Home > Articles

📄 Contents

  1. Death of E-Tailing: Myth or Fact?
  2. Building Your USP: Four P's
  • Print
  • + Share This
Like this article? We recommend

Building Your USP: Four P's

A recent article of mine for InformIT (called "What's Your USP?") covered what a USP is and how to create one. I explained that a business must know what they offer a customer—something other than general statements like "Buy from us because we're the best." What makes the company unique in the marketplace and in the eyes of a potential customer? In other words, what gives your company a unique advantage over your competition and consumers a distinct reason to buy from you? A well-thought-out USP and its execution can portray in the consumer's mind a compelling image of what your business will do for them that others cannot.

A good USP is specific, measurable, and conveys a customer benefit. In particular, it defines and creates a niche market.

So how do you create a good USP? By keeping the 4 P's in mind:

  • Pricing
  • Positioning
  • Packaging
  • Promotion

Here are some examples from e-tailers in my database of recommended links that use one of the 4Ps to differentiate themselves from the competition and create a niche market.


Let's take pricing first as a niche market. Next to personal web pages, the second most popular type of web site on the Net is the gift basket store. In the e-commerce world, it's hard not to point your mouse and hit one of these gift sites. Now, if you're in the market for a gift basket, looking for the right one for the right person at the right price can be quite a challenge. You can quickly become confused by the thousands of gift baskets from the hundreds of online stores available to you.

Search Gift Baskets.com was created to alleviate that problem and hours of surfing the Internet looking for gifts baskets at the price you want to pay. The site makes it easier to locate a company nearest your delivery destination so you can save money on shipping costs to your out-of-town family, friends, or business associates—or find one in your own home town for your local gift-giving needs. At the site, you can search for gift sites by state, town, or zip code, or by company name.

An e-tailer that chose price as their differentiator is Quality Brand Outlet.com. They're a liquidator for several of the largest mail order footwear companies in America. They sell famous-name brands as well as regular and hard-to-find sizes and widths—at up to 60% off the original retail price. Here's another example. SalesHound tracks advertised deals at more than 140,000 stores nationwide, with more than 22,000 sales every week. The SalesHound staff sniffs out sale information from all over the continental U.S., seven days a week. Advertised sales are collected not from online but from newspapers and/or advertising/promotional material submitted directly by retailers.


Our next USP tactic is positioning. Using positioning, a business focuses on one particular market niche or a unique segment of the population. Here are some examples from my web site that position themselves superbly.

One of the small annoyances in life is when a light bulb goes out—then you have to find a replacement. That's where Bulbs.com have positioned themselves. At Bulbs.com, you can buy all kinds of light bulbs. Little ones, fat ones, tall ones, blinky ones—and at all kinds of wattages. And if you have questions about light bulbs, you can ask "Dr. Bulb."

Another e-tailer positioned in a niche market is e2u. Their USP? They get down to basics. They sell three-dimensional underwear, ergonomically engineered to accommodate a man's contours. Their back-to-basics underwear is designed for active businessmen and athletes, and engineered to specifications developed by a team of doctors and sports medicine specialists to provide one thing—support and comfort.

You don't even have to sell a product to position your company in a market niche. You can build a USP off of someone else's product. That's what David Wilson did. D. Wilson's Vinyl & Resin Model Kits sells both completed models and services to assemble and paint models (vinyl or resin) that others have bought but don't have the tools or desire to put together. As Wilson notes on his home page, "Whether you want Superman on your shelf, or Barb Wire in your shop," he'll bring the model kits to life.

Two other small mom-and-pop shops that position themselves in a unique market niche:

  • BunnyLuv offers a nice selection of rabbit care supplies, toys, hay, food, and grooming tools.

  • Houndz in the Hood sells coats for dachshunds, whippets, miniatures, and Italian greyhounds.

As you can see, you can run with the big dogs of e-commerce if you choose your product or service well and position yourself properly in that category.


Packaging involves taking a product that others sell and repackaging it in a new way. Here are some examples from my web site.

With the dot-coms continuing to watch their pennies, free shipping is getting harder to find. But Freeshipping.com offers a single, convenient location where consumers and businesses can shop for top brand-name products exclusively with free shipping and handling. As an online shopping portal dedicated to 100% free shipping, Freeshipping.com provides access to more than 1,200 online stores with exclusive free shipping deals.

Another example is DigiCHOICE. This small e-tailer offers a wide selection of products that you can personalize to your taste. Want to personally design apparel? You can do it here. Want to create your own wine label? That too. They cover the gamut. Categories of personalized products include musical instruments, sports accessories, gifts, games, home and garden products, and more.


Finally, there's promotion. E-tailers who use this method as their USP look for the promotional possibilities of their product or service or tie them in with a season or holiday where they can benefit from the promotional activities and mind share of consumers that already exist at that time of year.

Waving the American flag has become very popular these days, and some e-tailers are capitalizing on the trend. At American Flag & Gift, you can buy any size American flag or banner you want—and flagpoles, too, as well as other patriotic items. And at Flags-etc.com, you can buy both outdoor and indoor American flags, banners, windsocks, and accessories.

And here's a good example of using promotion to set a business apart from the competition. Love the get-up that Britney Spears wore at her last concert? Or maybe that retro male necklace of Austin Powers? Want to buy them? At asSeenonScreen.com, you can actually buy what they're wearing. asSeenonScreen.com features TV and film memorabilia that you can buy from their site. You can search by film title, TV title, or by a celebrity's name.

One final thought: Whatever you promise in your unique selling position, be sure you deliver on it. Don't make the mistake of adopting a USP that you can't fulfill.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020