The high-ground where you can stake your flag. The sweet spot your customers flock to, where the competition can’t go.
When folks stumble on this perceived “high-ground”, the first thing they want to do is build a fence around it. Next they move to carve out a moat so wide, no-one can cross it. Finally, they build their siege resistant castle — with walls 5ft thick.
They go to all this effort because they want to create what people call their “defensible marketing position”.
And it’s a lot of work!
The mistake people make is going to all that effort, without realizing their castle has a secret underground tunnel.
This is what happens when you build your castle around claims that are easy to replicate.
For each of your claims, you need to think — is this REALLY exclusive to me?
(You’d be surprised how many entrepreneur’s aren’t objective about the exclusivity of their offer.)
If it is exclusive — how hard does the competition need to work to penetrate your castle?
Do they have to cross your moat and batter down your 5-ft thick siege walls?
Or can a small crew of bandit raiders sneak in through the secret tunnel you didn’t even know existed?
In my Microbook — The Ultimate Reason Why Customers Choose You — I outline the process for identifying the claims that make your offer unique.
As part of the process, you need to rank each of your “Claims of Value” for Appeal and Exclusivity, on a scale of 1-5.
When ranking your claims for Exclusivity, you can only rank it as a 5 if only you can offer it now — or into the future.
Here’s the catch: in business, real exclusivity only comes in two forms.
As part of my process, I show my clients how to apply those two forms to their business.
To see how they apply to your business — check out my free Microbook:
The new season of House of Cards will be released on my productivity… like Mr. Burns’s releasing the hounds on the Springfield riff’raff. The one and only Kevin Spacey will be leading the lineup for the series that’s been a smashing success for company.
Numbers are hard to pin down, but from what I’ve gathered, it’s bagging Netflix an extra $200-400 million a year.
That’s incredible when you consider Netflix has only been producing original shows since 2013.
And it’s a looooong way from when Netflix first appeared.
Netflix has always been a sharp and savvy company.
Remember when had to sign up online, check off the movies you wanted to see, and then wait for them to show up in your mail?
“You mean… you’re gonna send me DVD rentals in the mail…?
… and I can hold onto them as long as I’d like… ?
… and you’re not gonna charge me late fees?!!”
MIND = BLOWN. Innovation — how daft it makes our older ways look, eh?
But Netflix has always been a sharp and savvy company.
They know what’s up.
They’ve consistently stayed one step ahead of the game, because they see where the ball is going.
How exactly do they do it, though?
Well, in short — they’re quick to “pivot” and they have absolute clarity into:
Who their ideal customer is
What their ideal customer wants
Their core USP has always remained the same:
Deliver couch potatoes the best selection of TV shows and movies possible, in the most convenient way possible.
Even though the company has changed dramatically, the USP has stayed the same.
It’s the specifics that’ve evolved.
And they recently evolved to a whole new level.
Let’s take a quick journey along the company’s main 3 stages of progression…
When you think back to it’s first mail-delivery form, convenience and novelty played a factor in their USP.
You could queue up a series of movies you knew you wanted to watch. And then they’d be drip fed to you without having to disrupt your regular schedule. Plus, it was a sweet surprise in the mail when your latest movie arrived.
You got to cut out the usual, “Ho, hum, — what will I rent this week from the local video store after I take 30-45 minutes out of my day to see what they have?”
They spotted the pain, and delivered a gain.
But their next iteration was the game-changer.
The low-cost, one-stop-shop streaming service.
Same USP, different delivery.
The magic was in ratio between “choices available” vs “monthly cost”. This was the main reason people chose them. While all the good/best shows weren’t available, you got the best choice out of anywhere else at an unbeatable price.
Now Netflix is moving towards world domination. Because Netflix is creating it’s own premium shows.
The USP is no longer just about convenience… or vast selection.
Now they’re amplifying the power of their USP by ratcheting up the Exclusivity.
You can’t get the latest season of House of Cards anywhere else. Or Narcos. Or Making a Murderer.
And that’s just talking about their big hitters…
Netflix now has 100+ unique titles. With another 88 planned over the next year.
Pretty soon people will only be buying Netflix because it’ll be the only place to watch the shows they want to watch.
If you want to channel the same success Netflix has achieved, follow their lead.
Tap into the core desire of your target market. Then evolve the specifics of your USP to deliver it in fresh ways, so you can stay one step ahead of the competition.
If you’d like to get more folks exclusively tuning into your USP, check out my simple guide below. It’s a 5-minute read and will show you how companies are getting on the fast track to success right now…
They produce amazing high quality courses. Their USP: Get the best in the world to teach a class on their craft.
