Monday, June 7, 2010


My son Eric likes to refer to me as a “clicker.” He has frequently observed me clicking away on my computer as I have become impatient to the point of not wanting to wait more than a split second for it to respond. He is right by the way. I think I’m simply a product of the times where we are all very impatient. This phenomenon is pervasive among humans in general and if you are not careful, it can affect how well your selling proposition is perceived.

When working on a positioning assignment, we break the total message down into its communication elements. We then dedicate ourselves to creating the most powerful means of communicating each. element We do so knowing that it is essential to developing a powerful selling proposition. This is true irrespective of whether it is a product or a service. It is just as correct to assume that you must make your selling proposition both fast and easy for your target consumer to encounter and comprehend, or you will lose them.

Assuming you do not have money for sophisticated eye tracking research, I offer the following. I will discuss the critical elements that will be initially exposed to your target consumer. You will want to consider all elements you feel are necessary to complete your selling proposition. Your selling proposition may be communicated at any one of many impact points. You could be working with a billboard ad, a yellow pages ad, a bus bench, a package, a radio or TV commercial, a billboard, the cover or first two pages of a brochure or whatever your impact point is. The process is exactly the same.

The most important element is almost always your benefit or a bold statement. Your benefit is a two or three word statement of what your target consumer gets out of using your product or service. An example is “Less Work” on the 3M Sandblaster sandpaper package seen below. A bold statement is a significant claim about the performance of your product or service. An example is “The Most Interesting Man In the World” on the Dos Equis billboard ad below.

Your brand or your generic descriptor can be the initial elements that target consumers are exposed to because target consumers encounter them without judgment. They are perfect to function as an attention getting element. Target consumers encounter them then move on quickly to the next most prominent element. The next element should be your benefit/bold statement. Beyond the benefit or bold statement, you will add supporting attribute drivers. They should be located in close proximity. Close enough that they function as one design element as in the 3M sandpaper package. Notice the statements directly adjacent to “Less Work."

This methodology sets up one of the strongest communication scenarios I know of. Your brand/generic descriptor works as your attention getting first element. Your benefit/attribute drivers work together as your second element. Assuming you have developed strong communication elements, you will have a powerful selling proposition and your target consumer has only had to encounter two elements. Additional subordinate elements should be added carefully.

The learning here is that you and I are responsible for how target consumers encounter selling propositions. Simply having all of the elements present is not enough. We must manage the order in which the elements are exposed. If we force them to sort it out they will tune out.


Keith Chambers

Keynote Marketing Speaker
Creative Marketing Consultant
(310) 473-0010

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