Archive for April, 2014

A Yawn? You think I’m a Yawn?

DATE: April 2nd, 2014

Bette Midler said: Cherish forever what makes you unique, ‘cuz you’re really a yawn if it goes.”

In marketing, we call it your Unique Selling Proposition. Defining your USP is the most important thing you can do as a company or non-profit. There are a million blogs out there defining USP, giving you 10 steps to defining your USP and , one I like the best, suggesting you should “Take 15 minutes to find your winning difference…”

Whether you call it USP or your unique brand identity, it is critical that you identify that integral uniqueness. Brand success requires differentiation, delight, direct benefit.

There are inherent challenges that block our success:

  1. Your product is not unique
  2. The benefit is articulated inside out rather than outside in
  3. You have defined the features of the product rather than the benefits

When we come face-to-face with a great USP it seems easy. And there are many great examples of amazing brand and unique selling proposition. Take Man Crates. First of all, the name is an actual and authentic description of their product. Secondly, they know who they are and publically publish their manifesto – a direct promise to their customers:

We say ‘no’ to ugly neckties, cologne samplers and executive trinkets. We don’t save wrapping paper, we don’t do ribbons.

We ship bragworthy gifts for guys. Gifts that you can’t wait to arrive because you know the recipient will love opening them.

Gifts that people gather round at the office, people following the sounds of wood being torn from wood by the included, laser-engraved crowbar.

We are Man Crates, and we deliver awesome gifts for men.

Their USP not only positions them to their customer, it determines their line of products and the contents, defines its audience and provides the creative brief for their product packaging. The strength of their brand empowers their sales.

Tom’s Shoes in another great example. They are one-to-one: you buy a pair of shoes, they give a pair of shoes to a child, youth or adult living in poverty. When they introduced their line of sunglasses, they maintained their promise. You buy a pair of sunglasses and we donate the cost of an eye surgery. Tom’s Shoes unique selling proposition defines them, imagines new products and sets them apart from every other shoe company.

In both of these examples, the product is not unique. One delivers gift packages to people who we want to give gifts to – thousands of companies do that – including Amazon. But their benefit – a gift men want in a manly package – sets them apart and makes them memorable. They define their brand from the point of view of the customer. They know their customer wants to give the men in their lives gifts that stand apart, authenticated their manliness. The company clearly defines the benefits – the man won’t get a tie or a shirt, he will have bragging rights AND he will cause a stir as his manly strength breaks open a wooden crate. There is no apologize for blatantly stereotyping a “man’s man” and people jarred by the cultural assumptions are not their audience.

Tom’s Shoes sells shoes. There are many, many companies that sell shoes. The benefit of buying shoes from Tom’s is that you know that you are helping someone with your purchase. That is not a feature of the shoe, although the features and materials in the shoe reflect their overall “we’re good for the world” stance. The benefit is that the customer goes beyond a shoe into social justice when they become a friend of Tom’s Shoes. The brand builds loyalty and affinity with its unique selling proposition.

The key to developing a Unique Selling Proposition is to KNOW your customers. One of the most often repeated flaws in marketing is to assume that everyone is your customer. That’s simply not true. If you target everyone, you weaken your brand personality. The other flaw is to assume your customer is exactly like you. Also not true.

Instead of standing in a mirror, you need to stand in the shoes of your audience and understand what they see when they see you, instead of what you see. And you want them to see the difference straightaway, because you’re really a yawn if it goes.