All Worked Up About Hedgehogs
Sometimes we buy online to save time.
Other times we buy online to save money.
So what, exactly, is the “one big thing,” the unique selling proposition of online business?
When we can’t wait the day or two for Amazon Prime, we buy from local brick-and-mortar companies to save time. And when those stores are having a price-driven event we buy from them to save money. So what is the “one big thing,” the unique selling proposition of buying from brick-and-mortar?
When we have no chosen provider in a product or service category, we try to save both time and money as we look for reasons to have confidence in one company above the others. We’re hoping to find a provider that we feel won’t let us down.
Did you notice that phrase, “When we have no chosen provider…?”
The goal of advertising is to become a person’s chosen provider long before they need what you sell.
During the 25 years I’ve been writing these Monday Morning Memos, I’ve discovered that most of the time my readers agree with me. My writings confirm their suspicions and give voice to their long-held beliefs. But when I play the role of myth-buster, I get an altogether different reaction. I played the role of myth-buster 2 weeks ago.
Will you give me a second chance to make myself clear?
Yes, I profoundly disagree with the belief that Hedgehog Thinking – focusing all your efforts on “one big thing” – is the key to category dominance.
But I do agree that “one big thing” Hedgehog Thinking gives you focus and clarity.
Focus and clarity give you energy, enthusiasm, optimism, creativity, problem-solving ability, and stamina. When you lack focus and clarity, you drift aimlessly in the darkness. Jesus spoke of this principle in his famous Sermon on the Mount in the good news of Matthew chapter 6:
“When your eye (vision) is single (focused,) your body is full of light. But when your eye is clouded (unclear) your body is full of darkness. And if the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
When Jesus spoke about “one big thing,” he wasn’t talking about category dominance. He was talking about the joy of having a purpose.
Your focus, clarity and passion motivate you.
But your focus, clarity and passion do not motivate your customers. They have passions and motives of their own.
Never let an ad writer convince you that customers will choose you because you are passionate about “one big thing.” It simply isn’t true.
Customers will choose you because they like you. And there are many little things that can make them like you. This is why storytelling – advertising – should always come from the “many little things” perspective of the fox.
Translated into the language of the ad writer, “many little things” is called benefit stacking. “Many little things” is also the basis of the narrative arc of storytelling. And telling a good story is how we create customer engagement through advertising. It is how you become a person’s chosen provider.
Let your customers see a reflection of themselves in you and they will choose you every time.
We don’t fall in love because of “one big thing.” We fall in love because of “many little things.”
Your passion is priceless. It is golden. It gives you a sense of purpose. And passion comes from having an eye that is “single” – focused on one big thing.
Your passion is what drives you.
Your passion does not drive your customer.
Category dominance is rarely determined by passion, or even by quality. You can easily name a dozen product and service categories whose leaders are not the most passionate companies in their categories, or even the best. Category leaders dominate because customers choose them. They dominate because they connect with more people and make more sales.
Live like a hedgehog.
Advertise like a fox.
Roy H. Williams
The only downside of focused enthusiasm is that it creates a cognitive bias. When your principal tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.