Monday, September 16, 2013

Every marketing consultant's (second) favorite question

Mark Schaefer of posted "The 6 critical questions guaranteed to drive your social media strategy" this morning, and as the comments show, most marketing experts focused on the first: "Can you finish this sentence? 'Only we …'” -- without regard to social media strategy. I don't think there's any question that this is by far the most helpful question for a business to answer, both to investors and marketers. The term "unique selling proposition" or USP has been around for decades, but too many businesses ignore it, or freeze up when asked. In fact, it can be very demoralizing to consider it -- and find you don't really have an answer. Here's the thing, though: Many businesses seem to do just fine without ever really articulating their answer. How can that be -- and what does a marketer do in these cases? Here's an example: Do you really believe, or perhaps I should ask do you care that Chevron unleaded gasoline has X unique patented ingredient, and Phillips 66 gas has Y? For most drivers, it's more likely that the USP they're responding to is "Only this gas station is on my route at the moment I need gas, and their price today is not so much higher than that cheap station that it's worth my time driving all that way." So the gas station you choose can boast a USP of "most convenient" -- but only for those drivers needing gas at the moment they're approaching that station. Of course this is why you very seldom see TV commercials for gasoline companies any more. The lighted sign with the price is enough. More on this topic soon. Oh, the marketing consultant's top favorite question: What's your budget?