AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

One-Minute MarketerHow Do You Differentiate?

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How Do You Differentiate?

It’s funny, we tend to remember things and moments when we were surprised: A startle, an angry outburst, a close call, an unexpected moment. The moment of surprise heightens our senses and makes an indelible mark in our mind. 20170820_104941

For most of advertising’s existence, the art of surprise has rested in the use of humor. A catchy turn of phrase or a visual joke technique has been the crutch to carry the surprise moment. The differentiation is not in the product, but in the laugh.

Yet sometimes the surprise is subtle, and in some cases more effective, than a joke. I saw one of these micro-surprises at the grocery story. I observed (not in a creepy way) several shoppers stop and look at the floor-mat ad and then look at the new product. 1 of the 2 people I observed bought the product.

The floor-mat achieved the element of surprise: It really stood out on the high gloss floor. And it contained a very important word to drive the differentiation home. And that word is “new.” In a world of yogurts, how do you differentiate? You start by surprising your customers, even if it is a micro-surprise. This surprise doesn’t need to be remembered, but it needs to tweak the mind just long enough for the customer to take a look at the new product.

Meeting people right where they are and not through a separate medium can have a strong impact on message communications and differentate you from all the yogurts in the world.




Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.