Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Power of Metrics

I just got back from surfing one of the premier surfing spots in the world and was inspired to start my next book. That’s how life works. You take it when it comes. Prior to this, I had no intention of writing another. 

So here I am in Uluwatu on the island of Bali three days after addressing over 300 marketers in Sri Lanka who were very interested in what I had to say about marketing. As I began my speech, I alluded to the fact that I had discovered many significant marketing insights over the past twenty-five years and that I had selected two that I was sure would resonate to all of them. In fact, I offered up a promise to all in attendance. I said that all of them would leave the session with a clear sense of exactly what they would do next to their business Selling Propositions that would generate an instant improvement in their business.

This is the Uluwatu surf:

I planned to reveal one insight before the lunch break and tease the second for after. I did so perfectly and we broke for lunch. During that time, I was approached with a request to from the organizers of the event. The question was, how many insights was I referring to and could they hear more than two. They continued to push me. How many are there all together, they asked? Are they all included in your presentation today? There was clearly more interest in the numbers than my promise to increase their businesses.

I have often written about the advantage of incorporating metrics into your Selling Proposition when possible. Apparently, I had under estimated the true power of doing so. In that instant I realized I made a mistake by alluding to the fact that, even though I had customized a powerful event for them, it would not contain all that I had learned over my career. They were hooked on the metrics.

I thought I fully understood the role of metrics in Selling Propositions but now had fallen victim to it myself. They were into the count and how much of it they could get out of me that day. So, I did the only thing I could, I threw a number at them. There are twenty- three, I said. Truthfully, I had never stopped to add them up, and was just guessing. I promised, I would cover as many as possible after completing my previously planned presentation. They seemed pacified for the moment.

 As I completed my planned presentation, I began what amounted to an impromptu rundown of the insights that came to mind and that I could support with slides that I had at my disposal. I am happy to report that as much as they loved my planned presentation, they seemed even more interested as I rambled through even more insights. Time ran out and I received a stunning ovation, which included the gift of a jeweled elephant followed by a lengthy photo session with pretty much everyone in attendance. What a great group of people they are in Sri Lanka. I would love to go back.

That evening, I sat down and listed all the insights I thought significant enough to impact sales volumes, as it turns out, there are twenty-four. Pretty close. More importantly, that evening was also when I decided to write what will be my second book. Given the power of metrics and the nature of the experience, I am titling it “24” “Marketing Insights to Grow On.” I might work on the tag line but you can be sure the title is “24.”

I will not belabor the metrics point here but to say if you can incorporate them into your Selling Proposition, so much the better. In countless research sessions I have seen the difference with and without and can state equivocally, use them if at all possible.

I think two things occur when consumers see a metric. First they assume that the company behind the product would not have used a metric unless it was to there advantage. Given that, the consumer need not fully understand the meaning to get the full impact of having encountered it. The second is that the use of a metric communicates that the product communication is complete and more importantly, authentic.

So, what follows is 24 Twenty-Four. A book of 24 extraordinary and proven marketing insights, all of which I personally have seen work over and over again. I fully expect they will continue to work until they don’t, at which point, I will remove those that don’t and replace them with new insights that do.   

It should take me approximately three months to complete the book.


Keith Chambers

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

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012


When I initially broke Product Attributes down into three types, Physical, Performance and Negative, I was sure that Negative Attributes were not likely to be very influential among all the other elements in a Selling Proposition. I have recently become aware of a second function that makes me think we should look closer at the possible role they play. A well developed Negative Attribute can now become a powerful element in your Selling Proposition that sets you aside from your competition and TRIGGERS the purchase.

In the past, I have defined the Negative Attribute as a feature of the product that may be needed in order to overcome a potential negative. I said they are well known to most of us, No Preservatives, No Artificial Flavors, Won’t Leave Residue, Gluten Free, etc. My assumption was that they were only rarely needed and even then were expendable if the Selling Proposition was complex and already had an abundance of communication elements in it.  They don’t generally score very high when compared to all of the other communication elements yet curiously, consumers frequently insist on including them in the Selling Proposition. Why do they do that? Here is the answer.

For a long time, I have referred to what I call the operating state of humans. That state is “What’s wrong here?” By operating state, I am referring to their frame of mind. If you were just thinking to yourself “yes, but not me”, look more closely. This goes for you and I as well. We do it on a subconscious level constantly and jump into and out of it thousands of times daily. Its presence seems to vary on our mood or circumstance but I say it is always right there. I think it is a holdover from the days of the caveman when things went wrong on a frequent basis.

In the past, I recommended we be aware of this consumer behavior and avoid several things that will turn the consumer off simply by making it difficult to work through your Selling Proposition. Here is a short list:

-    Avoid a sentence with more than four words.
-    Avoid more than five key elements,
-    Communicate on an eighth grade level,
-    Make smooth transitions from element to element,
-    Avoid long words.
-    Avoid any word that may not be widely understood.
-    Avoid small type or anything else that may be difficult to see.
-    Make sure there is contrast in all graphics.

This list was built defensively. That is, with the attitude that one needed to be careful not to sabotage your own Selling Proposition. Now, there is a positively motivated action that I like much more.  A reason that offers an advantage over your competition.

Let’s assume you still check the above list to be sure you are not inadvertently turning the consumer off. What’s next is to find a negative attribute simply to satiate the operating state of your consumer. I believe if you do so they will lower their level of interest in finding an objective that will disqualify their purchase. This will be most effective on a product where you are relatively sure there are no Negatives in the consumers mind to overcome.

Let’s get creative for a moment. Let’s say you are selling an electric fan. It has in it a simple circuit breaker that is already required by law in case of a short.  Electric fans have been made this way for years. The consumer, on the other hand, has no fundamental fear of a short as they encounter the category.

The opportunity: The consumer approaches the category looking for a fan with little knowledge of how fans work. He scans several fans that boast similar performance features making the decision difficult. But when he encounters your Selling Proposition, it includes the words “Automatic short safety protector”. This line is intentionally worded similar to a “surge protector” that the world has come to accept as necessary. Now we have invented a Negative Attribute for our own use to set ourselves aside from our competition. Which one does he buy?

Continuing the thought, I have seen the line “gluten free” on food products that are completely inappropriate like preserves and juices. I suspect it was added by marketers who are hoping for a ride on that bandwagon.

The learning here is that in the endless quest to drive your competition crazy, three words at a time, take a look at the Negative Attribute. Your competition is likely unaware of this opportunity.


Keith Chambers

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

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