How to Write a Unique Selling Proposition

Brendan Schneider
5 min readJan 18, 2023
How to Write a Unique Selling Proposition

There are many options for schools out there, and parents are often need help with what school to choose for their children.

So how can your school differentiate itself from other schools?

Knowing the best way to position your school, and your programs, can be the difference between blending in with other schools and enrolling new students. This is why it’s so important for you to create a unique selling proposition that can help guide your marketing choices.

Keep reading because today’s blog post is going to tell you how you can come up with a truly compelling unique selling proposition, and that’s going to help you stand out against your competitors.

What Is a Unique Selling Proposition?

A unique selling proposition is the one thing that makes your school better than the other schools parents might be considering. It’s basically that specific benefit that makes your school stand out from the rest.

How To Find Your Unique Selling Proposition

So how do you find your competitive edge and how do you persuade parents to choose your school?

The first thing we have to understand is that, in the age of the internet, parents are drowning in a sea of options. So they just really want to quickly understand what makes one school better — or at least different — than another.

As school marketers, we need to respond to that need by coming up with our own unique selling proposition (USP). A USP should quickly answer a potential family’s most immediate question, and that is “What makes you different from the competition?”

How do we answer this question?

Your USP needs to play to your strengths, and it should be based on what makes your school valuable to your students and their families.

A compelling USP is:

  • Assertive
  • Defensible
  • Specific

Examples might be:

  • A legacy of academic excellence
  • A diverse and inclusive community
  • The pursuit of educational excellence
  • A dedicated learning experience
  • This experience will stick with you the rest of your life
  • Big changes and impressive transformations
  • Small enough to support the relationships that help students thrive

Remember, your USP should be focused on what your families value. The “unique” in unique selling proposition won’t really count for much if your target families don’t really care about your proposition. You have to make sure your proposition is targeted.

More Than Just a Slogan

Your USP needs to be more than just a slogan. It should be the meeting point between what your families want, what they need, and what your school does well.

Here’s a secret.

What your school offers doesn’t have to be unique, but the message you choose to focus on should be unique.

In other words, your programs could be the same as other private schools in your area, but if you have a different angle, then your unique selling proposition is what is doing all the heavy lifting for your marketing.

What a Unique Selling Proposition is Not

What a USP isn’t:

  • A specific offer, like “Submit your application by XX and receive 10% off your first month’s tuition”

This is not unique, and it’s not a position that is easy to defend because your competitor can easily copy it.

  • Header copy

A USP is not just the header copy on your homepage. It’s a position that your school takes as a whole, that can be incorporated into the overall experience you provide, and any touch point a parent has with your school. A USP is a holistic concept that gives a certain viewpoint of your school.

The Power of Storytelling in Articulating Your Unique Selling Proposition

One effective way of communicating your USP is through the power of storytelling. Storytelling can help schools make their USP memorable and persuasive. Think about the most iconic brands in the world and the stories they tell. North Face doesn’t just sell outdoor apparel; they sell the story of overcoming obstacles and becoming the best version of yourself. Apple doesn’t just sell computers; they sell the story of individual expression and creativity. Johnnie Walker isn’t just about whiskey; they sell the story of connection.

How to Create a Unique Selling Proposition for Your School

You might be wondering how to create a USP for your school. While every USP should be unique, there is a process you can use to help get your school on the right track.

  • List your specific differentiators

Make a list of all the potential differentiators of your school. Make sure your differentiators are specific. If you want to make memorable marketing messages, you need to be specific. This is because break out ideas solve the exact right problem and communicate that benefit to potential families in their own words.

  • Research the competition

Who are your competitors and what are their USPs? Then look for gaps where you could potentially introduce your school differently. Keep in mind schools who serve the same target families can be positioned in wildly different ways.

  • Compare your most unique ideas against your target family’s needs

Do your families perceive your school as meeting all of the needs of their students? Are there needs they believe they have that aren’t being met? Are there pain points your potential families have that maybe you can solve?

  • Apply your USP school-wide

Once you’ve settled on your USP, you’re going to want to think about ways you can apply it across your marketing. Look for ways to weave your USP into your marketing and other school messaging.

  • Express it as a statement

Sometimes it helps to express it as a statement so you can get it down on paper and understand it fully. Here’s a formula you can use:

[Your school’s name] offers [differentiator] for [target students] to [value proposition].

Example: [MiddleApple Private School] offers [a diverse, inclusive, close-knit community] for [middle school age students] who are looking for [exceptional academic performance].

Notice that this statement could be made about any number of private middle schools in America. It is very generic. But it becomes a USP when your school is committed to demonstrating how this statement is a part of every aspect of the school, when it becomes your school’s identity in a sense.

This formula won’t be exactly the wording you want to use in your messaging; you’re going to want to finesse the copy, but it should definitely help you clarify your USP.

Defining Your Competitive Edge

A USP isn’t just a persuasive line of copy on your homepage, it really is how your position and communicate the essence of your school to the world.

Remember, your programs don’t have to be unique in order to have a strong unique selling proposition. Instead, what you can do is look for an idea in the market that’s more or less untouched by the competition.

Coming up with your unique selling proposition is definitely an exciting part of being a school marketer. At this stage, you get to think about how you can stand out in your niche and really flex your creative muscles. Use the knowledge you’ve learned here today to create a unique selling proposition that will take your school to the next level.

Does your school have a USP? What process did you go through to determine your USP? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…



Brendan Schneider

Brendan is the Founder of SchneiderB Media, a digital marketing agency for schools, and the MarCom Society, a community for MarCom professionals at schools.