While times have changed drastically since 1961, there are still many principles of advertising to learn from Rosser Reeves.
What is Advertising?
In the 1960s, Reeves presented a new definition of advertising: “Advertising is the art of getting a unique selling proposition into the heads of the most people at the lowest possible cost.” switch the word advertising for marketing and you have a good definition of how we understand marketing today. But what does this definition really mean and how can we apply it today?
How Do You Judge Effective Marketing?
Reeves developed two metrics that allow you to determine the exact effect of advertising. These two metrics are called Penetration and Usage Pull. Penetration is the percentage of people who remember your current advertising. Usage Pull is the percentage of people who have been “pulled over” to your product by the advertising. With these two metrics it’s important to keep in mind that some people would use your product without seeing the advertising. Above all, Reeves also believed that your advertising and marketing must have a clear line of sight back to a measurable business objective.
USP means Unique Selling Proposition and was already a popular term coined by Reeves years before he wrote this book. However, Reeves believed that many businesses had not actually created a USP, and their business had thus failed.
Here is the three part way Reeves defined the Unique Selling Proposition:
- Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.”
- The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
- The proposition must be so strong that it can move your target audience, i.e., pull over new customers to your product.
3 ways to create a USP
What Reeves calls the Three Big Roads to Rome, are the 3 ways to create a great USP.
- Find the USP directly in your product. If you’ve done your product development correctly and found a unique need your product or service can fill, you have a good chance of finding one.
- change your product. Build it around a USP you know will be successful.
- Tell your prospects something about the product that has never been revealed before.
Reeves now points out the ways you can make your USP as effective as possible. Changing the story has the same effect as stopping the attention (which is what, in reality, advertising is attempting to buy). Thus, if you run a brilliant campaign every year, but change it every year, your competitor can pass you with a worse campaign, provided he does not change his copy. In today’s terms, a decent content marketing strategy consistently executed over time will always beat a brilliant content marketing strategy, inconsistently executed. Finally, unless a product becomes outmoded, a great campaign will not wear itself out. In fact, especially in today’s world, it will only grow stronger over time.