When we set about creating a new product or service, we look for a catchphrase. And while a catchphrase or slogan is very useful, it's not a lot of use when it comes to driving home our uniqueness or positioning.
So how do we create that USP or uniqueness?
The best way to go about this exercise is to avoid the line completely, because really, your clients can't remember it any way. What you need to focus on, is the story. But how do you create this story line? What's the secret link between storytelling and uniqueness?
This is an unedited transcript
When someone tells you their name, do you remember it?
Often when we meet someone they introduce themselves, we introduce ourselves, and then later we cannot remember their names. We think we're really bad with names, but as you know, that's not true at all; no one is good with names. The reason why we don't remember names is either because it's not important or we don't have a story. How important is this story when it comes to uniqueness?
What I'll do right now is I'll read out a whole bunch of slogans from airlines and see if you can remember which airline they come from. I bet you won't remember any of them, or very few of them. That's because they don't have a story.
Here It Goes
Number one, making the sky the best place on earth. Number two, the proud bird with the golden tail. Number three, world class, world wide. Number four, we really move our tail for you. Number five, something special in the air.
You're getting that blank feeling aren't you? It's like when you meet that person again and you can't remember their names. That's because there is no story to it. The key to remembering someones name is to assign a story to it.
That's exactly what you have to do when you're creating your uniqueness. If there is no story, it becomes impersonal and you can't remember it. More importantly, your client can't pass it on to someone else.
In today's episode we'll cover three points, as always, and that is:
- How does the story help,
- How to construct that story, and
- Finally, why it's so important because it needs to be passed on to someone else.
1.How Does The Story Help
Let's start off with how the story helps. One of the worlds best know slogans is simply, “Thirty minutes or it's free”, and that came from Dominos Pizza. That sounds like just a line, doesn't it? When you think about it, is it just a line? There is a story behind it.
There is a story of this pizza guy desperately trying to get the pizza ready right after you've put the phone down, and then getting across to you and ringing your doorbell at the 29th minute.
Then you hoping, somehow, they'll miss it by a couple of minutes and then you'll get it free.
Notice how easy it is to tell this kind of story to a friend. The reason why this whole slogan seems to work is because the try is unfolding in your brain. You can actually see this story unfolding even with that single line. The line doesn't really
matter, what really matters is the story behind the line.
Let's take a product like ioSafe. These are indestructible, or seemly indestructible, hardware – external drives that you use for your computer. They sell for a lot more than the drives that you get anywhere else. What's the story behind it? It's
boiled down to this one word, which is indestructible. I don't think they have a great line, but their story is really powerful.
They take the drive to a shooting range and shoot at it, they take a road roller and run it over, they take it and throw it in the swimming pool, they do all kinds of things that would normally destroy the data in the drive. Yet that data is completely secure.
We may not remember the line, and who cares if we remember the line or not, because we're now telling the story to someone else. We're telling them why they should buy this product or service.
Every morning when I go for a walk I usually have an umbrella; it's a red umbrella. It rains a lot when I go for a walk, so I have to take an umbrella. What's different about this umbrella? For one it costs about $100, when the other umbrellas you can get them in the story for about 10 or $15. Why buy and umbrella for $100 when you can get one for $10?
The answer lays in the uniqueness.
Because New Zealand is a set of islands and it's pretty narrow, we get storms and winds and often the umbrella just turns inside out. Not the Blunt Umbrella. To test the Blunt umbrella what they did what run it through wind tunnels.
A wind tunnel will probably demolish your $10 umbrella; it will go to pieces. Often you'll find umbrella in garbage cans all over the place. Just thrown always because people are so sick of them. They're twisted, broken, absolutely useless.
The Blunt Umbrella has been tested so that it works under crazy wind conditions and doesn't turn inside out. You may say that's a lot to pay for an umbrella that doesn't turn inside out, but as you look on the street more and more people have a Blunt Umbrella. More and more people feel the need to stay dry in the rain. It's not so weird after all, is it?
I'm pretty sure that you will agree with me that all of theses three products are pretty unique. Let's go back and look at what their slogans are. We start off with Dominos Pizza, and everyone remembers that it's “thirty minutes or it's free.” that I can remember.
What is the slogan for ioSafe? It is “Disaster proof software.” It's less on the memory scale, but I can still remember it a bit. Finally we go to the Blunt Umbrella. Their slogan is, “The worlds best umbrella.”
