You won’t believe what they’re selling in the men’s room

I frequently speak to clients about finding and exploiting their Dominant Selling Idea – a concept explained in the book “Why Johnny Can’t BrandRediscovering the Lost Art of the Big Idea” by Bill Schley, Jr. Carl Nichols. (pub. N.W. Widener)

So I’m naturally on the lookout for Dominant Selling Idea or DSI being used “in the wild.”  That is, an obvious implementation of the authors’ admonition that to set your business apart, you must seize the #1 position in a specialty of your choice. Your customers will follow you to the other sectors of your business if they can believe you are #1 at something that matters to them.

Stopping in the washroom at a quick service restaurant I found just such an example. The owners had installed one of those fancy, sleek hand-drying appliances. It’s called a Dyson Airblade and rather than holding your hands under a high-speed fan that bursts your eardrums, or blows the water back on your clothing, you insert your hands vertically into a channel that drys from both sides at once. The brilliance of this engineering design met clever marketing because the name of the product and the DSI is printed on top boldly for the user to see.

Dyson Airblade  The fastest, most hygienic hand dryer.

Let’s consider how this slogan or tagline stacks up based on the theory of  Schley and Nichols.

First there must be a superlative claim, and that is fastest and most hygienic.

Second it must be important. Clearly, when you are in a public restroom cleanliness is top of mind. Getting in and out in a hurry is also understandably important.

Third, the claim must be credible.  One need not touch a button to start the appliance and working from both sides at once, the drying process is much faster than many other electric dryers. Some might prefer a paper towel but the claim is not about all drying methods but just about electric dryers. And I recall that many dryers I have used were under-powered or that looked filthy. I have no trouble believing their claim.

Next the the DSI must be measurable or tangible. And in this case the user’s personal experience readily advises.

Finally, the claim must be own-able. If Dyson is the first to make the claim and effectively spread the declaration around the world’s public restrooms, then they will own the top of the mountain for this kind of product. There are some sections of Why Johnny Can’t Brand that refer to “memorable” as the final box to be checked when evaluating a DSI.  Here I think the meaning is not will you sing yourself to sleep repeating the company’s DSI tagline, but when you encounter the product, will you be able to associate it with their claim.  And in my mind, I will think, “Oh, one of those really fast, touch-free (clean) dryers.” 

If the authors’ theory holds, people who use Dyson commercial dryers will be more willing to buy one of the company’s expensive, deluxe consumer vacuum cleaners. And the article I saw yesterday says Dyson will be moving into electric vehicles.


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