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USP as a Unique Story Point or the Emotional Point Of Difference (EPOD)

“The moment of clarity” talks about anthropology as a key science to really help understand your client. Market research does not work, Emotionomics and Kahneman et al have showed us that we are barely rational. Brain Solis talks about “moments of truth”. The Shallows explains our diminishing attention span. Everybody talks about information overload.

You don’t want to be in marketing II

Being a marketer is really, really difficult. Particularly if you are a marketer for a BIG company. Competitors are eating your lunch, you engagement with customers is difficult, your market information systems are not telling you what you need to know, your culture in not aligned with the customers, passion is only for the bedroom and your product has become me too.

You are using the wrong metrics

For example; when return on investment is measured by delight instead of sales or conversions, there’s a lot more freedom to be creative, to be bold, or maybe even to be creative and bold. Impact, connection, loyalty and love can’t easily be measured, which is why business hasn’t traditionally made these things a priority. Perhaps it’s time that changed.

A complex problem

We get this type of problem statements a lot. The context and contrast to these problems can be quite complex. We introduce thinking about strategy, future trends, innovation, customer care and sometimes even selling. Whatever gets the conversation going. Sometimes we add the business canvas model. Sometimes we use “Power branding”.

Came across “Difference: The one-page method for reimagining your business and reinventing your marketing”

Recommended by Seth Godin. And smack bang in the space of meaning, emotion, story telling, caring, empathy and the lost art of marketing. Marketing is, and has always been, a transfer of emotion.

The bell curve is melting

Forget about traditional market segmentation (the bell curve is melting!!). Through the Internet, we now have ‘tiny markets of someone’. Consumer behaviour is largely predictable once you understand that it is not demographics, income or any other single factor that drives spending, but a combination of distinct values, attitudes and behaviours.

Shouting does not work

Forget about carpet bombing with advertising (we spent $500 billion globally on advertising in 2013). Shouting ‘notice us’ just doesn’t cut it anymore. Our attention can no longer be held by things we don’t care about.

The P of people

Forget about USP and features. People buy the promise. They want to be, they don’t want to do. You need to hit the heart. You need to have a deep, deep understanding of what resonates and what really matters. And logic does not necessarily apply. E-M-O-T-I-O-N-S. Not USP but EPOD (emotional points of difference).

Caveman principle

It is the caveman principle. We are social animals. Many people know their neighbours anymore and yet have 500 ‘friends’ on Facebook? The currency of the future was also the currency of the past; it’s simply about intentionally creating deeper connections to each other.

Create a difference

What makes a brand unique now is the difference it creates—how it affects people’s lives and becomes part of their story. When you are organised to create difference, not just to be different, the result is much harder to replicate. Apple again as a shining example. You now prefer your phone over your wallet. Steve did that. He didn’t try to convince us; he changed how we felt.

Story telling

You need a story that your clients want to belief. People don’t want to be sold on the reasons you think your brand is better or best. They don’t want something different. They want something that creates a difference.

Deep understanding

It isn’t the person with the best idea who wins; it’s the person who has the greatest understanding of what really matters to people. Empathy. Caring. In order to do that, you need to understand the story that people want to believe and become invested in. Because the truth is that you can’t change how people think or what they do without changing how they feel. In a world with seemingly infinite choices, where customers get to control the conversation, we need to consider a new form of marketing, a form that is no longer purely product or company focused, but one that is built on difference thinking.

Different feeling, not a different product

Airbnb made people long to experience a destination like a local without the $8 price tag for nuts from the mini-bar. Apple changed how we feel about buying a whole album that probably included songs we didn’t care about. Amazon’s Kindle made us think of airport bookstores as reference libraries where we browse, but don’t buy.

They started at the edges, doing things the bigger brands were not prepared to do. They ate the bug, they moved on thin ice, seized the microphone, were quicker …… They are killing the giants

The difference model

What makes the book really interesting is “The Difference Model”. The model is built around six pillars: principles, purpose, people, personal, perception and product. A marketing version of the business model canvas.


Principles are fundamental truths, cornerstones and guiding lights. Every organisation, business venture or tiny project is founded on them; sometimes they haven’t been explored or articulated, but they still exist. Principles can be divided into three categories: the truth about you, the truth about the industry or the market, and the truth about the people you want to matter to.

The age old questions. Why do you matter? The what do you stand for? What do you belief in? Your passion statement and your value statement.

The truth about the industry or the market is not well developed in the book. But then it is not about the present or past. It is about the future and it is about a deep understanding of your clients. Which brings you to the truth about the people you want to matter to:

  • What’s the truth about the reality your prospective customers are living with?
  • What do they believe?
  • How do those beliefs influence how they behave today, and how might they change what they do tomorrow?
  • What problems do they want you to solve?
  • What might they need?
  • What are their unexpressed desires?

And to go back to “The moment of clarity”, you need to base that on observation and engagement. Not statistics and questionnaires.

PURPOSE Why does your business exist? Your mission statement

PEOPLE Who is this for exactly? Who are the people you want to serve? What do they value? What do they care about? What’s their current reality?

PERSONAL How can we change how people feel?

PERCEPTION What do people believe? What would we like them to believe about us and about themselves in the presence of our product? What do your customers believe about you? What would you like them to believe and say about your brand? What would you have to do to get them to do and say that? What do they want to believe about themselves? Your positioning statement.

PRODUCT What do people really want? What value does your product or service create for customers?

Heart share

And then you build heart share. One person at a time. The empathy and emotion. The feeling. The design. Good products will work. Great products become part of our story. A good speaker leaves us with food for thought. A great speaker leaves his heart on the podium. Good marketing tells the story. Great marketing is the story.

Do, there is no try

The answer is not to sit around imploring the industry or the customer to give us back our value. It’s not up to our customers to value us. It’s up to us to show them why they should and to do work that creates a difference. There is no more business as usual for musicians, or journalists, or designers, or [insert your profession here because it’s sure to be next]. No cushy numbers. No Get Out Of Jail Free card. There is only work that matters.

Be the one

It’s to understand the people you want to serve, and why, and then to be ‘the one’ for them. You must do what it takes not to be just another creative or professional, but to be the creative or professional that people who want the particular must have.

Create meaning

Nobody sets out to be average. In fact, what people want to be is exactly the opposite. As soon as we open our eyes every morning, what we want most is to matter, to live a life and to do work that has meaning. We have evolved to feel this way. Man’s first thought was ‘I AM’.


Truths, problems and unexpressed desires are all around us waiting to be solved or fulfilled. By wanting to bring the things people will love to them. By mattering to them, maybe even more than their wallet one day.

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