaged and your motivation to work and teach is at its highest. When it’s fun to teach.

Many freelance teachers survive without defining and marketing their USP. They hope the next student is just around the corner. Remember the pyramid base described earlier? Rows of look-alike stone blocks? You can choose to sink into the depths of hopeful sameness, or you can choose to gain visibility and spotlight your freelance teacher services on top of a pyramid.


What the USP is…

USP is an acronym for Unique Selling Point.

Unique means One. One unique selling point.

The USP’s job is to Attract. To be exact, the USP has two parts to its job. (a) to Separate and (b) to Attract.

What the USP is not…

The USP job is to attract students and customers to your services and products. Its job is to raise your services and products out of anonymity. Price is not the first reason. Price comes second, third or even lower on the scale of importance.

Once the USP has attracted potential students and customers, your job is to support the claims made in your USP. The USP work is not to convert. The Freelance Teacher himself is the person who must convert the interest into a sale.

Additional USP advantages:

  • A focused USP filters out all uninterested students and customers from the beginning. They don’t use up your time and patience in explaining what kind of lessons you do give. (e.g. watercolours versus oil painting)
  • A focused USP filters out all uninterested students and customers from those who do have an interest in what you offer to teach. These students are motivated from the start and want to learn. Motivated students, as we know, are easier to work with, and it’s more fun to work with them.
    It’s the basis of a prosperous student-teacher relationship.
  • A focused USP saves you money in your current and future earnings. Reluctant students don’t give referrals. Unhappy teachers are unmotivated to teach. Unfortunately, this situation if left to get out of hand, can escalate and damage your reputation and your future earning potentials.

Your Next Step

Develop a USP for your teaching services:

  • What part of your teaching work brings a gleam to your eye? What part interests you so much you never notice how time flies?
  • When you have pinpointed your interest and focus, think of the art teacher and his USP “abstract watercolour painting techniques”. Break down your own teaching work into a single, focused point.


What Do You Think?

Do you have something you would like to add or say about USP? Add your comments and suggestions in Leave A Reply Comment box below…

2 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. Dear Janine,
    Thank you so much for your advice. I feel like you’re in the room with me guiding me on my journey to becoming a successful freelancer!

Leave a Reply to Cara Leopold Cancel reply

Get a Gravatar! Your Name

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.


  • Newsletter (it’s free)

    You’ll receive information, ideas and tips, as well as simple and practical methods (with step-by-step instructions) on becoming an entrepreneurial freelance teacher in a professionally ethical and legal manner.

    Subscribe for the newsletter and receive your first free eReport:
    How To Find Customers And Students”.

    Emails are once every month (1st of each month).

    Newsletter Subscription