MSP: Slow, Steady Progress

For two weeks, I’ve examined me selling proposition (MSP) branding. It’s one thing to theorize about it. How do you make it happen?

When is a brand truly MSP driven? How can you progress from your current branding proposition? These are unique selling proposition (USP), which presents brands in light of unique differences; emotional selling proposition (ESP), driven by consumers’ emotional selections; organization selling proposition (OSP), communicating an organization’s values as the primary means of driving consumer choice; and brand selling proposition (BSP), in which brands are cultish and are consumed on the basis of brand identity rather than product relevance.

It’s only a four step process, but it will still take time:

  1. Ask your customers what creates distance between them and your brand. Ask what would make them stick with your brand no matter what service or product failure occurred. What would inspire them to rave about your brand? What would make them so enamored of it they would recommend it to their best friends? Take all the answers into consideration and carry on to step two.

  2. Go into your workshop or kitchen. Assume your service or product is produced on a one-to-one basis, that every order is handled by you personally. There’s no grabbing the product from the storeroom, no routine. It’s 100 percent personal. How would your product or service differ from its current manifestation? How would those differences benefit the customer? Most important, what characteristics would induce a customer to exclaim, “Wow! This is made for me, and no one else!”

    I’m not asking you to start research and development (R&D) and production processes over. I’m suggesting you rediscover the core spirit of your brand, the essence of its personality that makes a customer feel it’s produced for her alone, not for a mass market. Select the three top definers and evaluate them. How could they leverage the advantages of Internet technology? How can you influence production with the customer in mind? Examples are the perfume I had made for me in Japan and personalized beauty products composed on the Net.

  3. Translate everything you’ve learned into a dialogue that could occur between your brand and its customers. Feedback you’ve gathered so far isn’t a concrete product solution. It should lead you to a process that engages the consumer with your brand. The process should persuade each consumer the brand is there for him alone. He should perceive his input in the solution. That’s why it’s important you don’t proceed directly to a product solution. Instead, ensure the customer becomes part of the solution.
  4. Bear Pepsi’s unfortunate experience in mind. It introduced a consumer advisory panel gimmick. It half-heartedly attempted to engage the brand’s fans. The strategy had no finality or continuity. Don’t embark along the MSP road, run out of steam halfway, then fool yourself that you’ve reached the MSP destination. Consumers see through this instantly. The cynicism reflected on the brand won’t do it any favors.

    It’s essential to genuinely mean everything you do and say when building an MSP-driven brand. Don’t try to turn all your existing services or products into an MSP solution. To begin the translation process, pick one service or product that will be reinvigorated as an MSP solution. Test every step. Await customer feedback. Then evaluate the advantages to continuing the process.

MSP branding is a difficult to gain proficiency in, particularly for well-established brands with characteristics and relationships that are already firmly established. You cannot turn a brand into an MSP practitioner overnight. It can take years. So you’d better start now. In two years, it may be too late.

Don’t miss ClickZ’s Weblog Business Strategies in Boston, June 9-10.

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