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Value Proposition: Avoiding the curse of the ‘Why Bother Brand’

Tidal. Yahoo Screen. “Speed 2: Cruise Control.” Your brand?

Some brands are so undifferentiated from other options, so derivative of competitors, the reaction they get from consumers is a shrug of the shoulders and an “Eh, why bother?”

Let me give you an example.

 

The “Why Bother Brand”

A burrito/Tex-Mex/Southwestern place recently opened in my neighborhood called Barberitos. I’d seen a few ads for it while flipping through local publications, and every time I did, I had the brief “Eh, why bother?” thought. After all, there were already enough perfectly fine burrito places, and this one didn’t seem any different. I always secretly thought about it as the perfect example of a “Why Bother Brand.” But just today, I got some data to back up my assertion …

Walker Ragland, Marketing Operations Specialist, MECLABS Institute (you may remember Walker from his social media test we wrote about in April), posted a Barberitos printout in our office and was boasting about just how good the food was there. That prompted Marketing Events Specialist Susan Warren to look it up on Yelp.

Out of 24 reviews, 15 compared Barberitos to a similar quick-serve restaurant, Moe’s Southwest Grill:

“It’s just like Moe’s Southwest Grill down to the T. The price is the same as Moe’s and so are all the food options (including the salsa bar).”

“Pretty much just seems like a dupe of Moe’s.”

“It’s very similar to Moe’s.”

“I thought it was an off brand Moe’s.”

Ah … so I wasn’t the only one who thought of Barberitos as a Why Bother Brand!

Now according to Walker, the food is exceptional. So much so that he printed out coupons and handed them out to everyone in the office. Every restaurant should make food that’s so good that it creates ambassadors like Walker. And as our research has shown, word of mouth is one of the most popular ways customer discover new products.

 

You can’t taste an ad

But if you’re running prints ads (like the Barberitos ads I saw), or have a website, or do any other form of paid promotion, good food and a quality product isn’t enough. The goal is to communicate the perception of that quality, along with the exclusivity of your offer. Potential customers don’t know what the resulting experience of purchasing your product is really like, they only perceive what you communicate with your marketing.

This doesn’t mean I think Barberitos print ads are a total failure. After all, they do raise awareness. When Walker mentioned Barberitos, I had seen enough of the ads to know they had a location in my neighborhood, so I was curious what Walker thought.

Also, you can have a viable business as a Why Bother Brand, at least for a short time. If the demand is high enough to consume all of the supply offered by your brand and the other Why Bother Brands, you will see profit … at least for a time. For example, during the fro-yo craze, there were frozen yogurt shops everywhere.

But your margins will be challenged. And if demand drops, or a disrupter with a strong brand enters your industry, your business will be doomed.

Another example where Why Bother Brands can be successful is when a convenient location is more important to the customer than a unique value proposition. Nail salons and laundromats are a great example. However, in this case too, a disrupter with a unique value proposition can upset the apple cart. For example, Starbucks.

Plus, if you’re running marketing and advertising and have a website, you should optimize them for effectiveness and not settle for good enough.

So, what ingredient was missing from Barberitos print ads?

Exclusivity.

 

How to avoid being a Why Bother Brand

According to MECLABS Institute’s patented methodology, the higher the appeal and exclusivity of a brand, product or offer, the more impactful the value proposition.

 

In Barberitos’ case, the appeal is pretty high for its ideal customer. How much do I desire this product? I love burritos, so a whole heck of a lot!

However, the exclusivity is almost nonexistent. Where else can I get this product? Several other places, including Moe’s.

To increase the exclusivity, and therefore the force of the value proposition, Barberitos must not only advertise its appeal but also its exclusivity. This may already exist, and there is hidden value that isn’t communicated in the advertising. Or it may make sense for Barberitos to tweak its business model to create exclusivity that is valued by the customer.

To give you an example in the same industry, look at Chipotle. The Mexican grill chain has recently had a few challenges with food safety that have to do more with operations than marketing and value proposition. But if we look back a few years to 2011, the chain reported a 25% profit margin! According to the “2010 Operations Report” by the National Restaurant Association and Deloitte & Touche LLP, the typical profit margin for a limited service restaurant was a mere 6%.

Why the huge difference? I would argue that a great deal of Chipotle’s success could be attributed to its value proposition. It had the same appeal as other burrito joints, but oh the exclusivity – food that’s a little higher quality: “food with integrity,” “real ingredients just taste better” and “simple, fresh food without artificial flavors or fillers.”

In fact, if you go to the Chipotle homepage today, you are clearly and boldly greeted with a message derived from that value proposition, which, when you click on it, leads to further support of that value prop – “Process not Processed: Step into our kitchen and see how it’s done.”

 

Do you have a Why Bother Brand?

How about your brand? Could your customers pick it out of a police lineup? Is an exclusivity factor pervasive through all of your marketing – from prints ads to website? If you’re unsure, here are a few steps you can take:

  • Create a competitive analysis to understand what other brands offer and how they message it
  • Check review sites, social media and forums about your industry to understand how customers talk about and perceive your company’s brand in relation to other brands
  • Categorize your products’ value, test different value focuses, formalize what you discover into a value proposition and distribute it within your company and to your agencies and other business partners to make sure it is infused in everything you do

By doing this, you’ll give people a reason to get up off their couch, get in their car and try your unique burrito.

 

Epilogue

After writing the rough draft of this blog post, one of our research analysts came by the content area and noticed a Barbaritos mention on a white board.

She said, “Oh, yeah, I used to eat there because they were the only place with ground turkey burritos. But not anymore, since they got rid of it without saying why.”

