Production-212-Logo-1By Dave Foxx

I got a tremendous response to last month’s column about the “Rules of Production,” mainly from producers who’ve been in the business for a while and have other producers working for them. Almost uniformly, they said they passed it on to their underlings to help them burn their ears in, as most of them are fairly new to producing. I got one other response a few days later from one of those underlings working for a UK production group, asking about Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and how to discern what it should be. It’s a fair question, and one that even some very seasoned producers could use some help with.

Let me begin by asking a question: What does Domino’s Pizza sell? I’ll give you a hint. It’s NOT pizza. If you brought me copy for Domino’s that extolled their steaming hot, cheesy, meaty, delicious pizza, I would likely smack you on the side of your head.

Another question: What does Volvo sell? While Volvo is a much-respected worldwide auto manufacturer from Sweden, they most decidedly do not sell cars. Bring me copy that talks about the sleek, sexy lines of the new XC60, and I would probably tell you to start looking for a new job.

Last question: What does Oreck sell? Perhaps you’d say a vacuum cleaner that sucks… a lot. {BUZZER} Wrong again! Another back of the hand slapped!

This list can go on forever, because for every manufacturer, large or small, every restaurant chain, airline or movie theater group, the product or service they offer is most decidedly not the obvious thing they’re selling. Domino’s sells service. It’s the “delivered to your door” part that they sell. Volvo sells safety. Oreck sells a clean environment for you and your family.

Think about all the ad campaigns you see every year for various carmakers. I’ve already mentioned Volvo as the “safety” car. Lincoln sells style, as does Infinity. Chevrolet wraps itself in the American flag and sells hot dogs and apple pie. Recently, Chrysler has been selling great savings… and the list goes on.

It all comes down to a really simple concept: if you can appeal to someone on a basic emotional level, the product you want them to spend money on becomes more attractive, by association. So the focus of your production needs to be on the emotional appeal, not the end product.

A very tired, but still very valid example is Coca-Cola. How many bottles of this very sweet, brown colored, caramel flavored soft drink do you think they would sell if they gave that description? Oh, probably none. Instead, they sell ice-cold refreshment and deliver millions of bottles every year. Think about all the words you hear in most beer commercials: flavor, smooth, crisp, and dozens more. Not one word about belching, acting goofy now and having to urinate a lot later.

Back in the late 1950s, Pontiac put up a lot of billboards with pictures of their cars, draped with swimsuit-clad women. They weren’t selling cars – they were selling sex, or more precisely, sex appeal. The difficult lesson Pontiac learned from this campaign, which raised quite a stir in the “Ozzie and Harriet” mindset of most Americans, was that it’s not the men who make the decisions on big ticket items like cars and homes. It always comes back to the women. It was a short-lived ad campaign, but its heart was in the right place, just with the wrong gender.

Here’s the key question, “What makes this business more desirable to purchase from than its competition?” The answer must always be emotional. There are only so many emotions. It HAS to fit into one of them.

Romantic love

Love of family

Glamorous Lifestyle

Protecting Health & Safety of Self or Family

Vanity (Keeping up with the Jones family)

Getting superior product for less money

Ease of Use

Flavor Appeal

This list is by no means complete. In recent years, we have turned from a “me” oriented society to a “we” oriented society, so green appeal has come into play. Save the Planet is the underlying emotion of many advertisements for everything from Hybrid Automobiles to Organic Food. Whatever the passion of the moment is though, it always boils down to an emotional appeal.

If you’re an imaging guy or gal, you’re probably wondering how this applies to what you do. This is where another tenet of advertising comes into play. If there is any way a product or service can be demonstrated, it will have exponentially more impact. For CHR radio, it’s all about lifestyle. Having fun, living large and being happy are key to the CHR image. This is why screaming winners always make wonderful promos. More subtly, if variety is your stations calling card, you’d better display musical variety in all your promos. Your promos need to be a microscopic version of your radio station, demonstrating what your station has to offer that’s better than the competition. If you’re imaging a News/Talk operation, the product is intellectual, but you must sell it emotionally. News junkies LOVE to think they are well informed. Ta and da! You know what your USP will be every time. Stick to that USP and it will have a HUGE impact on your stations ratings.

To our newfound producer friend in the UK, if you can learn this ONE lesson, you will undoubtedly become an excellent producer. You’ll be sought after by radio stations and advertising agencies all over the world. You’ll be able to command amazing salaries, fly to exotic locations on corporate jets to wine and dine potential clients at 5-star restaurants. You’ll vacation wherever you want in luxurious penthouses of the best hotels from Hong Kong to Dubai to New York and Sydney.

Or not….

Had you going for a minute though, didn’t I?

For my track on this month’s CD, a promo that uses Vanity as its USP. Being able to meet and get to know a major recording artist is something people ordinarily don’t get to do, but if you listen to Z100, we can make it happen.