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If there is one major complaint I hear most from of our copywriting clients, it’s that they don’t know what their UCA is or how to define it. Your unique competitive advantage is the thing (or at least one of the things) that sets you apart from your competition. Is it the same as a unique selling proposition (USP)? Not really.

A USP is designed to sell something. Many times, though, the copy you write doesn’t have a sales intent. But it will always need to stand out from the crowd that is trying to accomplish the same things you are.

What Does it Take to Differentiate?

Most people get bogged down when trying to come up with an entire list of differentiating factors. The simple truth is that it only takes one element to set you apart. That’s all… just one.

Think of the most successful ad or branding campaigns you remember. I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of those focused on one thing. For instance, what do you think of when I mention:


Sherwin Williams paint?

Apple computers?

Each one is known for something very specific. Walmart offers low prices every day. Sherwin Williams paint has carved a niche based on quality. Apple computers is most definitely all about innovation.

This is what sets them apart from all the others in the marketplace.

So, what’s YOUR UCA? That’s the question that stumps just about everybody and it is specifically why I included an entire section with 28 ways to develop your unique competitive advantage in my Step-by-Step Copywriting Course.

Let’s take a look at a few of them here.

Quality – Make yours the very best _________ available without question and you’ll attract people who demand excellence and are willing to pay for it. This will position you as the head of the pack – the company that sets the bar for all others. What Sherwin Williams has done with paint, you can do in your industry.

Low Price – Just like Walmart, you can take a low price-high volume approach to your own business. Undercut your competition in order to sell more you’ll get kudos from penny pinchers and those who shop for bargains out of necessity.

What about something more specific?

Free shipping & free returns – This is huge. If you want to win friends fast, drop the shipping and offer free returns.

Specialized inventory – Rather than competing with the rest of the world to bring the most popular items to the marketplace, only deliver highly specialized ones. For instance, instead of carrying every auto part known to man, offer a specialized inventory of hard-to-find parts only for muscle cars, etc.

Ingredients – Be choosy when you create the foods you sell. Rather than following the pack, opt for organic ingredients, free-range meats and/or gluten-free products to set yourself apart.

One of the best ways to nail down your UCA is to ask your customers what they want. “What do you really wish someone in our industry would do/create/change?” can be a powerful question that brings about a ton of differentiating ideas. Give it a try see the ways you come up with to set yourself apart.

Karon Thackston

About Our GE Network Expert - Karon Thackston

Karon Thackston is President of Marketing Words (, a full-service copywriting agency specializing in web and search engine copywriting. She has over 25 years combined experience in marketing, advertising, copywriting and SEO copywriting. Karon has a strong understanding of the processes involved with creating successful advertising strategies.



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