“What important truth do very few people agree with you on?”
This is Peter Thiel’s favorite interview question, and it’s brilliant.
And what I’d suggest is that you ever so slightly modify it to:
What important truth about your industry do very few people agree with you on?
Note that your answer has to be:
- Important, as in relevant to the customer
- True, and
- Counter to Conventional Wisdom (In Your Industry)
Nail that question, and you’ll have the beginnings of a very powerful branding campaign.
Because what you’ll have is a potential “advocated position” for your company.
Bonus points if you can name several of these truths.
For example, Spence Diamonds would answer that question with the following:
- Paying for greater clarity than can be detected with the naked eye is foolish, when what really drives a diamond’s brilliance is cut.
- Most grading certificates are fraudulent and not worth the paper they’re printed on, you’re better off doing business with a jeweler you can trust than relying on a third party’s supposed objectivity.
- You should be able to clearly see the prices on all the rings you’re browsing for, so you don’t have to awkwardly ask staff for prices
- Your beloved’s engagement ring should be made just for her, so that hers is the first and only finger that ever wears it.
- Jewelers should guarantee their stones and rings unconditionally — even to the point of replacing the stone should it ever come loose and buying back the stone at any point should you wish to trade it in, or upgrade it.
That’s a pretty powerful set of statements, right?
But this works for any industry. Another great example of this is Safer Home Services in Pest Control. Their answers to that question might look like:
- Spraying contact poison inside the home is a shameful practice that’s both ineffective at preventing intrusion by pests, and potentially harmful to pets and kids.
- Pest-control treatment should only require one treatment per year if it’s done properly. Monthly or quarterly spraying is the sign of amateurs who don’t know what they’re doing.
- Most household pests don’t live inside the home — they come in for food or shelter — so it’s important to prevent entrance to the home AND to eliminate the real “homes” for pests outside in the yard.
- A Pest Control company that won’t guarantee their work isn’t worth using. We guarantee no more bugs for a year.
And for a third example, I’ll use Miller’s Home Comfort, whose answers might sound like:
- When corporate, franchised, or equity-owned heating and cooling companies run things by the numbers, they end up short-changing their customers and squeezing their employees.
- Routinely pushing repairs over replacements in systems younger than 11 years old is a bane of the industry and represents a dishonest approach to business.
- Install teams shouldn’t install more than one system per day so that they can do the job properly.
- The quality of the installation is more important than the brand name or even the specs of the equipment.
Do you see how this makes for powerful branding?
I’m not saying this is the only way to brand, or that you can’t have an amazing campaign if you can’t come up with satisfying answers to Thiel’s question.
But I am saying that having great answers to that question provides an express road to powerful branding.
So let me ask you:
What important truths about your industry do very few people agree with you on?
Do you have solid answers to that question?
And are planting your flag around them in your ads?
If not, why not?