Nothing wastes marketing investments better than blah, blah, blah…
• Invariably as we work with companies we come to see their uniqueness, their special offerings and their “nuggets” of differentiation.
• Invariably we see that these same companies haven’t brought these unique selling propositions to their business writing and marketing tools.
Instead they opt for the common blather and buzzwords their competition uses, driving readers to catatonic states and glassy eyes. Phrases like, “complete customer satisfaction” and “we add value at every step” and “our people are our difference” begin to pop up like Spring daffodils reducing the company to a common denominator with their competitors and their offerings to commodity status.
“Test your company”
Want to know how well your materials differentiate? Print out the landing page of your web site along with the “about us” page. Do the same for two competitors of your choice. Next lay them out side-by-side and use a highlighter to identify common words and phrases used by all. At the end of the comparison, see what copy remains and evaluate:
a.Does it accurately differentiate your organization and provide a defendable position? b.Is there enough un-highlighted, differentiating copy to do the job? c.Do the points of differentiation standout and are they memorable?
If the answer is yes, congratulate yourselves and “market on”! If not, it may be time to call in the professionals.
The Value of Unique Language
There are only five realistic Unique Selling Propositions and the third one is Unique Language (for a description of all five, send me an e-mail with "send all 5" in the address bar and hit “send”).
Unique language can warrant a more costly cup of coffee because it is brewed by a barista, define a car owners’ bliss (Fahrvergnügen) or change a meeting tone because, instead of VP Sales, the business card reads, “Lead Listener”.
Crafting copy, descriptions and stories about a company with words that someone hasn’t already used is painstakingly difficult and is an art…so don’t take it or the process lightly. Words have connotations (good, bad and indifferent) and, if you believe your company truly does bring something special to the marketplace, isn’t it worth the time to insure that prospects and customers know the essence of who you are and how you approach business?
Simple Question – “Does it work or doesn’t it?”
Let’s take an easy example. I hate the word Sarketing®. It doesn’t roll off the tongue, it’s unwieldy and it’s funky. However, in a region where there are probably 250 marketing practitioners who have hung up a shingle, I am the only one associated with something different…Sarketing. This unique word that accurately describes my area of expertise has been invaluable to me in carving out a niche.
Not only does it differentiate and make TBG’s offerings unique, but it initiates the sales process. People are always asking me “what is Sarketing?” allowing me to wax poetically about what makes us different. And isn’t that the holy grail we all seek? To be able to start the sales qualification process by having a prospect be interested and ask US for more information instead of us having to try to break out of the herd and into their consciousness? What could be better?
Saying we are an ad agency or marketing firm immediately has them slotting us into their own connotative “pigeon hole” from which we may never escape. Unique language allows us, and you, to create what we will be and to differentiate.
Crafting a Position
The value of unique language transcends single words into creative copy that has great value in bringing people, companies, products and services to life and to showcase their inherent drama.
My friend, Ric McNeil, sent me a link to an article from INC magazine titled Why is Business Writing so Bad? that contained a wonderful excerpt of innovative writing that sets one company apart:
“Luckily, there are exceptions. Wonderful exceptions. These are companies with a personality and a point of view. They care enough to have their own voice. They want to communicate, not just say something. They have a story to tell, and they want to tell it well. They write to be read.
Woot is one of those companies. Woot is a Dallas-based business that sells one item a day at a deep discount. Here is how the company describes itself on its website:
Woot.com is an online store and community that focuses on selling cool stuff cheap. It started as an employee-store slash market-testing type of place for an electronics distributor, but it's taken on a life of its own. We anticipate profitability by 2043 -- by then we should be retired; someone smarter might take over and jack up the prices. Until then, we're still the lovable scamps we've always been.
Don't you just love these people? Or maybe you hate them. Either way, I'm pretty sure you have an opinion about Woot based on this paragraph. With just a few sentences, Woot instantly set itself apart from the liquidation crowd."
And that is where I would leave you today. Make certain that someone has an opinion about you other than an “also ran”. Take the time to describe yourselves, your business and your offerings through your writing with the same vigor and intensity you might in any face-to-face meeting.