Serena Williams teaches tennis. Usher teaches performance. James Patterson teaches writing. Dustin Hoffman teaches acting.
And this weekend they gave me early access to Kevin Spacey’s Masterclass on acting.
So, how does this relate to marketing?
Well, I happen to have purchased both Dustin Hoffman’s and Kevin Spacey’s acting Masterclasses…
Weird thing is, I’ve never felt the calling to become an actor — ever. Getting up on stage, pretending to be someone I’m not, scares the bejesus out of me.
But learning about acting from Dustin Hoffman? Kevin Spacey?!
I couldn’t help myself!
I eagerly purchased both courses, for two reasons:
I believe you can always learn something from the best about how they approach their craft.
There is no other place in the world I can learn from these two masters.
Let’s structure USP question and statement:
“If I’m a student who wants to learn about acting, why should I buy Kevin Spacey’s Masterclass on acting, rather than any other acting course?”
“… because it’s the only information product on acting that will ever be instructed by Kevin Spacey, one of the world’s greatest actors”
There’s onlyone Kevin Spacey.
And chances of him (or Dustin Hoffman) ever doing another acting course are pretty slim.
Which means his Masterclass is going to be the only acting course he ever releases.
That’s a powerful USP.
When you have former engineer, turned copywriter (who can’t even keep a pokerface while playing cards with his 8yr old niece), buying acting courses… it’s a prime example of the “Powerful Only Factor” in effect.
For those of you who don’t know Deadpool, he’s Marvel’s greatest (and funniest) anti-hero.
He’s known as “The Merc with a mouth”.
And it’s his mouth (in part) that’s responsible for his first movie breaking all sorts of box office records in the past week.
(Just when everyone thought we were getting sick of those Marvel comic book movies, eh?)
Let me explain…
Well, Hollywood deez dayz makes sure comic book movies are PG rated, so you can bring the kids along.
Gotta chase dat family dollar, right?
Deadpool though, is anything BUT suitable for kids.
In fact, the marketing campaign for the movie went out of it’s way to CLEARLY message,
“This isn’t your standard hero movie – DO NOT BRING YOUR KIDS!”
We’re talking swearing, in-appropriate sexual & social references, nudity, sex, blood, guts, and all sorts of hilariously offensive one-liners you DO NOT want your kids repeating anywhere in public…
… you know — all the good stuff you actually want to see in a movie.
Let’s map out the Value Prop question and USP statement quickly…
“If I’m a cinema go-er who wants to see a movie, why should I go and see Deadpool, rather than any other movie that’s out these days?”
“… because Deadpool is the first Marvel movie that’s not for kids. Like, seriously – don’t bring them.“
This creates a phenomenal USP for the movie because it creates massive expectation.
There’s a bunch of other geeky sub-USPs for comic book nerds — which I won’t go into. But all you need to recognize is that for the mass market of Marvel movie goers, this USP hits that sweet spot of Appeal and Exclusivity.
As long as the product delivers an entertaining experience for folks lashing out the cash, then it has that magic combination of:
A USP people want
A USP being delivered in force
When these two start bubbling up together in the mixing pot of the market, that’s when rave reviews start flying around and word-of-mouth starts moving feet.
Now, exactly how long Deadpool’s Appeal and Exclusivity last, is another question…
My guess though, is that when you’re breaking box office records today, it’s a question you can afford to answer tomorrow.
PS – If you’re looking to break your own personal sales records, let’s talk about how to turn your USP into a hero here:
Back when I was working in B2B Software Marketing, I had a pretty hefty commute. We’re talking about an hour and a half each way. Every day.
My mode of transport?
(Bus. Metro. Walk.)
Where I worked was also a pretty dispersed area, meaning you needed a car to get anywhere.
If you wanted to get something for lunch, your choices were stuffed unless you scored a ride with someone else from the office to hit a food court.
A good buddy of mine though, lived in the hood.
We had worked at the same company a few years before — only he had the sense to get out and work for himself long before I did.
To stay in touch, we’d regularly go for bro-unch.
Luckily, he had a car. Which meant there were approximately 6 breakfast joints within striking distance whenever we wanted to get some mid-day grub in.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty big fan of brunch.
I take it seriously.
I don’t settle for any old slop.
Anytime I’m going in, it’s basically for late breakfast. I’m not one of those weirdos who orders from the lunch menu when brunch is on the cards.
(If this is you, please take a long hard look in the mirror.)
I’m talking bacon, eggs, potatoes, sausages and toast.
With a cuppa tea.
Like most normal people, right?
Now, if you possess my crazy engineering counting skills, you’ll agree that’s 6 components to the standard breakfast.
