Tuesday, September 18, 2012


For years, marketers have been looking for “Wow”! They are referring to the reaction that a target consumer will have to something they perceive as a breakthrough. An example would be the first time you encountered a dry cleaner with a big sign claiming all of their chemicals were “environmentally friendly” … WOW! Or the first time you saw an ad for a Prius and they announced it would parallel park itself … WOW! Or when Tide added Febreze fabric softener to their detergent…WOW!

I first heard it from my clients in the mid 80’s and it became a cliché by the early 90’s. They also referred to it as “New News” but wow continues to prevail to this day. Beyond the wow factor I can tell you that it is far more important to determine exactly where, within your sales message, the target consumer is making the buying decision and treat it like the wow but I call it a Trigger. A Trigger by my definition triggers a purchase reaction to your sales message. A Trigger also by my definition does not have to be caused by a change in your product. It can also be a change in your sales message. You can create a trigger. You simply state something new about your existing product that appears as a trigger and there are many ways to create one.

If you have hung around me for more than five minutes you will have heard me site the example of 3M Sandblaster sandpaper. Let’s say you were clever enough to find a compelling benefit like “Less Work” for sandpaper and you added an Attribute driver like “Cuts 3 Times Faster” to it and voila, you have a trigger. In this example, we add “Cuts Three Times Faster” to the ‘Less Work” and together they become a trigger. It only becomes a trigger when they are joined together.

There exists a natural tendency for marketers to want to play up a trigger if they feel they have identified one. It is usually done graphically with a burst of color and large type shouting the information as prominently as possible. Unfortunately, my experience is that this is not the strongest way to use a trigger. In fact it is the wrong way to use it. Here is why.

While creating a Selling Proposition (sales message) it is smart to remember that it is no less personal than a conversation with a stranger on the street. In fact, the similarities are many and the differences are few. Notice that in a conversation with a stranger, you cannot treat them as you would a friend. You may be able to hug or pat a friend on the back but not a stranger. You simply do not have the relatedness required to do so. If so how does this translate to marketing?

I have observed for years, that all humans operate from “what’s wrong here”. That means they, you and I too, are looking for what is wrong. Notice when a stranger approaches and begins to talk for no apparent reason, you initially think they are after something and you become defensive. The same is true with a Selling Proposition when it is first encountered.

The solution here is that you should never start your sales message with a trigger, i.e.; if the first thing you see on the package is “Less Work”, consumers will challenge you immediately. The smart marketer will get related first by directing you to the Brand/Product name as an attention getting graphic, and immediately flank it with a Generic Descriptor. At that point the consumer is grounded and far less likely to disbelieve your trigger. Now, they are ready to be pitched. Move them on to the trigger, the Benefit/Attribute driver. The perfect sequence is first The Sandblaster/sandpaper…then…Less Work/Cuts Three Times Faster.

The learning here is clear. My concern is you will take this lightly. Be very clear, I now have volumetric research evidence that this insight is valid. This one is easy to screw up because many of us think we will be successful if we over shout out the key feature of our product over all other communication. If you do, you will likely suffer the consequences.

Good Luck,


Keith Chambers

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

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