3 Rules to Get NOTICED

September 23, 2009

We are information rich but attention poor. (Kinda reminds me of the Byron Church sign “Alzheimer’s Coffee Club at 10:30.” Aren’t they going to forget?)

What do people remember about you or your organization? Other than standing at an intersection in your underpants, how do you stand out?  Strip.  Strip away everything that doesn’t matter and focus on what does. What is your unique value proposition? If I work with you, if I hire you, if I donate to you, what do I get? Ever heard of radio station WII-FM? If you want people to tune you in, you have to tune into What’s In It For Me?

Let me give you a real life example. I recently assisted Kimberly Beaven of BlueWave Media. Her offerings were extensive – website design, search engine optimization, marketing advice for small business, geek gadgets, PR design and more. I stripped away all these features and focused on her firm’s primary benefit. Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen calls this “simplify and clarify to amplify.” ( What is BlueWave Media’s benefit?  Get NOTICED.

If you want to get noticed figure out your unique proposition. To learn how to do this let’s go back in time and meet advertising legend Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company. Reeves became famous in the 4os for tripling clients’ sales sales using one big idea: The Unique Selling Proposition. The USP often gets watered down and given these Madison Avenue Ad men didn’t even water down their Scotch, let us take a minute to savour their concept as it is often over simplified.

Reeves researched copious campaigns to discover the key to pulling people to a brand. (If you just cringed. I understand. There is something distasteful about branding ourselves. We are not soap. Marketing at its worst is elegant lying.  ‘New & Improved’ has never meant so little. Marketing at its best, says marketing genius Seth Godin, is making sure we are remarkable,  that is being something worthy of remark.

Reeves discovered this principle: don’t sell a product, sell a benefit. Reeves coined phrases such as “Wonder Bread Helps Build Strong Bodies 12 Ways” and ‘The Colgate Way Stops Tooth Decay Best’. Modern campaigns do this all the time; Dove promises ‘Real Beauty’, BMW offers “The ultimate driving experience” and Coke invites you to “Open Happiness” (after which you’ll need Colgate to stop tooth decay).

Let me take Reeves principles a step further. Don’t sell a feature, sell a benefit. Aspirin earns Bayer a whopping 640 million pounds or $1,000,728,756.44 CAD in sales per year. Aspirin contains acetylsalicylic acid  otherwise known as ASA. ASA is an analgesic which relieves headaches, aching limbs, fever and inflammation. Aspirin does not market the features of ASA (how it works)  it markets the benefit of pain reduction (what you get – bye bye headache hello beaudoir).

1. The first rule of the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is you must tell your listener if you buy this you get this. I know you are not a product and so a more appropriate phrase is unique value proposition, which is often for service-based businesses and individual marketing.  For BlueWave Media, if you hire them you get noticed online. What is your benefit? How about: satisfied customers, improved morale, increased revenue, enhanced reputation, greater market share, more funding, fewer lawsuits, the end of blue eye shadow.

2. The second rule of the USP is that your proposition must be unique – one the competition cannot or does not offer.  It’s really hard to figure out your own uniqueness. You often need a second set of eyes and ears. This is where I turn into human fly paper catching key words and phrases and finding the ones that stick.

To get beyond clichés you need creativity. This means accessing the right side of your brain. I asked Kimberly to play her favourite music and do a brief writing exercise with her opposite hand. This temporarily tricks the logical, rational, internal critic otherwise known as the left brain to shut up.  I mindmapped her juicy words. The word miracle came up. Geek came up and many more. Then I asked Kimberly to highlight her favourites  and we began to mash them together. ‘Miraculous Geeks’ made Kimberly smile more than a chocolate Skor  bar.  We had something. (a free trial version of mindmapping is at

3. Rosser’s third criteria for a USP is that it should be strong enough that it “moves millions and pulls new customers to the product.” In other words, the product has to meet an existing need or it fails.  For Kimberly what pulls people to her is that she gives small businesses a big business presence online. What is compelling is she has the results to prove it. Dazzling results in fact.  When she adds concrete results to her site she will stand out in a crowded marketplace because she’ll be able to prove her  prove R.O.I.  – return on investment. Can you?

To get noticed in this ADD world, focus on your benefit. Check out Kimberly’s updated site at and let her know what you think.


Sources:  Terry O’Reilly – Age of Persuasion, CBC Radio, ‘According to Hoyle’ Season 3.  Wikipedia for info on Reeves. Garr Reynolds Presentation Zen and Seth Godin’s talk at TED,

If it is not your genius it is not your job.
Louise B. Karch