You see the problem here, don't you? The slogan doesn't matter at all, does it? It's the story behind it that makes all the difference. You remember the story about the Blunt Umbrella, and how those windy conditions and the wind tunnel makes all the difference.
You also remember Dominos offer of giving you a free pizza if they're not on time; that's another story. Iosafe dropping their hardware from a height, or throwing it in a swimming pool, or getting a road roller to go over it.
What you remember is the story. This gives us a clue as to how we should go about creating our uniqueness. The slogan doesn't matter; what matters is the story behind it. Now that we know the story is more important, how do we go about creating that story?
2. How To Construct That Story
I personally don't think that any of the great stories come from an advertising agency. If they do come from an advertising agency, it's because someone in the advertising agency had the sense to actually look at the product or the service and figure out, “Hey you guys, this is what you're doing really well.”
The story can come from you, the business owner, the creator of the product or the service. You do this by playing emperor. When you look at the story of Dominos, it was back in the '70s, and if you ordered a pizza it could take and hour or more to get a pizza.
What they did was they decided that they're going to have a pizza that wasn't the tastiest or the spiciest or the biggest, it was just the fastest pizza delivered to your door. That got peoples attention, but they decided that. They decided that we're going to
set up this system that is build around speed.
When you look at ioSafe, which is that indestructible hardware, it's the same thing. External hard drives have existed for a long time, but now we have this hard drive that is just so indestructible. In effect, they're trying to find ways to destroy it.
While nothing is completely indestructible, they come pretty close to showing you what would happen if you had a fire. What happens when you have a fire? For starters you're hardware is toasted, then right after it's toasted the ire brigade comes in, the fire truck comes in and then they pour water all over it. That toasted hardware is now soaked as well.
Do you think any of the data is going to survive that? Yes, it's find to say you can do an online backup, but what about those big files that you wrote to your computer just 30 minutes ago? They're all securely backed up.
What they're demonstrating is how indestructible it is. The way the go about it is to say, “Let's create something like this.” Rather than, “I wonder what we can find in our product or service that's unique.”
We look at the third example, the Blunt Umbrella, we get the same scenario. The scenario is someone got sick of umbrellas that had to be tossed away every :me the wind blew a little harder. They create a great looking umbrella, but predominately an umbrella that could withstand a wind tunnel blast.
This doesn't solve your problem, does it? You're still wondering, how do you play emperor? Imagine this situation, imagine that you are standing on the edge of a cliff and that was your city sprawled before you. At this point in :me you're supposed to ask yourself, “If I could change this city, what would I do?”
Naturally you would come up with a list of things, maybe the list would be 10 things, or 15 things, or 2o things. What you want to do is you want to widdle that down to 5, and then to 3, and then to finally the one thing that the city desperately needs.
The same thing applies to your product or service. Let's way you're about to create a product or a service, you have to ask yourself, “How would this product be completely different from any other products or service?”
For instance, when we create the article wring course, our article writing course was approximately the same as every other article writing course. It wasn't the same, but from the outside work it was just another article writing course.
We had a lot of trouble filling up those courses. It would take 3, 4, 5 weeks to fill up a course. When you think about it from a business point of view, that's a lot of energy that you have to spend just to fill up a course.
We got lucky, the first thing that happened was one of my instructions was misunderstood. In earlier courses clients would write four or five articles for the duration of the en:re course – which meant for about 12 weeks. In this course one of the participants misunderstood the instructions and they thought that they had to write 5 articles a week.
They started writing 5 articles a week and then others in the course looked at what he was doing and thought, “That's what I have to do”, so they followed along. Soon enough it became very very hard.
Try writing one article a day, five days a week – in this case it was 6 days a week. You will know what I mean. It's very very hard. By the end of the course one of the clients who had done the course said, “This is the toughest course I've ever done.
It's almost like having a baby. There's a dog level course, a cat level course, a baby level course.” There was the story in plain sight of us. There was the cat level course when you don't have to do much, just like cats; they take care of themselves. then there's the dog level course, where you have to go out with the dog for a walk; there's more maintenance involved in having a dog.
Finally, a baby level course, where you kept up half the night, you don't sleep very much for three months – that's how the Psychotactics article writing course became the toughest course in the world.
