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Essentials to know about a ‘single-minded proposition’

Great marketing success comes from keeping your communications focused, engaging and simple to ‘get’ - but that isn’t always so simple to achieve.

It relies on having a powerful message, wrapped in a strong idea that inspires, excites and resonates with your target audiences. A single-minded proposition (SMP) is the key to unlocking the magic in all of that. It is sometimes also referred to as unique selling proposition (USP).

What it is

A single-minded proposition is the foundation or promise that sits behind the best campaigns promoting a product, service, brand, or company.

It’s an internally agreed strategy reduced to a single short sentence, stating the ONE most compelling reason for your target audience to buy from you. It is the one main reason or thought that will create a preference for you. It’s the most important thing to say and be memorable for, that will prompt interest from prospects. 

It is sometimes referred to as your point of difference or unique selling point. If there is one, then you can lean into that, but in reality there is nearly always someone else offering something very similar, or who will be soon.

For this reason, the best single-minded propositions are not just a matter of what you do, nor just about a single feature or benefit. A SMP must help you stand apart in a more enduring way.  It’s a promise that can only be true of you, representing what you stand for.

How to arrive at it

This is not easy and takes some deep consideration across many aspects of your business, culture, offering and your audience motivations. You are looking for a golden nugget of insight that others haven’t seen or highlighted, or that lifts your offering into a bigger picture thought that your audiences will passionately relate to.

Start by analysing the features and benefits and competitive comparisons of your offering – but most importantly, sit in your customers’ shoes and think about why they should be attracted to your product, service and company.

Consider how their and your values might meet; how you work with customers; any process or service aspects that set you apart; what customers currently do instead; what wider benefit they are looking for; what frustrations might exist for them that you/your product or service might help to resolve. What would be the most motivating thing you could say to grab their interest? Think about what’s topical or going on in the world more generally too, that might give you a unique platform or message opportunity. Talk to customers, get their input on what they see as being special or the most important, and test out what excites them about you and your offering/product. 

Try and write down your single-minded proposition thought, like an elevator pitch, in as short a sentence as possible. Don’t try to make it a creatively crafted headline, that will complicate and confuse things at this stage. The SMP is not meant to appear public-facing, it’s an internal phrase to inform the creative direction/brief for the outward-facing headline or campaign concept.

Clarity on the SMP is important before trying to express it in a headline, tagline or a creative campaign, as this ensures a decisive focus on the most fundamental premise first.

It must be a winning thought that you want to instil in the minds your target audience that will give you the competitive edge.  

What’s next

This can then be brought to life creatively, i.e. be developed into ideas that express the SMP in headlines and pictures, be that at product, service or brand level - for ads, sales presentations, PR - or best of all to work across it all at campaign level.

Creative development work centered on one SMP will result in far stronger ideas than trying to come up with anything that crams in lots of, often confused, thoughts. This will dilute the message and the takeout. Body copy can carry some other details if necessary, so don’t let all that supplementary information get in the way of a clear single-minded creative theme/hook.  

You should aim to bring the single-minded proposition to life in a catchy, attention-grabbing and memorable way.  A simple statement of fact, or even a promise, is often not enough to work effectively, as it will probably not give you instant standout or make you significantly memorable.

B2B companies are less competitive if they don’t invest in this stage.

It’s where the adage ‘sell the sizzle not the sausage’ comes into play. Psychology plays a key role in marketing success, with creative ideas tapping into our subconscious attraction, influencing our choices for our (limited) attention. So, to really stand out your SMP needs to be enlivened creatively to grab attention.

Looking at outward expressions in some of the best known B2B brand taglines and/or campaign themes that are at the forefront of our minds, point us to the clever insight that was put into, and came from, the SMP stage. E.g. IONOS, the digital website advisor for small businesses, has a smashing TV advertising campaign featuring Aunt Helga. The SMP for the brand campaign will have been along the lines of the ‘No nonsense digital partner with attitude’ or ‘Making modern tech for business easy peasy’.

Make it great

The following criteria should be considered in making sure your creative conceptual expression of the proposition is the best it can be:

  • Does it help you stand apart from competitors?

  • Is it memorable and/or sufficiently catchy for recall?

  • Does it evoke an emotional reaction?

  • Is the benefit instantly clear?

  • Is it keeping with your company brand personality/tone?

  • Does it have the legs to run across all activities that you need?

  • Does it translate internationally (if required)

Or simply think about the ‘RUM’ test - is the concept or idea relevant, unexpected and memorable? If not, perhaps you need to think again. A great single-minded proposition can have a huge impact on your marcomms success, so invest to get it strong and clear and you’ll reap the benefits.

If you need support in identifying and defining a single-minded proposition for your company, brand, product or campaign – and working that through into creative comms, materials or a full campaign - talk to us at Clear B2B, where we are proud of our award-winning campaigns centred around stand out SMPs. Contact Rachel to find out how we can help you gain competitive advantage.

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