“Give me ambiguity – or give me something else.” – t-shirt slgoan

Are you a Jack of all topics – master of none?

When people look at your website and marketing material, are they confused by all the different things you offer?

Do you feel like your business and career are all over the map?

Do you find it hard to, as speaker Joe Calloway says, “pick a lane”?

Explorer Daniel Boone once said, “I can’t say I was ever lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.”

A lot of us are bewildered by what our speciality is.

And if WE’RE bewildered, our potential clients will be bewildered.

Ambiguity produces apathy. Confused customers will be reluctant to hire us because they’re not sure what we do and whether it will worth their valuable time and money to work work us.

Here’s a proprietary process I’ve developed to help my clients get clear about how they can POP! out of their pack by being one-of-a-kind vs. one-of-many.

Once we clarify their USP (Unique Strategic Positioning); we create an umbrella brand to connect all their business activities so they generate maximum pay-off for their efforts.

Sam Horn’s 5 P Approach to Building an Umbrella Brand

P = Problem

What problems are your target customers facing? Picture one of them in bed at night and s/he can’t sleep because s/he is worrying about . . . . what? What is this person’s name? Put me in his/her head. Are they single? Married? How old? Kids? How many people does s/he manage? What is s/he frustrated about? What can’t s/he figure out?

Now put “quotes” around those concerns so you’re voicing their Zeitgeist and articulating the probelms that are bothering your target customer.

P = Premise

Now, what’s your premise about those problems? It doesn’t have to be that way. There’s a better way. More effective way. More profitable way. Safer, quicker way. Less stressful way.

P = Process, Program, Product

And I’ve got the way. Here’s my 10 step process to alleviate those problems. Here’s my half-day program on how to prevent those problems. Here’s my book and audio products on how to turn-around those problems.

P = Promise

And here’s my promise to you. I will not waste your valuable time on ivory tower theories that don’t work in the real world. I will not rehash ideas you’ve heard 100 times before. You can trust me to do . . . . what? Dig deep and pull up your passionate purpose reagarding what your target customers can count on you to do. State where you’re coming from in a heartfelt way so customers know what you stand for – and what you won’t stand for.

P = Positioning

Here’s my positioning. Think about your competitors. What do they do you don’t like? How do you zig where they zag? What’s the norm in your industry? How can you be the opposite vs. the obvious? (Enterprise Rent-A-Car did this masterfully by locating in neighborhoods instead of at airports).

Once you figure out your 5 P’s, the next step is to create a clear, current, compelling, congruent, commercially-viable message and mission that you roll out through a variety of coordinated formats so everything supports each other and scales your visibility, impact and results in record time.

Subscribe to this blog to receive my next post where I’ll explain how to crystallize a 5 C Message and Mission which is the next step to building an umbrella brand that helps you break out vs. blend in.

Tiip #5 on How to Develop a Profitable USP – Unique Selling Proposition

Capitalize on POP! Culture

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and lern how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck

Clients and POP! program participants often ask, “How can I come up with fresh ideas to make my business stand out?”

How? You emulate jazz pianists.

A jazz pianist “riffs” off standard chords to make new music.

Entrepreneurs “riff” off POP! culture to make new marketing messages.

For example, a clever entrepreneur who offers tours of downtown Wash DC via Segway (the motorized scooter you stand on) calls his business “Segs in the City.”

A client opening a yoga studio asked me to help her create a current, “hip” ad campaign to capture public interest. We found it while looking through magazines to kick-start ideas. A full-age ad featured tennis champ Pete Sampras with a milk mustache and the slogan “Got milk?” We looked at each other and smiled and said simulataneously, “Got Yoga?”

Her resulting ads and posters accomplished her purpose of attracting new customers who were drawn in by her two-word question.

One of the most POPular USP’s of the last decade is a result of “riffing” off a well-known saying.

Two 20-something advertising guys were hired to create a memorable tourism promotion for Las Vegas.

