If youâ€™re a small business owner or entrepreneur, being unique is a big deal. You want to be more desirable to your prospects than anyone else whoâ€™s offering what youâ€™re offering. You want to stand out. But you may have noticed itâ€™s harder than it sounds. Unless youâ€™re in a magical new market, there are already lots of people doing what you do.
You can try to:
- Beat them on qualityâ€¦but thereâ€™s always someone firmly cemented in the top spot, and fighting an opponent with the high ground ainâ€™t often a sustainable business model.
- Be cheaper than the competitionâ€¦but slimming down profit margins and attracting tire-kickers isnâ€™t really the way to wealth and success either.
- Offer some feature no one else is offeringâ€¦which is highly impossible in most markets, where everything buyers want is already being provided.
This all makes standing out rather hard. So what in the blue blazes do you do?
You Canâ€™t Follow the Standard Advice, Thatâ€™s for Sure
Business old schoolers tell you youâ€™re supposed to develop a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. They tell you to pick a benefit thatâ€™s different from what the competition is offering and dominate it. They tell you to advertise the hell out of it, to the point where you own that segment of the customerâ€™s mind.
Sounds great, but thereâ€™s only one problem: It doesnâ€™t work anymore.
The idea for the USP was invented in the 1940s to explain the success of advertising campaigns. Back then, there were substantially fewer advertisers than there are now, and it was much easier to find a unique benefit.
Not anymore. Now, the world is saturated with advertising, and simply being unique isnâ€™t enough. If you want to succeed, you need to go one better and develop something that will make you stand out as more desirable than any USP ever could.
The Next Generation of the Unique Selling Proposition
Original Mad Man David Ogilvy called it a “big idea”. He applied it specifically to advertisingâ€”but it works for all kinds of marketing platforms, especially websites. He said:
You will never win fame and fortune unless you also invent big ideas. It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.
Riiiiightâ€¦but what IS it?
â€œBig ideaâ€ sounds kind of vague to me, and also a bit grandiose. So I call it a motifâ€”because thatâ€™s exactly what it is: a central theme or idea which binds all of your marketing together. It forms a kind of foundation for your marketing identityâ€¦and makes you desirable to your prospects in a way that nothing else can.
But you canâ€™t just use any old theme or idea. You need some very specific elements. Four, actuallyâ€¦
It may not be sufficient, but it is necessary.. Thatâ€™s good news if youâ€™ve been reading this thinking, â€œI already have a USP that works well for me! Are you saying itâ€™s no good?!â€ No sir, I sure ainâ€™t. Itâ€™s perfect. But you can turn it into something even better, thatâ€™ll pull in prospects even harder. Most unique selling propositions are just â€œbig ideasâ€ waiting to be set free. If you donâ€™t have a USP, well donâ€™t worry. You can create a motif without one. I did. In a way, itâ€™ll become your USPâ€”but not as youâ€™d traditionally think of one.
This is the one thing most unique selling propositions are missing. Add it into the mix, and youâ€™ve got yourself a sellar motif. And if you havenâ€™t got a USP to work off, donâ€™t worry. Stories are everywhere. You can turn even the most boring things into gripping stories with a little bit of application. You probably have a dozen great stories up your sleeve right now, just waiting to be told, and donâ€™t even know it. Let me give you an example.
Have you heard of Saddleback Leather? No? Go ahead and check out their website. One of their core values is â€œquality built to last.â€ Not exactly a unique claim, eh? How many companies say something similar? Itâ€™s decidedly non-unique-selling-propositionish. But look how they turn this generic value into a motif. Check out their headline:
“Theyâ€™ll Fight Over It when Youâ€™re Dead”
Quality? “Theyâ€™ll fight over it”. People donâ€™t fight over rubbish.
Built to last? Itâ€™ll still be good enough to fight overâ€¦after youâ€™ve used it your whole life.
Motif? How can you resist leatherwork so good that in fifty years time, after youâ€™ve finally kicked the bucket, your relatives will be at each otherâ€™s throats for it?
This is a consummate motif. Notice how it puts a unique angle on an otherwise ordinary claim, while at the same time implying a story that engages your imagination.
What makes stories so mighty? Well, they play into some very powerful psychological triggers:
- They tie your product to more than the sum of its features or benefits. When you link your product to a story, youâ€™re linking it with something bigger than itself. Something which appeals to a deep part of us.
- They can engage your reader by getting him to empathize with characters, rather than simply evaluating features and benefits.
- By having him visualize things, you bypass the rational processing parts his brainâ€”and go straight to deeper, less critical centers.
- Good stories are inherently viral! Have you noticed how when you come across a story that appeals to you, the first thing you want to do is share it with someone else?
Another thing youâ€™ll notice about Saddleback Leatherâ€™s motif is that itâ€™s all said in a single sentence. This is another thing that sets motifs apart from other kinds of ideas. They must be simple. The best motifs make natural headlines, because they can be stated or summarized in a sentence or two. Now, you gotta be careful here. If you read any good marketing authorities (Brian Clark or Clayton Makepeace, for example), youâ€™ll know that headlines should emphasize real benefits. They should pass the â€œso whatâ€ test, or the â€œforehead-slapâ€ test. And if youâ€™re working out a headline that isnâ€™t going to be used in conjunction with a picture, thatâ€™s good advice.
But remember, a motif must contain a story. It should capture just one idea, and evoke one primary emotion in your prospect.
The interesting thing about uniqueness is how uninteresting it is. Everything is unique in some wayâ€”and the mere fact that your motif is also unique does nothing to ensure its success. It must go beyond uniqueness and surprise your prospect. When he first comes across it, he should pause for just a momentâ€”and then experience a tiny thrill. Now, be careful. Thereâ€™s a huge, inept industry in advertising built around being shocking or funnyâ€”as if entertaining people will provoke them to buy things.
It does the opposite. Cleverness for the sake of cleverness is nothing but creative masturbation, if youâ€™ll pardon my bluntness. Itâ€™s quickly appreciated, and quickly forgotten. Thereâ€™s no lasting appeal in being cutesy or comical. The surprise of a motif is not that kind of surprise. Rather, it comes from an unexpected combination of ideas. For Saddleback Leather, itâ€™s in taking a common guarantee and extrapolating it into a provocative picture. Finding a way to juxtapose two ideas is the first step in coming up with a mighty motif.
Written by: Neil PatelReads:3437