Value Propositions Are Experienced Not Stated

Oct 28, 2010 | Brand Differentiation

You don’t have to tell your customers why they should buy. Let them make up their own minds.

The idea of the unique selling proposition, or USP, has been around for over 60 years. It was a phrase coined by Rosser Reeves, the legendary advertising exec of the Ted Bates agency. He’s also the guy Don Draper’s character of Mad Men is modeled after.

Reeves believed the point of advertising is to sell. The unique selling proposition was his strategy to identify a key point of differentiation in a product and distil it down to a single phrase. For example, Reeves oversaw the development of M&M’s slogan, “Melt in your mouth, not in your hands.”

Buyers are too skeptical to fall for USP’s

The USP was an effective strategy in a kinder, simpler time. After a century of advertising, we have been conditioned to question ads and sales people. It’s hard to take a company at its word when you know they are only trying to sell you.

As a result, leading companies are changing how they sell. Where is the unique selling proposition on or You don’t see Apple stating, “We design remarkable, easy to use, and aesthetically pleasing consumer electronics.” Rather you experience that claim.

The Apple Store is a remarkable concept when you compare it to traditional electronics retailers. There are no pushy sales people, and you can touch everything without feeling guilty. Apple has created an inviting environment that invites consumers to experience their products on their own terms. You can play a game on an iTouch, browse on an iPad, or check out the latest Macbook Air (it’s so pretty!). Apple lets you try their products out, and if you have a question one of the Apple Associates will be happy to assist you.

Consumers love the Apple Stores. They always have line ups as people tinker with the products. What’s even more remarkable are these people are proactively spending money. They aren’t being sold, they’re buying. Why? Apple understands their value proposition speaks for itself. They don’t have to sell, because the experience says it all.

Bottle your core differentiator

Examine your unique selling proposition. What are you telling your customers? Does your USP clearly explain what sets your company apart, what makes it unique and how you bring value to your customers? If so, that’s a great start.

Push your USP further. How can you convey your core value proposition and core differentiators without words? Tough question, but a powerful one.

Rather than telling your customers what makes you unique, help them experience it. Let them make up their own minds, and associate value to your products or services. An experiential value proposition is far more powerful than words, and one that is very hard to compete with.

I welcome your comments.  What’s your take?

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Jeremy Miller

Top 30 Brand Guru

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