That slogan is not as interesting as the story of the dog level, the cat level, and the baby level toughness. That's the part that you remember, that's the part that clients remember, and that's why our courses fill up in probably half an hour or 45 minuets.
You'll say, “wait a second, you didn't come up with whole scenario”, and sometimes you don't. In this case the client came up with the scenario. We had a whole bunch of happy misunderstandings and we got a great story from it. Then we ran with that story and it had run ever since.
While my advice is always, play emperor, sometimes it just pays to listen to what the client is saying and how they perceive the product, or the course, or the service to be. Then use it as your story line. Another good example of this is Golden Moon tea. This is run by Marcus Stout.
Marcus is a friend and client of mine. When he started out the tea company it was just like any other tea company, but he decided to play emperor. A couple of years ago he decided that even in the tea there were so many chemicals. You can get away with a lot with the label “organic”; you're actually allowed to put in a whole bunch of chemicals, even if it's organic.
He decided to make his teas chemical free. This took a lot of work because you can't just say, “Hey, this is chemical free.” You have to be there at the farm, figure out stuff, you have to travel a lot. He wanted to create a tea company that he could be assured he could say, “Yup, this tea is chemical free. There's not a trace of chemical in it.” Not 3%, not 5%, not nothing, just chemical free.
Do you know how hard it is to find tea that doesn't have some kind of chimerical, gene:c modifications, artificial flavors, or toxins within it? That's the tea that we've been drinking all this while. By playing emperor, Marcus has decided this is how it's going to be.
Now you don't care what his slogan is, you don't even remember his slogan, what you remember is the story behind it. This brings us to the end of the second part of this episode. In the first part of today we covered how does the story help.
Then we went on to, how to construct that story and how to ignore the slogan completely if we need to. Now we move to the third part, which is why is this so critical, why is so important that we create a story before we create any kind of slogan, if we create a slogan at all.
3. Why it's so important because it needs to be passed on to someone else.
I think you already know the answer to that question.The answer is just that it's memorable. You don't remember peoples names and you don't remember slogans of airlines because they're just words strung together. Sure, every now and then you get a slogan that's memorable like, “thirty minutes or it's free”, but for the most part, you don't remember it.
Yet we spend hours, and days, and weeks, and some people spend thousands, and tens of thousands of dollars coming up with a slogan that no one remembers. The story really helps because it's helps people to transfer the message across. It helps people to tell people why they buy this product or service over the next product or service.
When you're buying a $100 umbrella instead of a $10 umbrella, you need to know why you're doing that. More importantly, you need to justify to someone else who's going to laugh in your face when they see you with such an expensive umbrella.
The story really makes a difference. You feel like owning an ioSafe because you know someday there might be a fire at your place, you know that you're out with that umbrella, you know that you drink tea and you would prefer to have tea that has no chemicals – not just organic, but no chemicals whatsoever.
It's the same story that drives people to buy into the article writing course, even though we sell it 6 months in advance and at a reasonably high price. This story takes a lot of time to create. Once it's in place, you get better customers, you get higher prices.
Of course all of this adds up in the sense that you can now put all that money and time towards your vacation, which is critical.
Vacation is not just something you have to do because you can do, it's something that enables you to calm down, to relax, and to just come back fresh so that you can tackle your work with even more gusto. it's not just going eating, drinking, it's also just relaxing your mind and coming back refreshed.
Let's get back to today's topic. The three things that we covered today are: story helps, we figured how the story helps and how it's more powerful than those terrible slogans that you heard at the start. We also very briefly connected with the construction of that story line.
Whenever you're coming up with a product or a service, play emperor and create the story line rather than some slogan that no ones going to pay attention to. Finally, we saw the importance of this story line. It enables people to pass it on, to justify what they bought, and get better use out of it as well.
That brings us to the end of this episode. What is the one thing that you can do today? The one thing that you can do today is to play emperor. Make that list; make the list as long as you need to then cut it down to 10, then to 5. Then you'll really struggle because you'll want to talk about everything, but then cut it down to three, and then finally to one thing.
What is that one thing that you really want to do for this product or service. Do this every :me you start up a new product and service, because every product or service requires it's own uniqueness. Play emperor, or get a client to play emperor, and you'll be amazed how that very same product or service gets an enormous amount of power and clients are immediately attracted towards it.