Every marketing communications brief has one in some form or another. Some agencies call it a “Single Minded Proposition.” Others refer to it as a “Unique Selling Point,” or “Single Most Important Message.” Whatever you call it, at Verdi we take it very seriously. We (surprisingly) are humble enough to know that a communication is lucky to be remembered at all, considering the clutter of messages with which it competes. And if our communication is not remembered for our SMIP, well then, that’s just wrong!
Why the SMIP?
Creative professionals are easily excited by a challenge. It’s in our blood. We love to explore the possibilities of an assignment. I call it “walking around my cage.” If it’s not clear from the outset what our goal needs to be—we can be easily distracted. A good SMIP acts as the boundaries of our exploration. We can always use it as a check to be certain we’re proceeding along a road that leads to awareness of said important issue–since that is what after all makes this project worthwhile.
The SMIP governs not just the content, but the tone and style of a communication. It reinforces the client’s brand while making a compelling offer that leads to the next step in the sales continuum. If the project is designed to generate leads, the SMIP provides credible evidence to compel the prospect to take an action. This could be a call from a rep, a sales presentation, a visit to a landing page to learn more about a product or service, or even to visit a brick-and-mortar outlet to make a transaction.
If the SMIP doesn’t lead to the next step in the sales process, it affects the core of the program and at best, won’t be as successful as it might have been—leaving money on the table. Worst case, the project might not work at all. The good news is that if the SMIP is wrong and the project doesn’t succeed—it’s often easy to assign blame!
SMIPs gone wild
What happens when the client absolutely, positively can’t come up with a single most important point?
The agency makes one up that it likes. This can result in crazy success or spectacular failure, but often wins a creative award. Agencies like to have their work noticed no matter what point is important.
What happens if the client can’t decide which point is the most important out of several that are all a bit important?
The communication that results is unclear and no one loves it. The agency doesn’t show it to anyone. The client marketing director leaves it off of the resume. It wins no awards, and six months later, no one remembers it.
What if the SMIP is just plain incorrect?
The good news is that the results are often immediate and clear. If you can look at a creative implementation and immediately understand what the SMIP was, and you go to market with that execution and it doesn’t work the way you expected—it might be time to regroup and revise the SMIP. We have saved many programs this way. It’s one of the major reasons we track them and analyze them so carefully. By revising, refining, researching, and testing the SMIP and the resultant communications that arise from it, we have turned lackluster programs into successful efforts.
What happens when we get it right?
It is our emphasis on the SMIP and on our ability to build communications around it that is at the heart of much of our success as an agency. And it’s the single most important reason that compels our clients to work so hard on getting it right.