What Is Your Handmade Business's Secret Sauce - Or Differentiator?

What Is Your Handmade Business's Secret Sauce - Or Differentiator?

It's a crowded marketplace, does your business stand out? What makes your business different? It's time for you to create a unique selling proposition and really determine what sets your handmade business apart. Really figuring out what makes you truly different will help you become more memorable and drive more sales, without selling...

Have you googled your industry or product lately? One simple search on Etsy or Google will show you what you are up against. Because the market is so saturated with people doing the same thing. It's even more important for your small handmade business to stand out! Be memorable.

I want you to become a memorable, one-of-a-kind brand so that you can sell more and with a smaller marketing budget.

Take Inspiration From Big Brands

In today's marketplace, the leading brands know the importance of good design and clear messaging. In order for you to out perform your competition, YOUR BRAND has to have a clarified message and a strategy that puts you on top.

Toms Shoes - TOMS Shoes are quirky, comfy, light and inexpensive. The USP they crafted reads, "a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair you purchase."

FedEX - “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” FedEx promises fast and reliable freight service, and guarantees that your package will arrive by a certain time.

Dominos - "You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it's free." Whoa! A unique selling proposition and a guarantee!

Burger King - "Have it your way"

NyQuil - “The nighttime, coughing, achy, sniffling, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine”

Geico - “15 Minutes Could Save You 15 Percent or More on Car Insurance.”

Enterprise - “Pick Enterprise. We’ll Pick You Up.”

Saddleback Leather - “They’ll Fight Over it When You’re Dead.”

Target - “Expect More. Pay Less.”

What Exactly Is a USP?

Wikipedia always does a good job so here is what they say about a USP.

A unique selling proposition (USP) refers to the unique benefit exhibited by a company, service, product or brand that enables it to stand out from competitors.[3] The unique selling proposition must be a feature that highlights product benefits that are meaningful to consumers.

Creating a unique selling proposition or USP as I call it is one of the easiest ways you can begin to build your brand. This is what I like to call your secret sauce.

It's important that you figure out what ingredients are actually in your secret sauce so that you can use them to your advantage and if you don't have any idea as to what your secret sauce may be, it's time to invent one.

How Do I Create A USP?

  1. Analyze Your Competition
    Have you taken a look at your competition from your customers viewpoint. Get out of your head and really see your competitors for what they really are...stealing your marketshare. It's up to you to create a differentiator that will make you unique, memorable, dynamic, and desireable.
  2. Understand Your Current Customers Pain Points
    This one is simple...just ask your customers. Don't be afraid. Simply reach out to a few of your favorite and most frequent customers and ask them why they buy from you and not your competitors.
  3. Write Down Your Secret Ingredients
    Once you have a good idea of what your competitors look like, and what your customers pain points are you can begin to draft a few ideas.

Ways You Can Differentiate Your Handmade Business?

The differentiation strategy a business chooses will depend on its industry, competitive market, and the products or services it's selling but here are a few ways that you can differentiate your brand:


How is your product different? Do you use different materials, use a different process, or make something super unique?

Product differentiation is a strategy used by businesses to highlight the unique benefits and features of a product to differentiat it from competitors. In order to use this strategy you communicate these benefits consistently through your campaigns and promotions. Also known as a differentiation strategy, product differentiation is a method for companies to make their products stand out from competitors and captivate the attention of their customers. Eventually the company will develop a strong recognizable brand that will be chosen over non-branded competitors. Basicly product differentiating can be based on features, performance, style or design...

