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QUIZ: Which Sales Message Is Best?

This morning a reader asked: "If you're selling a product that most people consider a commodity, what kind of message will help us to stand out from the crowd?"

It's an important question because the tendency in today's business world is to turn EVERYTHING into a commodity. And when that happens, you can kiss your profits (and ultimately your sales job) goodbye.

With that in mind, here are three possible messages for a local bank. Pick the one that most effectively "de-commoditizes" the services that the bank provides:

  • MESSAGE #1: "Our customers love to bank with us because of the exceptional way we treat people."
  • MESSAGE #2: "Our bank offers free checking and no monthly fees for overdraft protection."
  • MESSAGE #3: "We've been here for a 100 years...and we'll be here for your great grandchildren."

Click here for the correct answer »

The correct answer is... MESSAGE #3. Here's why.

The challenge here isn't just to de-commoditize the offering, but to differentiate the offering by positioning against the competition.

MESSAGE #1 de-commoditizes but does not differentiate. Having good customer service makes banking less of a commodity, but all banks claim to have good customer service. So the message remains trite and ineffective. (BTW, this was the bank's actual sales message!)

MESSAGE #2 differentiates but does not de-commoditize. Offering more for the money makes you a cheaper alternative, but other banks will simply follow suit. At that point, you're all in a price war, and therefore still a commodity. Just one that command an even lower margin.

MESSAGE #3 both differentiates AND de-commoditizes -- and it does so without impacting your profit margins. It does so by positioning the bank against what people DISLIKE MOST about banking, and associated the bank with what they WANT MOST from a bank.

What people dislike most about banks is currently tied to current recession. Defining the bank as existing in a continuum -- starting 100 years ago and continuing into the foreseeable future -- disassociates it from today's economic woes. And emphasizing the local character of the bank differentiates it from the big banks (the competition) who are part of the Wall Street and Washington crowd.

At the same time, mentioning a multiple-generation family associates the bank with stability and security, which are exactly what people want from a bank today.

READERS: This post came from my offer to write your sales message. I've already posted some of my rewrites in the post "Turn 'What's Your Job' into a Sales Opportunity." However, my rewrite clinic is still (for the time being) open for business. So send me your ugly sales message and I'll see if I can rewrite it so that it actually sells. EMAIL ME HERE.

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