Pick One Thing

…and focus on it. To the exclusion of all others. The way Jimmy John’s focuses on “freaky fast delivery.” The way Little Caesar’s focuses on “hot and ready” pizza.

Both of those brands could spend a lot more time talking about quality of ingredients, or taste, or customer service, but they don’t. They give us a statement, a handle we can hold onto. Three words that could fit on a Post-it note, and that remind us of everything else they stand for.

It’s tempting when you’re doing a marketing video to try and pack everything in there. You’ve got so much time, you’re spending so much money. It’s tempting to say, “yeah we deliver fast, but we also do this, and this, and this.”

Resist the urge.

Think of the customer’s mind as a filing system. The more you dilute your message, the more “unclassifiable” you become. That’s great for nuanced, dynamic human beings. It’s poison for brand marketing. Brands should be obvious and one dimensional. We should know exactly what they stand for.

And in case all this talk of narrowing and positioning has you feeling claustrophobic, you should know: people will fill in the blanks for you. Every positive trait comes with a thousand associations. Jimmy John’s says they’re freaky fast, but we also know they’re high quality and delicious. Why else would quick delivery be so important? People are impatient because the food is good. So “freaky fast” tells us everything we need to know.

Your one, strong statement will tell us all we need to know about you. And your confidence – the fact that you have the gumption and sophistication to only talk about one thing – will make us trust you and want to do business with you. Less is more here. Pick one thing.

Luckily, most billboard ads seem to grasp this concept.

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