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Creative Career Path

Attracted to the Light2012.09.03

    Anyone familiar with marketing terminology will be familiar with the acronym USP (Unique Selling Proposition), which was first proposed by Rosser Reeves in 1961, as a means of understanding the advertising effectiveness of successful brands since the 1940s. Often summarized as a ‘catch phrase’ the proposition was unique and persuasive enough to get people to switch brands. A famous example is the FedEx phrase: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.”


    Over time the concept developed to encompass personal branding, and was expressed very succinctly by Dan Kennedy as the answer to the following question:“Why should I, your prospect, choose to do business with you versus any and every other option available to me in your category?” Given the level of global competition and copying that is prevalent today, that is a powerfully difficult question to answer. Or is it?


    Perhaps it is the hidden message that makes the sale so difficult, the unspoken pressure to buy, the suspicion that the person is primarily circling for a sale, rather than genuinely trying to help the listener. People like to buy, but they don’t like to be sold. This is why when shoppers are asked, “Can I help you?” they often answer, “No thanks, I’m just looking.” Looking to buy in fact, but not to be sold.


    It is time to revisit the USP, and perhaps move beyond it. Perhaps we should rethink this whole process that we always have to be selling something, and shift our approach to one of creating attraction by showing real value.The character in Japanese for sightseeing is 観光 (kankō), which literally means to see (観) the light (光). We are attracted to the light. Tourists flock to places with bright natural beauty or historical interest. Similarly, if we want to attract people we should shine brightly, with joy, gratitude, and hope. Proverbial wisdom has it that laughter attracts good fortune. Laughter changes the quality of your skin, your eyes, your voice, your posture and movement, those things which account for more than 90% of the impression that we make on people.


    A clever sales pitch cannot hide the grasping attitude that lies behind it. If your attitude is bright and optimistic your words will shine with that same quality.


    Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, and one of the leading lights in the field of Positive Psychology, conducted a study for Metropolitan Life to follow the performance of new hires after measuring their levels of optimism. Among the new hires were those who actually failed the insurance company’s screening test, but scored as super-optimists on Dr. Seligman’s test. They were hired anyway, and the super-optimists outsold the pessimists in the regular group by 21% in the first year and 57% in the second year. According to HR Magazine, after Met Life began screening job applicants for optimism, in less than two years the company expanded its sales force by 12,000 agents, and increased its share of the personal insurance market by 50%.


    We do business with people that we like because we are attracted to their optimism. A Unique Selling Proposition alone is not enough to sustain a relationship, business or otherwise. Business models and products are so easy to copy that it is very difficult to sustain a sale on the basis of uniqueness. Optimism is a rarer quality, and one that cannot be faked. Optimists are more likely to demonstrate creativity, courage, and find solutions. People are attracted to the light of a bright attitude and positive action.



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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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