If you factor in other components that determine a good eating experience — like travel time, wait time, service, & cost — that’s a nice round 10 components to consider before choosing which breakfast to eat.
That’s a lot of things playing into the equation.
And that’s how most business owners see their businesses.
A bunch of service or product components, all playing a big role in how customers perceive them.
But in reality, there was only 1 component — above all others — that factored into where we’d go each time:
How good the breakfast potatoes were.
Finely cooked spuds were reason numero uno in determining whether we’d be haunting your doorway, or ghosting out the back door.
Out of the 6 places that were potentially on the cards each week, we’d only visit 2 of them.
Both had amazing breakfast potatoes.
One place specialized in a mashy type of shpud. The other specialized in a crispy type.
We both preferred the mashy type, which meant that 80% of the time, we went to one restaurant.
What’s interesting is this: the place we frequented the most was the furthest, most expensive, and had the longest waiting times.
3 exclusive claims. None very appealing.
But the magnitude of the appeal behind the one key decision factor was enough to overwrite everything else.
It’s funny, because we used to visit a third place on rotation — until they changed ownership. The genius new owners decided it would be a good idea to mess with one vital part of the menu.
You guessed it: the breakfast potatoes.
(Their business has since almost tanked.)
So, how does this apply to your business?
Well, consider this…
Another restaurant in the same area could have gone out of it’s way to get the best bacon, the best toast and the best eggs. Even after all that work, it STILL wouldn’t have made any difference in influencing our decision.
Remember: You always have to look at your business with customer logic.
Amping up the exclusivity in secondary claims of value isn’t nearly as powerful as nailing the appeal for what the customer REALLY wants.
I call this “The Breakfast Potatoes Theory” to USPs.
Figure out what your breakfast potatoes are. And make them exclusively the best in one dimension.
If you’d like to chat about identifying what the breakfast potatoes are in your customer’s world, hop on over to the link below and book some time to chat:
At the end of 2015 I spent 3 weeks at home in Ireland for Christmas.
‘Twas my first time home for Christmas in 5 years. That’s a looooong bloody time. So long, I almost forgot how good the Guinness tastes back home.
It’s pretty well known around the world that we Irish like our drink.
And if we’re known for one drink, more than any other, it’s Guinness.
“The Creamy Black Stuff”, as it’s fondly known.
Our international reputation as surprisingly functional alcoholics means many a person will instantly up their drinking game the second they come into contact with an Irish person.
Or the second they step into an Irish bar.
It’s a weird phenomenon to witness, but, all of a sudden, when you’re within striking distance of anything Irish, it’s party time!
Thing is, Guinness is a strange drink for most people.
It’s technically a stout. And stouts aren’t all that popular or common in comparison to other beers. Mainly because they’re heavy and can taste a bit manky if you’re not used to them.
But that doesn’t stop folks from ordering them in a right snappy fashion the second they find themselves in Irish territory!
“Sure, I’ll try one of those — when in Rome, eh?”
Why is it that?
Well, it’s because to “foreigners”, Guinness is the most Irish drink they know.
So when they’re deciding to live a little — enjoying the brief spark of joy in that small Irish moment — it’s the obvious choice.
(And it’s no wonder – Guinness’s marketing is amazing. But that’s a story for another day.)
‘Tis a different story in Ireland. When you go to order stout on the Emerald Isle, there are 3 main options you’ll be greeted with:
Beamish is about 50c cheaper per pint.
So, the answer to it’s Value Proposition Question:
“If I want a pint of stout, why should I buy Beamish, rather than any of it’s competitors?”
“… because Beamish is the cheapest Irish stout, so you can get more pints in for your 20 euro”
A simple, yet very effective Unique Selling Proposition.
Beamish though, happens to taste like absolute muck.
So, if you’re any sort of a self respecting human being, you really only have two remaining options.
Now, I come from a place in Ireland called County Cork.
Cork is a fiercely proud part of Ireland, where the local population have a reputation for thinking we’re better than everyone else.
Murphy’s also happens to be made in Cork.
So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a lot of people in Cork will choose Murphy’s over Guinness, simply because it’s made in Cork.
Because “Made in Cork” is a claim that’s both Appealing and Exclusive to the regular Corkonian. In many corners, that’s reason enough for Murphy’s to be chosen.
“But, Ross — tell us — which tastes better?”
“And is it possible to tell the difference if your life (or reputation) depended on it?”
Believe it or not, this conversation came up over Christmas.
Logically, the only way to arrive at the answer was to thrown down in public, with the Irish equivalent of the “Pepsi-Coke Challenge”…
“The Guinness-Murphy’s Challenge”
The One Drink To Rule Them All
(Or make you look a little foolish in front of your friends)
The rules are simple.
