Let me ask you three simple, yet essential questions about the sustainability of your brand:
Is your brand's destiny based on your USP- your Unique Selling Proposition? If so, is it truly unique and defendable?
Do you own a positive, meaningful and enduring position in your customer's heart, a place I am calling your UEP your Unique Emotional Proposition?
Are your messages transformative and positive or relentless and transactional? In other words, are you valued or forced to sell on value.
The customer is a promiscuous, expert treasure hunter, with apps and an appetite to game your margins.
We have created a promiscuous customer with our relentless pounding of activation deals, free prizes inside, offers and sales that extend 365 days a year. Consumers today are expert treasure hunters with apps and an appetite to game your margins.
Each time you make an offer you are eroding your brand equity. So how do you shore up your brand's banks? How do you regain your customer's loyalty? How do you become valued again instead of having to always sell on value? Is it with your USP, your unique selling proposition?
For the vast majority, not a chance.
The days of establishing and defending your (USP) - as your reason for the consumer to buy, are over, and it's not your fault. It's a math problem no one can scale but it is tilted to the extreme. Too much and too many are chasing a finite amount of time and demand. Categories are crowded and complex, and the slight nuances that brands claim might look significant on a competitive map, but to the consumer, most drift together in a sea of sameness churning with promotional messages. Your brand, the entire category goes from being valued to selling on value and from floating to drowning in sameness.
Let's take the luxury auto segment for a test drive to see how crowded things really are.
I am not talking about dish detergent. I see brand equity eroding everywhere and I will prove it. Let’s take a test drive through one of the most resilient and exciting brand categories over the past 20 years, the luxury automotive segment. This category is premium-priced, premium-margin and aspirational and has attracted trillions of dollars in capital to launch new
models, build high-rise retail palaces with elevators, they have patented new technologies, and they aggressively spend across all media.
Can exclusivity and scarcity happen on a crowded street?
All of this investment in new models have stripped away scarcity and a plethora of entry-level models has taken away exclusivity.
Add to the crowded roads new entrants like Genesis that offer more for less, disruptors like Tesla plugging into the new zeitgeist and then shift into CLUTCH, Uber, Flex Drive, Turo, and many others who are redefining car ownership through Subscription, Sharing or Lending.
"Ultimate" means very different things to very different people
Let's look at one of my favourite brands. BMW – the Ultimate Driving Machine. A clever tagline, exceptional products, but what does ultimate mean for each buyer? Is ultimate status, convenience, resale value, performance, safety, a chariot for work or weekend adventures? Is it that my maintenance is included or the run-flat tires? Ultimate means very different things to very different people.
If my brand disappeared tomorrow, would it matter?
If Luxury Auto is starting to spin its wheels to perpetual discounting, what about the category you compete in? Ask yourself, if my brand disappeared tomorrow, would my customer miss me? So how does Marketing and Sales counter? You need to engage with the heart of whoever matters most to you customers, employees, influencers, investors. To do so requires an investment in what I am branding your (UEP) - your Unique Emotional Proposition. Win over their heart, to win their loyalty.
My 5 Steps to establishing and defending your UEP are simple, affordable, and work in tandem with your marketing and sales initiatives.
You can do them in-house or with our agency.
My one caveat is that these steps only work if your brand offers something meaningful or experiential for your customer, versus purely functional.
Brands that offer solutions to help people with their finances, get healthy, escape, pursue, create are ideal. Here are my steps. Start small, measure, and when they start to work shift more of your dollars there. Move away from segmenting based on demographics where you are obsessed with target audience age, income, gender, ethnicity, geography, and instead cluster your audience based on their intent and motivation.
Intent - what do they value, and what is preventing them from acquiring or achieving?
Motivation - how motivated are they to pursue those goals or experiences?
YODA didn't defeat the Evil Empire, but he played an essential role in enabling Luke Skywalker to realize his intent. What meaningful role do you play in helping a cluster of customers with similar intent and motivation, get to where they need and deserve to go?
Change the conversation from what you do to why you matter.
This step is so critical it centers my keynote and workshop. Here you need to shift your mindset and messaging from telling customers what you do to why you matter. I don't care if you have the fastest network, the best 5 G, or you are the King of Beers. Tell me what you can do for me.
Climb above your sales funnel where you are obsessed with acquisition. Engage the audience as their guide, curator, and motivator. Empathy and humility carry the day. Focus on thought leadership, curation and creation of relevant content. Substance, not sizzle. Stop counting media impressions as most are annoying noise and pressure the consumer, and instead court their loyalty by demonstrating that you have a higher purpose than profit. When customers are ready to buy, your brand will be top of mind as you have proven, over time, that you always have their best interest at heart. Final thoughts.
It's always better to be valued than to have to sell on value.
Start small. Shift some of your dollars from marketing your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to your Unique Emotional Proposition (UEP). With each shift, you are moving away from transactional to transformative and from mass to 'my'. Here you have rich territory and one that will produce loyalty, win market share, lower acquisition costs and improve employee loyalty as they are creating campaigns that matter. My belief, I imagine everyone's belief, is that it's always better to be valued than to sell on value.
And if you want to know more... If you are interested in learning more about what I am doing helping clients build their Unique Emotional Proposition, check out my podcasts, blog, and radio show. And if your Leadership Team is interested, I have put together a Keynote and Workshop titled Stop Telling Your Story and Become Part of Theirs. You can view the preview below and contact me for further details.
Let’s chat soon. Tony
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