We all tend to be fast learners and quick forgetters. When a prospective client asked our advice about where to spend his marketing budget, we thought, “It’s time we reminded everyone to keep the main thing the main thing.” Call it “Unique Selling Proposition.” Nickname it “USP.” Essentially, if it looks and sounds like everyone else’s, it won’t work. And if it looks and sounds like advertising, it’ll be tuned out faster than you can say, “Helpful, friendly staff members.”
Stop putting the cart before the horse on how to reach your customers and prospects. That’s not the most important part. It doesn’t matter if you have the budget for traditional mass media, like radio or TV, or if you’re doing what you can with SEO, pay-per-click, Facebook, and AdWords. Every outreach to your client, every touchpoint, has to, has to, has to spring from your Story.
You Can’t Spell “Original” without “Origin”
Even if you are part of a franchised name, there is still a core reason why you first went into business. Was it something you wanted to change about the marketplace? Was there something you did better than anyone else? Did you find inspiration from a mentor like your dad or your uncle? Go back to why you chose the path you did, and you just might stumble upon the treasure trove known as your origin story.
Follow the dominoes of your origin story as they tumble:
- An origin story informs your core values.
- Those core values let your customers know what is important to you.
- When customers find something in common with you, they include you in their tribe.
- They prefer your business over others because of what you believe.
- They recommend you to their friends.
- You are more successful.
Springing from your origin story is what we call “brandable chunks.” Stronger than mere slogans, “brandable chunks” are words and phrases you can say that none of your competitors can. That’s because they are born from your company’s exclusive DNA. These words and phrases are then woven through every mouthpiece you use to reach clients: your website content, keywords, direct mail, directory listings, mass-media campaigns, and the like.
The trouble is you only think you know what makes you different. It’s that catchphrase you bought. It’s that slogan you borrowed from someone in your Mastermind group from another market. It’s that generic jingle that the radio station whipped up for you from one of their music beds. Trust us: These will only get you so far before your message blends in with all the other noise. You need to go treasure hunting. Find the gold nuggets so you can cash in as you make yourself indispensable to your customers.
We’ve been diligently developing ways to teach clients how to present relevant, credible information. We have been assisting them in telling their story in “brandable chunks,” and trust us – you can kill a lot of birds with one of these chunks, provided you are deliberate and consistent in how you use them.
Your marketing works better once you have something original to say.
What’s Your Sizzle?
Once that story is told, then what? Well, just like when you get to know people in your social circle, you learn more about them.
Here’s an example:
So many roofing companies can’t wait for that hailstorm that will turn their business around. HVAC companies hope for that heatwave. For plumbers, it might be that cold snap, and for electricians, that wild electrical storm. They’re waiting for a disaster, and Mother Nature, to make them the homeowner’s top choice for the service they provide. But chasing after business factors outside of your control is like yelling at clouds. Your goal, instead, should be to make your company the year-round preferred choice—to be the company they recognize first and feel the best about. That’s done with your branding. But so often, companies fall into the trap of believing that all you need to brand is a USP, a “unique selling proposition.” But very few “selling propositions” are unique in your customers’ perception.
Some companies post their core values on their homepage, hoping to set themselves apart from competitors. After all, “we have a combined experience of umpteen years! We’re family-focused and caring!” But are those qualities truly unique to just your company, or are they relatively mainstream? Can you be more specific about your passions and, yes, even your flaws so that your tribe can find and bond with you? In other words, the “U” in USP has to be “YOU.” Once you advertise that, selling to the customer often takes care of itself because they recognize a bit of themselves. We recently wrote a conversational script for one of our clients about the particular way one of the owners preferred his bacon. This was a bit of a tough sell when presenting the script. What the heck did bacon have to do with being the preferred roofing company? Despite their doubts, they trusted us, recorded it, put it on the radio, and even created a YouTube video with basically the same content.
Here’s that copyrighted script:
HE: What’s better than breakfast tacos?
SHE: Eating breakfast tacos on a ROOF.
HE: A terrific view – with BACON? Yes, please!
SHE: But y’know how not everybody cooks bacon the same way?
HE: Limp … instead of crisp?
SHE: Not every company approaches working on your roof the same as (Name of Business).
HE: Gotta have that recipe.
SHE: A careful process, quality materials, and perfect timing – that’s the secret sauce.
HE: Mmmm…maple syrup.
SHE: Now I’M hungry!
HE: (Name of business; slogan)
Then the hailstorm hit. That’s not a metaphor — it was a physical manifestation of baseball-sized “diamonds from the sky.” The phones went nuts. Temporary help was hired for the backlog. And references to “that bacon ad” started sizzling up over and over again. The bacon debate only added to the “realness” of the company owners. We didn’t need to tell the public that this company is family-owned, we showed them: “This couple is just like us! They disagree on bacon!”
That’s better than branding; it’s bonding. Do we still emphasize the consistent use of a logo, slogan, color palette, font, and music? Of course. But that’s a style guide. Those elements assist in helping the customer recognize your brand. When it comes to bonding, though, you’ve got to promote yourself as “real,” with all the flaws and imperfections that make people group together with an unbreakable connection. That’s when your unique characteristics pay off; not just when disaster strikes or discomfort makes the customer seek you out. The magic happens when you don’t have to “sell” them or proposition them at all. They already like you for being “U.”