Jason Hoff and Jeff Candido kept “noodling and doodling,” (their words), to crystallize a concept that would get across the message that Las Vegas was changing its 1990’s focus from being a family-friendly vacation destination to being an R-rated resort for adults.

One of them mentioned an iconic phrase once used by traveling salesmen, “What happens here, stays here.” Their eyes lit up and that became “What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas.”

How can you do this to create a profitable USP – Unique Selling Proposition – for your business?

Get out a stack of magazines and newspapers and have pen and paper nearby. Start looking through them, “noddling and doodling,” while keeping your eyes and mind open for ideas and phrases that POP! out.

Write down anything and everything that catches your eye. If it catches your eye, it will probably catch other people’s eye.

Once you’ve generated a dozen options, let the word play begin.

Start substituting key words in the POP! culture phrases with words that pertain to your business, product or service. Keep playing with options until something POP!s.

Test-market that option by running it by your colleagues and customers to see if it’s viable.

Ask them, “Does it get your favorable attention? Does it motivate you to want to know more? Is it memorable and something you’d repeat to others?”

If so, this could turn into a profitable USP – Unique Selling Proposition – that helps your business stand out from its crowd.

Want 24 more ways to develop attention-grabbing marketing messages and USP’s that help your business get noticed . . . for all the right reasons? They can be found in my POP! book (which Seth Godin calls “revolutionary”) which can be purchased on

Sam Horn’s Tip #2 for Creating Your USP:

POP! out of your Pack with an Easy-to-Say-and-Remember Name for Your Business, Brand, Product and Service

Have you ever burned your fingers on one of those really hot cups of coffee at Starbucks?

Do you put one of those “cardboard insulating sleeves” around the cup so your fingers won’t get burned?

If you were in that business, it’d be hard to stand out, wouldn’t it?

After all, people don’t really notice those carboard insulating sleeves; they all look alike.

Well, they may look alike but if you give your product an easy-to-say-and-remember name, it will help you POP! out of the pack.

That’s exactly what Jay Sorenson did. He created a multi-million dollar business by giving those common cardboard insulating sleeves a clever name – Java Jacket.

Sorenson says, “Java Jacket has such dominant market awareness, people who meant to call our competitors call us instead because they can’t remember our competitors name.”

That’s a profitable USP when people who meant to call your competitors call YOU instead because your name is top of mind.

Want to know how to create an easy-to-say-and-remember brand or business name that POP!s your USP?

Use alliteration.

Alliteration is when words start with the same sound. Alliteration makes our language lyrical and gives people’s mind a hook on which to hang a memory.

Test it out.

Say Dunkin Croissants. Best Purchase. Dirt Vacuum. Those words sound clunky, don’t they?

Now say Dunkin Doughnuts. Best Buy. Dirt Devil.

Hear how the alliteration makes those names easier-to-say-and remember?

If you are looking for a USP – Unique Selling Proposition – that helps your business, brand, product and service get noticed for all the right reasons — create an alliterative name that makes it easy to repeat and remember. It will keep YOU top-of-mind.

Sam’s Horn’s Tip #1 for Identify Your USP:

Do the opposite, not the obvious.

Enterprise wanted to enter the crowded car rental industry but Hertz and Avis owned the majority of the market.

Hmmm…how can you compete with the “big boys?”

One way to distinguish yourself from competitors is to study them and ask what your competitors have in common . . . and then don’t do that!

What did the other car rental agencies have in common? They were all situated next to airports.

So, Enterprise located in neighborhoods.

Another way to identify a USP (unique selling proposition) is to ask yourself, “What don’t my competitors offer that customers want?”

Well, none of the car rental companies were offering door-to-door service.

So, Enterprise was first-to-market by offering to pick up and drop off customers from their home/hotel.

As a result of identifying two clear USP’s – two offerings none of their competitors could match — guess who is now the #1 car rental agency in the United States?

That’s right. Enterprise.

If you want to stand out from your crowd, lead it, don’t follow it.

One of the best ways to identify your USP is to innovate, not duplicate. Do the opposite, not the obvious.