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ESP – The New USP

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We all know that sales are based mostly on emotion and the decision is backed up with logic.

That’s the law of the salesperson! You’ve heard of a USP right? i.e Unique Selling Proposition – well, these are the benefits that your prospects and clients can look forward to receiving when they purchase your wares. They could be called “THE LOGICAL BENEFITS” of doing business with you. Your Sales Manager and Sales Director will most likely ram USP’s down your throat so you can discuss them with your prospects.

But based upon what we said earlier, your prospects will make their buying decisions based upon emotion and will back that decision up with logic and not just logic alone via your USPs. Are USP’s really USP’s any longer? Everyone seems to have the same USP’s! Therefore, you need to work out what your ESP is!

Earlier, the first question that a company used to ask itself was: Why should customers buy from you and not your competition? The impact of the answer is a powerful tool in focusing the company on delivering the promise of the USP, thereby helping to improve the company’s performance. An excellent example illustrating the impact of a USP is the Domino’s Pizza message: made-to-order hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less – Guaranteed. That’s how Domino’s stands out from the competition. It makes Domino’s unique and distinctive. It’s how Domino’s took over the delivered pizza market. It clearly differentiates Domino’s in the eyes of potential customers and keeps current customers coming back for more. Notice though, Domino’s did not promise the pizza would taste good! What Domino’s did do is develop and unify the company “systems” to ensure the stated USP is met. The customer can measure what is promised.

Now let’s come to ESP that has too much extent, tucked USP under the carpet.


So what’s an Emotional Selling Proposition?

Sure, your USP will provide logic and reasoning as to why someone should select you but their primary reason will be an emotional one. Your ESP’s are your products/service/companies emotional levers that help the prospect to buy. They are the “beneath the service” triggers to create emotion. So think about the feelings and the emotions that you want to stir up with your prospects and clients and use this in your sales. Can your product/service make the prospect?

* Feel important
* Feel valued
* Feel part of a unique group or select band of people
* Feel whole
* Feel remembered
* Feel attractive
* Feel trendy
* Feel hip
* Feel safe
* Feel accepted

Get the picture?

So, next time you are revisiting your USP’s make sure you take just as long if not longer on your emotional selling proposition too. For decades, marketers and businesspeople have focused on developing their USP, or Unique Selling Proposition.

Think about different brands of products you’ve seen advertised on TV. What’s the main message underlying the ad? Different brands and types of products utilize different primary themes, attributes, or ideas associated with each brand. The problem is that very few products are unique. Just ask people who sell aspirin or gasoline or any other commodity product. So where does that leave us? Emotional Selling Proposition focuses attention on the emotional connection consumers have with your product or service.

This works for just about any product. Take Starbucks, for example. Their Emotional Selling Proposition revolves around the feeling of comfort, peace and soothing satisfaction that washes over you when you walk through their doors. If you were stopping by Café Coffee Day to get a cup of coffee from them, the emotional experience would be completely different.

Lets again go back to dominos if I say it’s USP has been for a long time the “30-min” delivery promise, pizza hut to a great extent has been able to deliver the same promise by introducing “we serve the Pizza hot at your door step”. So then what did Dominos do differently? Still retaining its USP it added emotions to its product i.e. “khushiyon ki home delivery” so that the customers have a happy and joyous feeling on the delivery of the much awaited pizzas.

Coca cola again with its “Ummedo waali dhoop” song tries to convey the customer that it is more than just an aerated drink which brings hope and smile to everyone’s life.

Now let’s come to the Apple. Though being a cult brand Apple products inspire strong emotions because the brand defines the identity of its customers. Just owning a Harley- Davidson Motorcycle says something about you, so does owing an iMac. It offers, like all cult brands, a collective individuality. People want to be different, but they want to belong. Cult brands such as Apple and Harley Davidson manage to satisfy both impulses simultaneously by using the ESP. Brands are built around emotions and products are built around functions.

What makes Axe Deodorants stand out in the crowd? Going by the customer review the Axe deodorants doesn’t last long as compared to the Gillette and Garnier dry deodorant, then what makes them tick? It’s simple. Axe deodorants sell sex appeal. The feeling of girls (and now Angels) falling for you makes people feel like the chosen one. An L’Oreal emotional connects with “because you are worth it” was an instant success among the Indian masses. Being compared to Paris beauty worked for the Indian ladies.

People don’t wear a Rolex for its accuracy. They wear it to make a statement about who they are and how big their bank balance is. It is a wearable Porsche, and signifies the same qualities. A Rolex is an investment.

Most of the service providing industries particularly the hospitality sector focuses on emotional and feel good factor of the service and hence the “physical evidence” becomes an integral part of the offerings.  The better the ambience, the more the customer are touched and more are the revenues for the hotel. This again explains why hotels like Taj are doing a good business. After a long time of fighting the competition in the noodles market Maggi which was on the verge of losing the market share due to its stale USP of taste, came out with a new ESP which could connect with the customer. “Me and Meri Maggi” pulled the customer back to itself, showcasing the fact that it was Maggi who was there with you at the time of joy and hunger. Customer with their experiences became a hardcore brand loyal to the “emotional product”.

The Bottom Line:

As a marketer, you should be aware that people buy many products for emotional reasons and then justify that purchase for logical reasons. Get inside the mind of your consumer and try to figure out the hidden motivators for buying your product. Once you’ve got a hand on those, be sure everything you do — everything — taps into that emotion in one way or another.

Sumanth Nayak & Anish Bagchi
Batch of  2011 - 13

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