The Contrast Principle in psychology states that decisions are not made in isolation. Rather, we look for the differences among our available choices. So how does this impact your marketing?
Tom Wanek, here, and you’re watching Wizard Marketing TV, where business owners learn persuasive tools and techniques to spark miraculous growth.
Stay tuned, and I’ll give you a technique to quickly position your brand in the mind of you customer. It’s a technique that will bring a stampede of customers through your doors.
Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen says, “We are all wired to notice differences. We are not conscious of it, but we are scanning and looking for similarities and differences all the time. Contrast is what we notice, and it’s what gives a design its energy. So you should make elements that are not the same clearly different, not just slightly different. Designs with strong contrast attract interest, and help the viewer make sense of the visual. Weak contrast is not only boring, but it can be confusing.”
Contrasting in marketing is the degree to which your message strikes a clear and unmistakable difference between you and your competition. And, it’s your job as a marketer to frame the buying conversation for the consumer.
Let me say that again, because it’s that darn important. It’s your job to frame the buying conversation. Don’t leave this up to chance. Don’t leave it up to your customer to figure out on her own. And certainly don’t allow your competition to control and steer the conversation in their favor.
Your objective is to clearly demonstrate how your product or service differs. Make an apples-to-oranges comparison—rising above the competition to become the obvious choice.
Never assume that your customer is aware of the sameness within your category. Tell them how everybody else does it … then, tell them how you’re better. Demonstrate this for your customer, if you can.
Think of this act of contrasting as driving an immovable wedge between the position you hold in the mind of your customer, and the inferior position held by your competition.
But allow me to warn you: Contrasting is only effective when you demonstrate these differences using specifics not generalities. And, the first company—competing in a given market—to successfully define their position and that of the competition typically wins the game.
Want an example or two of contrasting in advertising?
Ask and ye shall receive. Here’s one of my favorite examples from 5-Hour Energy:
“A typical energy drink comes with a lot of extra baggage 12 teaspoons of sugar, 200 calories, herbal stimulants and 16 ounces of fluid. This combination can make you feel wired up then let you down with a crash. So don’t drink energy drinks. Drink a 5-Hour Energy shot. It has zero sugar, zero herbal stimulants and as much caffeine as a cup of the leading premium coffee. And best of all only four little calories.”
Using 77 words—the approximate length of a 30-second ad—5-Hour Energy clearly contrasts the difference between their energy shot and those “canned” energy drinks swimming in calories and sugar. And notice the impressive amount of details provided:
• 12 teaspoons of sugar
• 200 calories
• Herbal stimulants and 16 ounces of fluid
• Zero sugar
• Zero herbal stimulants
• As much caffeine as a cup of the leading premium coffee
It gets even better. The added bonus is the natural language and conversational tone, and how 5-Hour Energy just comes out and says the thing. Words like, “extra baggage” and “wired up” are full of verbal richness and provides a clean break from the ho-hum clichés one typically finds in marketing and advertising.
Now here’s another example that I cherry-picked from an ad I wrote for a client of mine:
“Sure, most heating and cooling companies hire certified techs. But that’s not good enough. See, I want to hold my head up high and know deep in my heart that the job we do for our customers—the job we do for YOU—is picture perfect in every way.
That’s why we built our very own training facility in the back of our warehouse.
Just like a pilot learns on a flight simulator, we run each of our techs through the ringer … relentlessly training them to be ready for anything— from tiny little bugs to the downright ugly. So when my Home Comfort Champions visit your home, they’ll help you get the most life out of your system.
Why do we go to these seemingly ridiculous lengths? Cause, it’s your family’s home, comfort and safety—so the job’s gotta be done right.”
Notice how both examples first explain the category sameness. Notice how both brilliantly compare and contrast.
So how do you plan to do the same? How will you make an apples-to-oranges comparison—rising above the competition to become the obvious choice?
Tell me by sharing in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear what you came up with.
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