The Plumber for Female Republicans with Kids in the North Dallas Area
Kind of like "evil Patrick Dempsey." When you read that, did you picture it? Or, as Lewis Black once said in a famous bit, "If it weren't for that horse, I wouldn't have spent that year in college." When you hear that, you can't help but think, "What?!"
I enjoyed the entire article, but what is really worth your time is the second half of the piece, where he discusses how these concepts work with business. "For the purpose of this article, I'd like to distinguish between two types of businesses," Ellsberg writes, "those that solve a problem, vs. those that create an experience." He continues:
The vast majority of books on branding out there are focused on businesses that solve a problem, because that's what most businesses are focused.
In these books, you'll read about how the secret to great branding is to be extremely clear who your customer is, and what problem you're solving for them, all clearly articulated in a focused Unique Selling Proposition. These books advise you to pick the most focused, segmented niche possible. (Don't just be a plumber. . .Be "The Plumber for Female Republicans with Kids in the North Dallas Area" etc.)
If your business is focused on solving a problem, this is all great advice. However, useful as it may be for most businesses, this type of branding advice overlooks a second type of business, for which it is completely useless: businesses or individuals which are focused primarily on providing an experience.
For such people and businesses, all the talk about niches and USPs must go out the window. Instead we should be playing in the land of mystery, intrigue, creative tension, and human paradox discussed at the beginning of the article.
You've heard that before. It's one of the sea changes that's been sweeping over our industry for years now. The phrase "salesperson" gave way to "solutions provider" to better describe what a promotional consultant actually does. Now, with clients demanding more in terms of marketing campaigns and online interactions, the ability to provide an experience is becoming a requirement.