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Single-minded propositions: why your campaign needs one and how to write it

Angus Chalmers

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Single Minded Propositions

It’s time for your new campaign. The objectives are set. The brief is written. Your product or service is ready to have its time in the sun. The creative team stands ready to work up concepts that, ideally, are original, compelling, and generate impactful results for your brand. Naturally, the brief is where the killer idea for this campaign will come from. But what part of it – more than any other – will determine its success?

If you answered “the single-minded proposition” then congratulations, you’re either on the same wavelength as us or read the title of this blog.

What is a single-minded proposition (SMP)? Why do you need one? We’ll look at those questions and more but, put simply, a single-minded proposition ensures your campaign can achieve its full potential.

Without one (or with a poor one) you’ll sink into the sea of sameness and never shine like your brand should.

What is a single-minded proposition?

Your campaign message in one clear, compelling sentence. It’s your creative lodestar that will determine everything yet to come.

Within the SMP, you’ll have the fundamental core for all the resulting messaging. As such, you need to drill down and determine what you want to say.

The key part of the SMP is the “single”. This is not a time to cram in every aspect of your brand essence.

“Should we include X and Y in there too?”

No. Single. One thing.

Now, what exactly that thing is can vary. Most obviously, it could be a benefit.

Purchase X and achieve Y. That might sound nice and concise, but still runs the risk of being too vague.

Adopt our solutions and achieve greater productivity. That fits the same template but is so fuzzy that it’s essentially meaningless.

Do you have a specific benefit to hinge your campaign upon? Perhaps your product improves efficiency by a specific percentage. There may be an average profitability increase you can reference.

Numbers are powerful in advertising and marketing. They’re precise and add credibility to your claims. They make benefits clear and understandable. If you’ve got a concrete outcome that you can deliver, say so.

If you’ve got more than one key benefit, pick the most attention-grabbing and zero in on that. The others can come through in body copy or other collateral.

Why does the SMP matter?

All of this might sound like a daunting prospect. Imagine all the work going into creating a single sentence – one that will never even be seen in public!

In reality, the SMP doesn’t have to be scary. You’re not alone. If you’ve got a crystal-clear direction you want to lay out, that’s wonderful. If not, you can work with your agency to pin it down. Discussion and refinement will bring it to life.

The SMP matters precisely BECAUSE so much work has gone into it. The human mind can’t process too many messages at once. You’re finding a hook – the juicy bit of information that will catch your audience’s attention and reel them in, assisted by a compelling concept and excellent supporting material.

Remember that people are fundamentally emotional. According to the IPA, emotional advertising is almost twice as effective and memorable compared to purely rational content (31% vs 16%).

Put aside what features your product and service can offer for a moment. How do you want your audience to feel if they choose you? Do you want to them to possess a new sense of determination and clarity regarding their own business, or even peace of mind and freedom after you’ve removed an obstacle that induces stress and worry in their daily life?

Here is one small example courtesy of Apple, who suddenly became the de rigeur choice of creatives in the 2000s, inspired by their brand essence of “Think Different.”

1,000 songs in your pocket. This is how the original iPod was launched in 2001. At the time, the very few digital music players had limited space – perhaps enough for an album or two at most. With one short sentence, the iPod staked its claim. All that music in a compact package. Nobody’s going to forget that.

How to write your SMP

The time has come to put pen to paper. Where do you start? If you’re in the agribusiness or animal health sectors, feel free to get in touch and we’ll walk you through it.

 1. Pin down the most important features of your product or service

Start it simply. Of course your product or service has something unique to offer or it wouldn’t exist. Your SMP might be dramatic – maybe you blow the competition out the water. Maybe it’s more subtle – you offer something similar to competitors, but your reputation for exceptional customer service lends greater confidence to potential customers. Whether major or minor, write them down. Create a list and be as specific as possible.

2. How do your features translate into benefits?

Your product or service does X. What does that mean for your customer? Ideally, here is the place to bring in specific numbers to give credibility to your offering. It’s also the place to name the emotions you wish to evoke.

3. Choose your winner

It’s time. Pick one bright and compelling idea to form your SMP. Don’t worry about the others for now. They can come later. Ideally, have any personas you’ve created to identify your targets handy and make sure your SMP speaks to them too.

You need to choose a message that stands front and centre. This will make it memorable and compelling. Overstuffed ads that try to say everything end up saying nothing.

Remember: every ad or piece of marketing is a chance to tell your brand’s story. Take time in getting it right. If you need any help whatsoever – whether it’s helping sow the seeds of an early idea or bringing your vision to life – we’re ready to help.

Let’s dig deeper and let your brand thrive. Get in touch.

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