Oct 11, 2007

UNIQUE Selling Proposition

For this little trinket to work a product needs something to differentiate itself from the competition. Am I getting through to any AE that has any doubts on this? I’m sure some execs I know don’t need this explanation but today’s events specifically prompt me to explain a little of what you don’t know and need explaining so you can fucking help me do my job.

Ok. Lets have a step by step to see if we can’t help you out pookies. Here are two definitions and an observation that should help you out.

Unique: adjective 1.existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics. 2. having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable.

USP: 1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the customer: "buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit." 2. The proposition itself must be unique - something that competitors do not, or will not, offer. 3. The proposition must be strong enough to pull new customers to the product.

However, careful with forming a USP based on what some call "The Deceptive Differential" - a uniqueness that is too small or too technical for customers to observe the differences in actual practice.

Having quoted unique from dictionary.com and the definitions of USP from wikipedia, might I note that there is a lot more reference material to help you find out more about USP’s and prove irrevocably that you don’t have a clue as to what a USP is or how to make a brief.

Now, WHY is the USP important? In a nutshell, it’s that one little thing we should focus on to convince people that our product is a better buy. It’s not indistinct adjectives or desired consumer perceptions or heaven forbid, EXACTLY what the competition offers. Those are nice to have but we need a USP because it is PART of what gives creatives the direction needed to do something at the very least strategically sound.

Why do I bring this up? Because I keep getting half assed briefs with lots of pages, tons of bullets but little to no insight. We have ten directions, zero USP, twenty messages to communicate and a contradiction every two lines.

Why is this bad? Because what we’ll come up with will be based on creatives’ criteria and though we can sometimes be lucky and hit the nail on the head, any help we get really is bloody well thanked. Oh might I mention that it’s also bad because it means that we know you’re copy pasting information from your client’s power point presentation that was itself copy pasted from some other brief of some other client or something they rehashed from three years ago. Oh and the fact that yet again I find myself doing your fucking work for you since thinking for yourselves is apparently out of the question you fucking robots, messenger robots at that (pardon the omission).

See this is what pisses me off. I know great execs. True, it’s a handful of people I’m proud to say I’ve worked with but they are extremely adept at developing briefs dripping with insight and whose criteria is always welcome because they always bring something to the table. Artistic insight, copy insight, strategic insight, you know what people with a brain can actually do. But no, I have the sheer joy of having a pro client exec, actually more like a pro client account service department. Wow, big surprise. I’ve had this before and it’s pissed me off before but damn, why do so many execs decide upon being mere messengers and lap dogs?

I’m trying to do things quicker and they jinx any effort because the client didn’t really see what I had done? I’ve actually been told this and I’ve noticed it happen as well since revisions and corrections I’ve made in documents never manage to get back to me and instead I see the old documents with their revisions. Wtf……..

But I digress and that shouldn’t be the case since that would make this post lack the sense of uniqueness I’m so begging for. USP’s, Is it so hard to come up with one for any campaign you ask of us? Apparently so because in two different meetings I’ve been able to slap my forehead to dumbfounded faces in regards to this question:

“So what’s the USP.”

Lots of duhs, umms, and more ummmms but not one single answer. And these people graduated college? Shit, then you ask why creatives think so many execs are useless dung heaps. I’m not saying creatives are god’s gift to advertising since I know quite a few who can’t follow a brief or follow job instructions which can and does happen often and pretty much no creative is free from this sin. I make that clarification so you don’t go thinking I am saying all creatives are awesome professionals because lord knows there’s a lot of bullshit that comes from our side of the equation as well but when I’m working my ass off to make a client happy and you just do as your told and you question nothing and help 0% to the agency’s efforts, then I can’t help but offer you a nice helping of ‘bite me’.

You know why I bring this up as well, because without a USP that a client signs off on take a guess as to what will happen. They will say we’re focusing on the wrong attributes and ask us (by us I mean creatives because in this case these execs don’t know what working past 6 or working a Saturday is) to work extra hours and weekends. Like Jerry McGuire says, help me help you. If I ask you a question don’t say “I think…”, or “offer me options…” or anything else your tiny brain can say so you don’t commit to a decision. Grow some balls, promote brain activity and help me get the job done.

Until then, read the definitions above, ask experienced execs about what you don’t know and quit annoying the piss out of me.

Fuck peace, forget love and stick the maki rolls up your Jamba Juice spewing assholes.
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