Being different from other companies is vital if you want a share of the market.  But how best to do it?

In my last piece I wrote about the benefit of having something unique – or at least highly unusual – in your sales offer.   And I suggested that if your product or service was not immediately seen as unique or at least unusual by those to whom you sell, then your advertising should be.

So the question is, how can advertising be made unique or unusual?

This turns out to be much easier than you might imagine, simply because most companies put out advertisements that look the same.  If you want to prove this then simply look at the websites of your rivals, and then get yourself on their email list.

(Incidentally if you are interested in seeing more of the information that we supply on marketing to schools you will find this at Schools Marketing: The Daily Report.)

But let’s imagine for a moment you are starting from scratch and that you sell lockers of the type that a lot of other people sell, with prices and delivery times that are similar to those of other firms.

If I were faced with writing this advertisement then I would try two different approaches and see which brought in the best results.

First I would put an interesting open question in the headline, such as

What is the one feature that makes the simple locker an aid to learning and another a barrier to learning?

In the commentary that follows I would write about the way lockers influence pupil and student behaviour (unlikely though that might seem), and then stress the ways in which the lockers I sell affect student behaviour.

It wouldn’t matter that other companies might sell the same type of locker, as long as they were not using this type of approach.  The advertising headline would most likely bring customers to my company.

Then second, I would use in another advert, a quirky approach.

Now before I give you an example of a quirky approach I would add that I would only do this if these conditions were met:

a)      Senior members of my company and my sales team were happy with this approach.  If they had doubts I would leave it, for one cannot sell anything if the sales team are not behind the approach.  And some people don’t like “quirky”.

b)      I was experienced as a copywriter or was willing to employ one who was an expert at quirky adverts.  Quirky is much harder to write than the earlier example so it needs someone with experience.

c)      I was willing to experiment and able to cope with receiving the occasional email back from a potential customer telling me I was an idiot.

The point is, quirky adverts are a matter of taste – and they will alienate some people.  But if those people are not buying from you anyway, this hardly matters.  What matters is, do they bring in some new customers to you?

So, my quirky headline might be:

A storage locker is not a storage locker unless it improves learning

And my advert would then say that different designs of locker affect student behaviour in different ways, and the function of the locker is not only to store student materials but also keep the materials in order so that the student gets a feeling of organisation.

Hence we sell lockers with moveable shelves inside.  This feeling of organisation may then well spread out to the student’s learning and enhance her or his performance.

So that would be my approach.  An open question, and a quirky headline in two different adverts sent a couple of weeks apart.

If you would like to know how I might apply that to your product or service, do call Stephen on 01604 880 927 or email

If you would like to read a little more, you might find The five key elements of a successful advertisement an interesting read.

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