The Unique Selling PropositionUnder the USP theory you identify some feature of the product and you use that as a lever to distinguish it from its competition. So products are stronger, faster, sharper, and they wash cleaner, and so on. USP thinking is product-oriented thinking, totally focused on the functionality’ of the product. Product-oriented thinking is very common on the web, understandably as people become very wrapped up in what they produce. It is also a death-trap for the unwary as it ignore or simply assumes the customer.
Customer OrientationCustomer orientation shifts the focus from the product to the customer. It recognizes that the customer puts very little value on a product’s functionality. Cars are SUPPOSED to work and not rust. No-one is willing to pay a cent more for one that doesn’t rust, though they may be charged more!Think in terms of a continuum of what the customer values i.e. what the customer is willing to pay for!’ At one end are the generic functions that the product is supposed to have, next to that are various augmentations say, support services, warranties, guarantees, and so on. People are willing to pay a little more for these augmentations but they largely resent them. At the other end are the psychological factors fear, safety, status, children’s advancement and so on. People are willing to pay almost anything for these AND, even better, positionings based on customer psychology are extremely difficult to copy and it is difficult to dislodge the leaders. Despite an overwhelming quality advantage, it took decades for the Japanese to create a truly high status car the Lexus and dislodge Cadillac and Mercedes.
Solution MarketingThe solution approach is an evolution of customer orientation. The primary insight is: People buy things to solve problems.
Those problems may be simple, requiring an equally simple solution. Or they may be systemic’ requiring many products working together to resolve them. So the ring around the collar’ image that used to sell detergent in the 1950s has morphed into a system problem of detergents, dryer cloths, and different types of machine and so on. Solutions is a return to product orientation as the human psychological elements tend to get lost.
Experience MarketingExperience marketing puts the psychology back into solutions thinking. In experience marketing your market approach moves into the skin of the consumer and asks the question: What is the value I gain from the experience of buying and owning this offering? It moves marketing into the world of theater and the choreographing of the sales and delivery process to add value to the consumer. The classic examples are Disney (rides become family), Starbucks (a cup of coffee becomes a refuge from a hectic world), Bass Outdoor World stores (rods and lures become oneness with the fishing and hunting world), Harley-Davidson (motorcycle transport becomes being a rebel and dangerous), Guinness (a beer becomes community), and Club Med (a holiday camp becomes a journey of self-discovery).
The essence of experience is to create a story around the offering, to build adventure, passion and help people to a reason for being. Sound very grand? But it’s hugely profitable!Dream MarketingThe Dream is the super-charging the experience approach. (For an impassioned look at this subject go to Tom Peters Re-imagine, Dorling Kindersley 2003)”A dream is a complete moment in the life of a client. Important experiences that tempt the client to commit substantial resources. The essence of the desires of the consumer. The opportunity to help clients become what they want to be.” Gian Longinotti-Buitoni (ex-Ferrari)Wow! Longinotti-Buitoni (quoted by Tom Peters in ‘Imagine’) defines Dream Marketing as:
“Touching the client’s dreams The art of telling stories and entertaining Promoting the dream not the product Building a brand around the main dream Building buzz’, hype’, a cult’ Dreams create an explosion of passion, a release of pent up frustration. This is beyond a good experience it is almost orgasmic!”From product orientation to selling the opportunity to realize a dream; that’s a long journey! But it’s a useful way of thinking about marketing your product. Ask yourself:
Am I really just selling a USP into a mass market; generic marketing? Can I find the customer fragment and understand what they want? Does my product solve a problem? If so, who has the problem? Can I imagine one that does? What experience am I offering the customer? Does the theater surrounding the purchase decision add value? Is there any way I can tap into their dreams and deliver on it? As you move down the list your margins and profits rise!