One of the lesser-known advertising greats, Rosser Reeves, was known to pioneer what is known as the "Unique Sales Proposition (USP)."
The USP was, according to Reeves, the only thing that set apart a product from another product, and the only thing consumers cared about.
Today, the USP has turned into "unique selling points" and the idea of competitive advantage. Reeves believed that ad campaigns didn't need to change since the USP would more than likely not change. Too much originality in campaigns would confuse the consumer.
It seems that Reeves was right, for the most part.
Before consumerism really took off, Reeves and other marketing professionals didn't have to do much to sell their goods and services. Mostly everything offered was self-explanatory. The number of choices then pales in comparison to the number of choices now.
The consumer was different, too. Now, consumers demand a story.
A recent Science Daily article described a report that noted ads with a "Shakespearean" style (rising action, climax, falling action, conclusion) received more favorable views and recall than those that didn't.
Advertising now is not just to inform, remind, and persuade. But now, we need to entertain.
Long Live the USP.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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