Wednesday, August 1, 2018

#17 How to Make Your Product or Service Unique and Sexy

Issue #17 - Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Posted by Denny Hatch

How to Make Your Product or Service Unique and Sexy

Imagine! A car so quiet you can hear the electric clock! This has to be one magnificent machine—from inside out!

What a Unique Selling Proposition!

The headline of David Ogilvy’s 1958 full-page Rolls-Royce ad is so famous that today it generates 85,300 results when entered into Google. The line secured Ogilvy’s place in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

More to the point, in 1958 Rolls-Royce sales reportedly increased 50% over 1957.

How Did Ogilvy Come up with His
USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?
 “Good ideas don’t come from smoking joints and wearing funny clothes,” wrote Ogilvy’s associate Drayton Bird. 

“It’s just hard work and discipline. I do not believe the mysterious qualities of flair and originality are nearly as important as relevant knowledge.”

Great copywriters research the hell out of a product or service, getting to know it intimately. They also research competitors’ products.

And steal smart.

Features v. Benefits
Features are elements of the product or service. These are about it—the facets of the thing you are selling.

Insurance companies have never understood the difference between features and benefits.

Here’s how a life insurance company sells its product: “The major benefit of this life insurance policy is $1 million.”

Actually, the $1 million is not a benefit. It is the main feature.

The benefit: You will sleep well every night knowing if anything happens to you, your family will be able to stay in the house, pay the bills and remember you with love.
Here’s how MBA Magazine described the difference between a feature and a benefit:

“People want quarter inch holes, not quarter inch drills.”

In this case, Ogilvy came up with massive list of features that made Rolls different from all other cars on the planet.

He then ranked these features.

Turning Features into Benefits
The next step is to turn these features into benefits.

Pick the most sexy, offbeat benefit. That's your Unique Selling Proposition.
In effect"What will this feature do for me?"

In this case, the unstated benefit is: Virtual silence in a speeding Rolls-Royce.

The Backstory
David Ogilvy did exhaustive research and decided Clyde Bedell (1898-1985)—a titan in the world of advertising from the 1930s to the 1960s—had the perfect USP for Pierce Arrow.

Ogilvy stole smart.

Pierce-Arrow went out of business in 1938, some 20 years prior to Ogilvy’s ad. Back in 1958, the Internet was unimaginable. What’s more, on the slim chance some nerdy little researcher found the forbear to the Roll-Royce version, how could the word be spread and who would care?”

Takeaways to Consider
• "The prospect doesn’t give a damn about you, your product or your company. All that matters is, ‘What’s in it for me?’ ”—Bob Hacker

• Always listen to W-I-I FM.


Word count: 456

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Invitation to Marketers and Direct Marketers: Guest blog posts are welcome. If you have a marketing story to tell, case history, concept to propose or a memoir, give a shout. I’ll get right back to you. (Kindly stay within the limit of 500 words.) I am: 215-644-9526 (rings on my desk).

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  1. I beg to differ with your statement that "In this case, the unstated benefit is: Virtual silence in a speeding Rolls-Royce."

    The actual benefit is the implication of superior construction and engineering that this silence implies.

    1. Peter, Good point! I don't disagree. Thanks for taking the time to Comment. Cheers.

  2. Great story, Denny! I didn't know the Pierce Arrow tie in. Thanks for, as usual, educating me. Keep 'em coming!

  3. I am surprised to learn that David Ogilvy copied this headline from Claude Hopkins.

    I’m definitely not buying a Rolls-Royce now!

  4. Good afternoon, Denny!

    A framed tearsheet of the Ogilvy ad hangs in my home to this day. By the way, the story goes that the Chief Engineer for Rolls Royce, upon seeing this ad said, "We've got to do something about that clock!"

    Helmut Krone said, "Good designers copy. Great designers steal."

    Best regards!

    Tim Orr

    1. Denny, thanks as always for the splendid thought and insight. Rolls Royce years ago ran a magazine advertisement showing a man in a top-of-the-line Mercedes looking with envy at the Rolls Royce next to him in traffic. The "absence of envy" another benefit.