In today’s marketplace, me-tooism is the predominant competitive force. Sad but true. Most companies imitate, in hopes of cashing in on their competitors’ successes. But me-too products are inherently undifferentiated. Guess what this means for you? That’s right. It’s a great time to innovate and differentiate!
When to Innovate and Differentiate
If you’re going to imitate, you had better count on having a ton of money to sink into promotion, or more to the point, out-promoting your competition. Microsoft is perhaps the most obvious example of this me-too breed of brands. Microsoft does not innovate and never has, despite advertising claims to the contrary. Microsoft copies its competitors. Or buys them out. Or, failing all else, forces them out of business. They dominate not by being different, but by unleashing a rip tide of advertising money to drown out their rivals. Their differentiating attribute is: monopoly. But no monopoly lasts forever. Just ask Ma Bell or At&T.
The USP is Going Away
You cannot rely on your brand’s USP anymore to close the sale. Every brand competing against yours claims to have a unique selling proposition. And you cannot rely solely on your brand’s past reputation. Your prospects do not care about yesterday. They demand to know what have you done for them lately? And what can you do for them right now. How will you make their lives better? Authentic branding always answers the question: How will this make my life better?
Marketing today is not about selling.
It is about educating and how-to.
With more brands than ever before, customers have multiple choices, and more control. They determine what will make their lives better, and which product is the right one to do it. You help them make that choice by connecting to them on an emotional level and educating them about the product, the service, the industry…and WHY your product.
How to Shift to a UPP
Winning mindshare and heartshare is critical to gaining long-term equity, profits and growth. You win mindshare and heartshare by clearly communicating to your prospects what they should know and care about with respect to your product or service, and why they should trust your brand. Trust + clear communication (brand promise and education) is the ultimate shortcut to closing the sale.
To accomplish this feat, you must go beyond the USP to the UPP (Unique Purchase Proposition).
You move from selling to educating and empowering your prospect. It shifts the spotlight from the product or service to the experience of the customer.
In the new economy, a brand becomes a unique purchase proposition through education.
Crafting your UPP requires focusing on the subtle and sometimes overlooked why factors of a particular buying decision.
CASE STUDY: Curad wanted to take on Band-Aid’s brand in the adhesive bandages market. So they launched a line of bandages with cartoon characters printed on them. Kids, who comprise the largest consumer base of bandage users, loved them. They were practically a fashion statement, a collectible. It was a small but innovative differentiating attribute that directly emotionally appealed to the hearts and minds of the target consumer. As a result, Curad stole a chunk of the market from brand leader Band-Aid.
The UPP is essentially a unique value proposition. Because what is a value? It’s an intellectual and emotional “truth”–a bond–for and with the consumer. Product benefits still matter, of course. If you want (need) to buy a watch that is waterproof, you are going to buy a watch that has that feature and benefit.
But the customer perception of value extends beyond the function benefits. It can be enhanced by many attributes of your organization, such as your brand’s personality, your industry reputation, your product and promotional design, and even your brand symbol (hello, Nike).
You want people to fall in love with your brand and bond with it through trust.
Otaku and Brand Appeal
The Japanese term otaku has been used in the context of brand appeal. Otaku describes a drive that is more compelling than a hobby but a little less than an obsession. A craving? Compulsion? The distinctions probably are not important. What is important is that it drives customers to your brand.
EXAMPLES: Thousands of people camp out overnight at a concert ticket outlet so they will be first in line the next morning when tickets go on sale. Or thousands of people camp out overnight in an Apple Store to guarantee they will get iPhones the second they become available. These are customers with otaku.
Today’s consumer often seeks instant gratification, especially the consumer with otaku. Can you inspire otaku through your UPP?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does my brand convey instantly the unique purchase proposition in today’s market climate?
- Does my brand provoke instant recall and recognition in the customer’s heart and mind?