Ironically, this would be the perfect example of what I discussed in this blog post — some element of exclusivity.

In fairness, Barbaritos might have found the ground turkey option unprofitable, so I only mention it as an example. Her instant, unprompted reaction when discussing the ground turkey — they offered a value that I couldn’t get elsewhere which made me want to be their customer — is the resulting experience of a successful value proposition with exclusivity and what our brands should elicit from our ideal customers.

 

You might also like

Value Proposition Optimization Webinar: 7 real-world B2B and B2C webpages analyzed to help you best message your “only-factor” [MECLABS Institute, Webinar]

Search Engine Marketing: Finding appeal for your PPC Ads

Do You Have the Right Value Proposition? How to test, measure, and integrate your Value Proposition online [From MarketingExperiments Web clinic]

Value Proposition Development online course [From MECLABS Institute, parent company of MarketingExperiments]

Consumer Reports Value Proposition Test: What you can learn from a 29% drop in clickthrough

March 21st, 2016 No comments

The results are in. Last month, we asked you, the readers of the MarketingExperiments blog, to write the most effective copy for a Consumer Reports email in a way that could test which value factors were most appealing to Consumer Reports donors.

To expand the amount of test ideas, we also asked the readers of the Convince & Convert blog.

We’ll get to the results, and the big winner of the MarketingSherpa Summit package, in just a moment. But first, a little more background and a few lessons.

 

A little background

Every year, prior to MarketingSherpa Summit, with the help of the MarketingExperiments blog audience and the audience of another marketing blog, we run a nonprofit organization test with a nonprofit organization.

Partnering with a nonprofit gives us a real audience to test with. More importantly, it allows us to use our collective ability as a community of marketers to create effective messaging for a greater good.

Prior to the test, we work with the nonprofit for a few months, diving into the data, getting an understanding of previous tests and coming up with hypotheses.

Read more…

Appeal: Does your value proposition actually make customers say, “I want this product or offer”?

March 7th, 2016 No comments

Startups can reveal some pretty enlightening information about what makes a successful value proposition. After all, unlike established companies with divisions and brands and patents and factories and distribution networks, the main asset many startups have is their value proposition (often communicated as an “elevator pitch”).

CB Insights recently conducted a post-mortem of more than 100 failed startups to try to figure out what went wrong. 

 

The top reason they failed — “No market need,” cited by 42%.

To put that into marketing terms, their value proposition had no appeal.

Read more…

3 Takeaways from the MECLABS Live Optimization Webinar

February 15th, 2016 No comments

Every month the MarketingExperiments team hosts a Web clinic designed around a specific topic to help marketers create stronger campaigns. January’s “Boosting Your Only-Factor” clinic discussed the relationship between appeal and exclusivity, and how it’s not enough to have just one — you have to have both. In order to have an “only-factor,” there has to be an overlap between the appeal and exclusivity of your product or service. Basically, not only does your offer have to attract the interest of prospective consumers but you also have to give them a reason why they can only get this product/service from you.

Using the principles touched on in the Web clinic, optimization specialists from MECLABS Institute, MarketingExperiments’ parent company, analyzed audience-submitted landing pages in a 60-minute Live Optimization Webinar to help fellow marketers create stronger campaigns.

 

Takeaway #1: Put yourself in your customer’s shoes

When looking at a landing page or campaign, it is imperative to “put ourselves in the shoes of the customer,” Austin McCraw, Senior Director of Content Production, MECLABS Institute, said.

Sometimes when marketers design content, we try to communicate as much value as we can, as quickly as we can. This is especially true on landing pages, where marketers are trying to grab the attention of consumers who have immediate Web access to your competitors all around the world.

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Value Proposition Copywriting: 5 word pictures that got more people to buy

December 28th, 2015 1 comment

Writing a value proposition is a lot like drawing a jellyfish in a game of Pictionary. Let me explain.

I was at a party recently where several people were playing a fiery game of Pictionary. One person who was particularly bad at the game started drawing a cylinder with a label on it.

Thick befuddlement settled on the guessing team.

After several wild guesses, the team rightly guessed that it was a jar of jelly. Then, much to the team’s dismay, the artist began to draw another picture. This time, luckily, his drawing clearly depicted a standard fish.

The word he held in his hand (the team finally discovered) was “jellyfish.”

Jar of jelly + fish = jellyfish

What the artist failed to realize in the heat of the game was that jellyfish are much easier to draw than either of those two things separately or together. It’s a half dome for the body; squiggly lines for the tentacles. Jellyfish. Next!

Too often, when trying to communicate something (like our value proposition) to our customers, we take the long way around. We use abstract language. We get lost in details that aren’t important.

People use their senses to experience the world. People’s thoughts are usually pictures of those sensate experiences (reality).

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Your Marketing Should Make Your Prospects Say “AHA!,” Not Just “Yes”

November 9th, 2015 No comments

At MarketingExperiments, we throw around a term a lot when we create content.

That term is “aha.”

I think it’s an extremely helpful term for marketers to understand and employ in their marketing.

But before I explain why it’s helpful, I want to first identify a serious problem in the world of marketing.

Often, even here at MarketingExperiments with our micro-yes inverted funnel, we are simply content to get a “yes” from our potential customers. A “yes” generally means a sale, a lead or a click, depending on where your realm of responsibility lies.

 

But what we don’t always get when a customer says “yes” is the maximum intensity of that “yes.” This translates ultimately to less momentum through the customer lifecycle, which translates to a lower lifetime value of a customer, which translates to lower revenue in the long term.

If you’ve ever bought a product that you needed because it was the lesser of two evils, you know exactly what I mean.

Read more…

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