If you want to be a business that makes product differentiation work for your handmade products you have to have the following qualities:

  • Innovative
  • The resources and knowledge to create high-quality products
  • The ability and time to research, and develop new products
  • Marketing and sales strategies that feature the benefits and competitive advantage of the product or service


So this one can be an interesting differentiator if you sell a difficult product....this is a business model that sells items as a service that were traditionally sold as a product. So let's say you craft truly custom cabinetry or intricate ceramic tile, then you could offer to install the product as your service. Maybe you handcraft and engineer custom wood stoves so you start offering installation as part of your unique selling proposition. You could also sell your product along with event services. You could partner up with local catering businesses and offer to supply them with unique new pottery pieces for their food displays. This might be an interesting way to collaborate. You can also sell your knowledge of course and offer to do classes. Maybe you sell to local boutique stores and offer to stock their shelves and deliver new product every 6 weeks? Have you ever thought of leasing products? Maybe your customers like to switch things up so you offer a new piece of art every 6 months and they return the old? Who knows, just think differently. Service Differentiation is based on aspects such as speedy or careful delivery, opening hours, customer care etc.


So this option as a differentiator could simply be you sell only online, or in boutique locations, or through small home parties. Or heck, if you sell pottery maybe you sell your product only in small coffee shops.


Offer a truly unique technology or process. Perhaps you invented a new and proprietory process for firing clay? Or maybe you discovered a unique approach to metalsmithing. Whatever it may be you can build a business that offers a unique relationship to your customers.

Try an approach that is a whole different way of approaching the problem that offers a unique benefit to the client.

You can also specialize in serving special clients or a different industry. This can be a common differentiator but is sometimes overlooked. Perhaps you work with luxury resorts or luxury Dog boutiques and offer a unique line of very expensive dog collars if you are a jewelry designer...Or maybe you are build functional pottery for high end restaurants?

Specialize in clients that share a common characteristic.
Maybe you create products just for stay at home moms or you make custom hand sewn scrubs for pediatricians.


Image Differentiation refers to the image a company or a brand has in consumers’ minds. Whereas your visual identity comprises the ways that you want to position yourself and products in customers minds. Your image though is the way the public actually perceives your company or product. Sometimes what you think you are saying isn't actually what your customers hear.

What is your visual identity saying to your customers? Is it saying the right thing? Have you thought about what your brand in this way yet? The development of a strong and distinctive image requires creativity and a lot of work over a long period of time. If you want to attain a consistent identity it's important you design and develop one that can be harnessed from the very beginning. It's important to think about your visual identity because people are visual. There is no stronger type of differentiation. You have to build a personality around your brand so that you can be immediately recalled in the minds of your customers. If you want to differentiate your company by high quality, this image must be supported by absolutely everything your company does.

Perhaps you have been in the industry for a long time. Or perhaps doing things very differently feels risky. I see this all the time. Well, a very different look and feel can be a powerful differentiator for your business. Combine this with other differentiators and you have the makings of a robust competitive advantage. YES! I like that don't you?

For image differentiation to work, it must be conveyed through every available brand touchpoint, including logos, media, packaging, promotions, and special events.


Pricing can be an appropriate approach depending on what your goal is...If you are wanting to stand out as a leader in your marketplace, sometimes raising your prices will help and who doesn't like to make more for your goods. Although alternatively it's important not to out price yourself.

Craft Your USP With This Template:

  • For [Insert Your Target Audience]
  • Who need[Insert Your Product]
  • [Insert Your Business Name]
  • Is the world’s only [Insert Prduct and Target Audience]
  • That [Insert Differentiator].
  • Unlike [other companies],
  • [Insert Business Name] is [Insert Differentiator].

Keep Innovating!

I want to encourage you to just keep moving forward. I like to remind myself that Rome was never built in a day and neither are businesses. Give yourself a break and take a breath. You will get all of this stuff figured out.

Hey Follow Along On Youtube for more of my terribly glorious videos and get inspired!


About The Author

Heather Bunker works with makers and artisan entrepreneurs who want to build a professional and profitable brand. She provides brand strategy, design, and marketing services along with a friendly disposition and a bit of encouragement. She has been a designer and art lover for over 15 years and is an active member of the AIGA, the professional association for design. "Heather’s design trademark is her unique perspective and originality. For clients she delivers designs that capture both a unique brand image and the audience's attention. Spunky, bright, creative, and her blog is a joy to read." You can learn more about how her services can help grow your business by subscribing or connecting on Instagram.