Memory – it’s the final frontier. We all know where it is; now we need to know more about how it works from a marketing perspective.
Let’s begin with the RAS (Reticular Activating System). The RAS is the "key to turning on your client’s brain." It is a complex collection of neurons at the base of the spinal cord that serve as a point-of-convergence for signals from the external world (our five senses) and the inside world (our intuitions, emotions, etc.). So what’s it have to do with marketing and selling? There are three important aspects of the RAS:
1. Positive Focusing — Allows a mother to hear her whimpering baby while dad never hears a thing.
2. Negative Filtering — Allows the person who lives next to the busy railroad or airport to screen out the annoying noise.
3. Individual Perceiving — This explains how five people who saw the same accident can have five different stories of what happened.
The RAS tends to allow three types of information through to your perception on a regular basis: things you value, things that are unique, and things that threaten you. My point is this; you need to clearly understand what is unique, compelling, and memorable to your prospective clients in order to get their attention. Then denominate that message powerfully and in a compelling manner to get the consumer’s attention.
A unique selling proposition (USP) is a marketing message that clearly communicates your building company’s distinctive and compelling selling point. A USP is not a headline, slogan or a catchy phrase. Forget words like value, quality, leading, and newest; they are too broad, too generic, and are too easy to emulate.
Your USP must be yours and yours alone. If your competition can claim to have your USP then drop it. If it requires complex analysis to validate, forget it. If it doesn’t fit your customer’s perceptions, don’t use it. In short, your USP must be memorable, distinctive, and it must sell! It must sell benefits, not features. It must talk about the consumer’s interests, not your ego. Appeal to the buyer’s desires. For instance, Hershey Chocolate has been an American candy staple since 1884. Hershey’s mission statement is: "Our mission is to be a focused food company in North America and selected international markets and a leader in every aspect of our business. Our goal is to enhance our #1 position in the North American confectionery market, be the leader in U.S. chocolate-related grocery products, and to build leadership positions in selected international markets."
Godiva Chocolate, on the other hand, was first to create the concept of premium chocolate. They did it by combining great chocolate, effective marketing, sophisticated packaging and selective distribution. Simply stated, Hershey’s Chocolate is to eat, Godiva is to give away as a gift. Note the subtle, but effective differences. None of us will purchase a bag of Hershey Kisses for a top client or a special date. Instead, we opt for the more expensive Godiva package that comes in gold packaging with a ribbon and special tag. It’s not so much about the chocolate, it’s more about the message our choice sends. It’s about the USP.
When creating your USP make it compelling. Avoid superlatives, sweeping generalities and gross exaggerations; it must be believable. If you have the right message and the wrong audience or the right audience and the wrong message you have failed. You must have the right audience and the right message.
Creating a USP is about more than knowing your customers. It’s about your customers knowing you! Ask these questions: What is unique about our building company? What aspect of what we do is meaningful to our customers? What positive message seems to exist in the market about our company? The bottom line is this: your USP must answer the question every consumer asks: Why should I do business with this builder and not the guy down the street? Remember; customers don’t come to buy from you, they come to eliminate you. The process of elimination is mush less painful than the process of selection. Too often it comes down to who gets eliminated last.
You must thoroughly understand both your customers and your product in order to create a powerful USP. Denominate the message powerfully and repeat it often. Repeat it everywhere. Get into your customer’s mind and make an impact. Remember, you must appeal to their wants and desires with a message that can get through all the marketing noise. Your message must get past the RAS by appealing to things your customer’s value or being unique. That message will get through and it will be memorable.
Brian Flook, MIRM
President, Power Marketing & Advertising, Inc.