You have to blind taste 2 pints of stout, which are handed to you by the group.
Either time, it can be Guinness or Murphy’s.
There’s no guarantee you’ll get both drinks.
Each contestant must correctly identify which drink is which.
As an Irish person, the stakes in this game are high.
We’re a tricky people, so not only do you have figure out which drink is which, but you have to figure out if your friends are trying to fool you.
Not being able to identify your preferred choice would mean opening the door to a brutal slagging from everyone else in the bar.
The Guinness Murphy’s Challenge – Correctly identify which stout is which, or suffer a serious dose of holy mortification (If you look closely in the picture in the bottom left, my friends handed me a glass of water. They weren’t fooling anyone).
Of the 5 people who took part, 2 got it wrong. Which means they called their own choice o’drink by the other brand’s name.
“Mortified for your mother!”
So, even though they couldn’t tell the difference in taste, they still had their reasons for choosing.
Takeaway: Your Unique Selling Proposition, why people choose you, isn’t always about your product. No matter how much you want that to be the case.
If you’d like to chat about the factors that go into why people choose you, your product, or your company, click the link below.
We can organize a quiet, friendly chat — like we’re just down the pub:
This, ultimately, was for just 13 seconds of wild entertainment.
That comes out to about $230 per second.
Now, you might think that seems like a lot. And, I’ll be honest, it is. But would you think I’m crazy if I told you I’d spend it again in a heartbeat?
Of course, the location of this manic spending was none other than Las Vegas.
The event: UFC 194.
The biggest fight night of the year.
Where my fellow Irishman, Conor McGregor, would face off against the reigning, defending, undefeated, featherweight champion of the world:
In the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), there hadn’t been another fight as hyped as this fight. After being built up with an extensive marketing push for over a year, including 2 world tours and a reschedule due to injury, the fight was finally happening. Just in time to ring out the end of 2015.
For the company running the show — the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) — this was expected to be their biggest payday, ever.
And it was BONKERS.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Vegas.
Before last July — when I first went to see McGregor fight — I’d never been.
I’d only heard whispers through friends of the absolute madness that went on there — be it for stag parties, lads’ weekends or good ol’ conference “networking”.
The funny thing was, while I was there, the whole of Sin City acted like they’d never seen the Irish before.
To be honest, Vegas didn’t know what hit it.
The town was Green.
We’re a funny people, the Irish. If there’s one thing we do, it’s leave an impression.
And Vegas didn’t quite know what to do with 10,000 Irish fight fans cheering, chanting, and singing our boy to victory.
Conor McGregor — for those of you who don’t know him — is a brash, cocky, loudmouthed showman. He’s also the biggest star in the UFC, who has catapulted himself to international fame by doing two things:
1) Saying what he’s going to do — loudly, proudly, and with sugar coating on it.
2) Going out and doing exactly what he said he was going to do.
So, when he said he was going knock out Jose Aldo — who hadn’t been beaten in 10 years — there were a lot of folks doubting him.
To stir the pot even further (as we Irish like to do) Conor confidently predicted he was going to put his opponent away within 1 round (a humiliating defeat).
Something that had never done to Jose. Ever.
So, when Conor knocked Jose out with his first punch — 13 seconds into the fight — the reaction of the entire arena was electric.
The Irish fans screamed with delight, overtaken with the adrenaline fuelled joy.
The doubters sat there, slack jawed in disbelief, crumpling their useless betting slips between their white knuckles.
And the rest of the crowd just stood and cheered because of the sheer brilliance of the performance.
There wasn’t a single person who didn’t care about the result in the building.
Everyone had chosen a side.
Everyone was invested in the result.
Because Conor McGregor is a master of marketing.
He’s a man who has crafted many Unique Selling Propositions for himself. He has given everyone who comes across him a compelling reason to choose him.
Each one differs, depending on who his ideal customer is.
For the 10,000 Irish Fans there, they chose to follow Conor McGregor because he’s the first ever successful Irish UFC Fighter
For the doubters, they chose to follow Conor McGregor because they wanted to be there when finally got defeated.
And for all the rest, they chose to follow Conor McGregor because he’s the most boldest and most exciting fighter in mixed martial arts today.
That’s why, while I was spending $250 per second to watch the fight, Conor was earning $1.3 million PER SECOND during that exact same time.
(His earnings were about $16 million for the whole event.)
Not bad work if you can find it, eh?
If you’d like to get a better handle on your USP — and nail down exactly why your customers should choose you — head on over to this link and let’s get ready to rumble: