Differentiation with Sean D'SouzaJun 24, 2022
Sean DSouza: The way you look at any transaction is first am I interested in it? So that's the attraction. The second is the risk factor, which is pretty massive and the third or the last phase is differentiation. So, what really happens is when you go to buy a computer, you have to be say for instance attracted or you have to have a problem. So, the first two-three bags or am I the person which is the target profile? What is the problem that the new computer solving? And then how does it solve it? So you have the target profile problem and solutions?
Shireen Smith: Hello and welcome to the Brand Tuned podcast hosted by me, Shireen Smith, IP lawyer, marketer, and author of brand tune. The podcast focuses on how to design brands, avoiding commoditization, and intersecting them with intellectual property during the creation process. Before the episode begins, I just want to mention the Brand Tuned Accreditation course, which is all about how to create new brands. The brochure outlining the curriculum is downloadable on the brand schoon.com website.
My guest today is Sean DSouza, a cartoonist turned marketing strategist who has built his business psycho tactics from the ground up true to his podcasts named the three month vacation podcast. He's known for taking three months holiday every year. Sean welcome to the Brand Tuned podcast.
Sean DSouza: Oh, thank you so pleasure being here.
Shireen Smith: Yeah, I loved your brain audit book, you know, it's ideas are really invaluable. So I'd like to start by asking you to describe the analogy you draw between bags as an airport and, and the sales processin order to then discuss more differentiation and positioning.
Sean DSouza: So so people wonder why the customers back away at the last minute. So often, you go through a discussion where everything's almost ready to go. And then at the very last minute, they go off to think about it, just let me get back to you. And they think, well, maybe I've done something wrong. And usually you've not done something wrong, you've just left out something. And the analogy for this is like this, you get on a flight, and you put seven red bags on the flight. And then you get off at the other end, and you're waiting for your bags. And the first red bag comes along, you pick it out the second one, and then you get an orange bag, and then you get a polka dot bag. And then you get a purple bag, and then the third red bag, and the fourth red bag comes along, and the fifth thread bag. And then you get a whole bunch of black bags that come along. And now you go 123456 But you don't have the seventh one. So when you leave the airport, in, that's the problem you don't. And this is the kind of thing that happens in the brain of the customer is that you haven't removed all of those bags. And that's the problem you haven't given them, you're not trying to persuade them, you're not trying to convince them, you're not trying to coerce them, you're not trying to do all the fancy stuff, all you're doing is giving them the right information in the right sequence. And then they go, okay, I can go home now. And that's really what the brain audit is all about. It's about understanding what they are, how they need to roll out, and what's in each one of those bags.
Shireen Smith: Okay, so where does differentiation and positioning come in now process?
Sean DSouza: Strangely comes right to the end. I mean, first of all, the way you look at any transaction is first am I interested in it? So that's the attraction. The second is the risk factor, which is pretty massive. And the third or the last phase is differentiation. So what really happens is when you go to buy a computer, you have to be say, for instance, attracted or you have to have a problem. So the first two three bags are mid person, which is the target profile, what is the problem that the new computer solving? And then how does it solve it? So you have the target profile problem and solution, that's the attraction factor. So if you don't get then nothing happens. But the moment we get, oh, we have to buy a computer. All the objections come in, sorry. Oh, but we already have a computer. Why do we need this computer? You know, so, almost naturally, someone in the house will go by did you say your computer's just fine? Why are we spending all this? So the objections come in, those have to be sorted out, then we have the testimonials like who else has bought this computer? And why is it working for them? Then we have risk reversal. So these are all the risk factors, which is how, first How did you? How do you get the person attracted? How did you remove the risk? But when we finish answering all of these questions, then what we've done is build a case for a new computer. So I can buy a computer from anybody from any company. And that's where differentiation or uniqueness comes in, which is why you, why should I buy from you, when I can buy from anybody else.
So, we've made this wonderful case, but the last bag creates a lot of confusion. Well, not confusion, but definitely lost sales. You can see it at a ground level when you go out for coffee. And there are 17 cafes. So people say Oh, I'm the first cafe in London and the first cafe in Auckland. Sure, but what happens when 16 cafes come right next to you. Then the customer is making a decision. And they go. The reason I go to this cafe is for the coffee. The reason I go to this cafe is because of the atmosphere the reason I go to that Cafe is because they always give me a lolly, whatever you know. So in their brains, we're all or in our brain. We're always segregating based on what we see as unique. And strangely, what people think is okay, if I'm unique, then people only come to me, no, no, no, everybody knows that you and I, we don't go to the same cafe all day long. Or every day, we'll still go to different cafes, but we have that clarity in our mind. Who loses out on this other cafes that are just existing. So the only reason you go to the other cafe. So if there are 17 cafes, and you know, cafe A is for this reason, cafe B is for this series, and cafe C's for this reason, that leaves out 14 cafes. And the only reason you'll go to the cafes is because these three are not available. That's a really bad situation to be in.
Shireen Smith: So people have to be aware, but you exist to even consider you is initially
Sean DSouza: Correct. And in some categories that's already in place. So you know, you don't have to explain to somebody what an Indian restaurant or a Chinese restaurant is. So you're very quickly. Those kinds of categories. People already know stuff. But let's supposing you bring out a marketing book, like we have the brain audit. I don't know in that year, there might have been 10,000 marketing books, maybe 100,000 marketing books. So the immediate question the it's almost like a, what problem are you solving? Why should I buy your book comes right to the duck? What problem? are you solving for me that other marketing books haven't solved? So you have to? You have to answer that question otherwise, people, people, strangely, people are always looking to buy another marketing book. They're always looking to buy. They're always looking for another Spanish course, even though they've failed with the last Spanish course, because they're looking, how does this new Spanish course enable me to speak Spanish better. And if you ever tried to learn language, you or you've spoken to any people who try to learn another language, they probably have anywhere between two to five or six courses. You think why? But that's the problem. The problem is that we're always trying to find a more refined solution to our problem. And so we do that with phones as well, we buy another phone and another phone, when your phone in 2010 or 2000 did pretty much the same thing. It made a call and it texted so why do you buy a new phone? Because it solves a different problem. So at all times where whenever someone is selling something to you, they have to communicate what problem they're solving in, and essentially why they're different and how to reduce the risk of their selling stuff.
Shireen Smith: So what are some common challenges people have around how to differentiate?
Sean DSouza: Oh, that's easy. But easier, the biggest mistake that people make every single time is that they talk about their company. So they'll go Yeah, they'll talk about that company. And they'll say the reason you should work with our company. First of all, they are talking about their company, and then they'll, they won't give you what should be a uniqueness. They won't say one thing. So let's just break this up into two things for now, which is ironic considering you're talking about one thing.
So the first thing that people tend to do is they go, my company, and we'll just take a brand like is apple. And we are known because we make things seamlessly work with each other. When was the last time somebody said, I'm going out to buy Apple? No, we don't go out to buy Apple, we go to buy a specific iPhone, a specific iPad, a specific something. And if you're going to buy a refrigerator, or you're going to buy anything, you don't go out to buy Samsung, you don't go out to buy Cadbury you go to buy a specific product.
So when people say, my company is different for this reason, then you've already lost the person because they're not buying a company, they're buying a product, they're buying a service. And so the first thing that everybody has to do is like, go, oh, this is a keyboard. So what I don't care if it belongs to a company, because I don't look at the company, and you just assume that you're like the mouse chocolate company, when nobody knows, you know, the Mars bar where it comes from, nobody knows anything about them, that kind of, you're always selling the Mars bar, you're, you're not selling the company that it comes from. So that's yeah, that's the first thing that you have to consider that you cannot sell the company.
And almost everybody who tries to talk about uniqueness starts off with this is my company, and this is why we are so good. And the moment they do that they've already have lost you. But then after that, they go to the next level, and they lose you completely. Whereas they say like a carpet company, we do homes, and we do businesses. And you will what else is there? Since right homes and businesses, and the average person will say, Oh, we are fast. And we are I don't know we are cheap. Or a wetsuit company will say within were warm and where we're long lasting. And that's why we're unique. And the problem is that we can't you test that uniqueness by when you go away for a while, and you come back and you say why, but why are they unique? They go, Oh, I don't know, I think they were warm. And then the other person says, Oh, I think they said long lasting. And so you get you don't get this one message going out on a consistent basis. If you don't get that one message, then people will pick, pick whatever they feel like or nothing at all.
But when you have one message, then what you can do is you can dig deeper into that one message. And when you dig deeper into one message. I mean, what we explain in the course and stuff like that is that you can formulate that message in such a way that the person remembers it. And remember that for several years, not just for a minute. So I'll give you an example.
We have lots of things that psycho tactics, like we have books and courses and lots of stuff. And people ask why should I do a psycho tactics course now? Just remember that they've already subcategorized it, they should be asking, Why do you do the article writing course? Or why do you do the storytelling course. But I'm not going to bypass the question I'm going to go they've already gone from psycho tactics, which has X number of things to just courses. And I say, well, most people online, what they tend to do is they will get you to buy a course. And they will give you a money back guarantee. And they won't guarantee skill. And we don't give you a money back guarantee. But we guarantee the skill. And then, you know, I don't have to say that again to you. Because the message is formulated in such a way that you remember, Oh, I didn't join this course for money back. I already had my money before I gave it. I joined it for a different reason. I joined it to learn how to draw cartoons I learned how to learn how to stop tell stories better to learn. So I learned it for the skill and the guaranteeing that if I don't learn it, they'll give me your money back That's not the point I'm wasting all this time.
So once you can narrow it down to a specific thing, that's better now, that's still a category. If we were good to go to say the article writing course, then so usually what I do is when people say why should I join the course? I would say, what kind of course would you be interested in? And you go, Oh, I don't know, maybe like article writing. And you're always trying to get to that product? Because then I would say, well, most the difference between the articles, writing that you do with psycho tactics is that there are millions of articles on the internet now and millions to come. But very few of them have drama, very few of them have that impact. What we show you is not just how to write articles, but to write articles with drama and impact. So that the first time someone reads it, they go, oh, I want to read another one. That's it. So that's so so to just I don't know if I need to do a summary here.
Shireen Smith: That's your differentiating message about different courses.
Sean DSouza: Yeah.
Shireen Smith: But it's, you guarantee the skill or?
Sean DSouza: That's so that what I'm trying to show you here is that, generically, what where people start is at if you take our example, it's psycho tactics. They talk about soccer diagrams. And that's pointless, because that includes everything. But sometimes they'll say, oh, what's the difference between your course? And yes, you can have a differentiation for that course. But ideally, you have to get down to what course? Are we talking about? Is it storytelling is a cartooning? Is it? What is it that we're talking about? That's really where you have to go. When you stand up at a networking meeting, and you start to talk about something, do not talk about your company, talk about a course and people go, but I have so many things, but people don't buy so many things, they buy one thing, they buy one product. And time and time again, people make the same mistake. So they if they wonder why they're not getting that communication through, that's precisely the reason because people don't buy a company or a category.
Shireen Smith: So really, it's about also, it's about niching, and being known for something. So your course is known for, say, delivering skill, rather than a money back guarantee, or the other cause is known. What was it known for?
Sean DSouza: Well, so so what I'm saying is that, even though we've gone from psycho tactics to the category, which has courses to finally, which course, which is article writing, what I'm suggesting is that you start with article writing, as in, you start with the product that you have, so if you were to take, you know, you'd say apple, and then Apple sells computers and tablets and phones, and you'd say, Oh, I have to get a uniqueness for the category, which is either tablets or phones or whatever, no, no, no, you have to get that one product, whatever the one product that you're selling, that's where you need to start. Because there's this tendency to go, let me get the uniqueness for the category, let me get the uniqueness for the company. Because I don't know any better. I mean, nobody told me anything, you know, so I'm automatically doing uniqueness with the company uniqueness for category, but no uniqueness for the product, what is the product you want to sell? Every one of those books behind you is a product. All the books together is a category, the company that makes those books or prints those works or publishes books, if it were one company is the company, but you only ever buy one book at a time. You never buy the company and you never buy the category. And so that's that's the most crucial lesson of all that where do I start? I start with the product, one book, what is that book that I'm selling? Sure.
Shireen Smith: But at some point, the company has to be known for something so we know Apple, for example, for its good design, whatever has stuck in the mind, in our perception of what an Apple product will be is you know that will happen with any business that you're going to have some sort of perception like Volvo, that it's safe. I mean they've got lots of different products which may be do different things. But the company or the business is known for some unique association that they've managed to plant in consumers minds.
Sean DSouza: If that is true for a big company, but it's not true. So for instance, look at the microphone in front of you have a look. Yeah, I don't think you're probably I'm not sure if you know the name of the microphone, let alone the company.
Shireen Smith: I can't remember offhand. No.
Sean DSouza: That's precisely my point. So my point is that, you know, there's a plant behind you. Why do you buy that? What was the name of the company? We don't buy companies, I mean, Apple and Volvo and stuff, they go into all these books, and then we are running as small businesses like that microphone company might have maybe 100 employees, the plan company might have 50 employees. The average small business has one or two employees, there is no way that we can plaster every single billboard in and, you know, get that message across as being safe or, or sexy, or whatever it is, there is no way. There's no one
Shireen Smith: That's really interesting, because it is very different for small businesses, you know, they don't have the resources and big businesses to advertise and to do research and all the things that you're told to do. Ya very difficult to translate that into a small business context.
Sean DSouza: You're told because there is no way that an author or a very, very bleak Chancellor, author will write about, you know, X Y, Zed company, and people will go Oh, yeah, I know that company. It's much easier to write about Apple and Volvo and McDonald's and whatever that we already know. Because now we can relate to it. But we can only relate to it from a brand level, an intellectual level. In reality, we have nothing in common with Apple. I mean, there is absolutely nothing that we have that Apple, I mean, they can say, you know, Apple has this method and this credo. Yeah, but they also have $1 trillion in the bank account, and they have these offices, and they have these computers they have there is nothing in common. And, and yet, the whole point is, Apple has to do exactly the same thing as you, when they bring out another phone, they now have to convince you that you've bought 17 phones from them, and now you have to buy the 18 phone. So they still have to do the same thing as you they just have more money, more resources, but they can't escape going, Oh, we're Apple, you know, we're really good. You know, by the 18. Phone, no, you're not gonna buy the 18 phone. It's just that simple. So uniqueness really comes into play, and then they have to work really hard to get that uniqueness across. And of course, some companies like Photoshop and stuff found that they couldn't justify uniqueness every year. So they just put you on a forever plan, which is you just buy a subscription, that we don't have to tell you every time what this uniqueness is it just updates and just updates and just updates. So there are ways around it. But you and I probably we're not going to get away with that.
Shireen Smith: So how would you position a product? If, say, you've got a service or a product that you sell? How do you decide what, what single idea to communicate about it so that it can stick in the mind?
Sean DSouza: That's a great question. Because everybody asks, you know, they like oh, like, we do so many things. Well, what do we talk about? So I've got a list. For instance, we have a membership site with 5000 BCE. And I just asked them to write a little thing, why I'm trying to write articles. So the first line is I'm trying to write articles. And the second is the specific problem that I'm having. So here, I'll just read it for you. So it's like I'm trying to write articles. However, how do I know that people want to read them? I'm trying to write articles. But I don't trust myself in keeping to keep on writing articles for my audience. I'm trying to write articles, but I don't feel that people will read. I'm trying to write articles, but I'm trying to do it in 20 minutes. I'm trying to write articles. But what if people laugh at me? I'm trying. It goes on and on and on. I mean, and you say which one will I pick? And the answer is anyone. And you say that? Anyone? Any one of them? Because what matters not? The it doesn't matter which one you pick. It matters how you describe it.
So when I change when I move the conversation across and I go, when I'm trying to write articles, and I just read it. Somebody says no, but no matter what I do, it's the same 30 to 40 people reading it well, what we're going to do with uniqueness is you, you're always trying to get what the competition does, what I do, and why it's important, you have to answer these three questions. And this is why you have to have that sort of paragraph in your brain, but also on paper, which is, what does the competition do? Well, the competition for the article writing course, you will find that you can always write an article. And you can write an article, I mean, the competition teaches you how to write articles that you can put on the internet. Right. But the what we do is we show you how to write drama, so that when the reader comes to your article the first time, they are so entranced that they want to read more. And how do we do it? What we do is we how do we do it? We do it through a system that last 60 days or something. So is that so you then you're going, what do they do? What do we do? And then why is it important? And that's what sticks in the head? It's not what we would think that there needs to be something like, oh, the Taj Mahal, it needs to be something unique. It needs to be you know, but no, the client, the client is using the uniqueness as an excuse to go to that place. It's not like they haven't done an article writing course before, or they won't do an article writing course in the future. But they're looking at how can I justify this to somebody else? How can I justify this to myself. And what you're doing is giving them that paragraph, that gives them the justification to buy it, to use it to do whatever it is, because all leadership courses are the same, except for the fact that maybe there's some slight difference here or there. In reality, all cafes are the same. But there is a very small thing that people have said, Okay, what we're going to do is when you enter this cafe, you'll feel like you're in Copacabana. Is that? Was that? Unique? Yeah, it's unique, but how did they come? Just to the top of the heads? So the way I get people to do it, is to make a list of all their benefits and features, all of them, and then pick one of them. And then describe it. Why should I do it because of that? And people go, That sounds really odd. But it works. I mean, why? Why do you care that it sounds odd. If you show it to you go to a client, and you say, and they go, you know, what are you selling, and you go this and they go, Oh, and you say this is the reason why you should buy it's different. Go that sounds really interesting, or whatever, and they're ready to engage with you further. That's how you know it works, not otherwise.
Shireen Smith: Well, I have a course on branding, which the difference is that you use intellectual property strategically, for example, so I can communicate that. But if, if this is the only course I ever want to sell. Is that all there is to it? I mean, aren't people going to be wondering, why should I buy this course?
Sean DSouza: So the point is that we have to still go through those steps, which is what is the competition do? What do we do with that?
Shireen Smith: They don't do that.
Sean DSouza: Exactly. Yeah, so they are still doing something? They're still teaching you branding that does X Y Zed? Yeah, right? You're teaching our course teaches branding that does X, ABC
Shireen Smith: It does X Y Zed, but also uses IP. It does. It shows you how to create a brand, but it brings IP into it, which is often missing in other courses.
Sean DSouza: Exactly, yeah, so then you just reverse what you're saying. You go other people show you so you're almost agreeing with them. You go every course teaches you how to do branding, but doesn't consider IP. What we do is we have a course that does this and brings in IP, and here's why IP is important. And now the first thing goes, IP. I want IP. I don't know what IP is, but I want to put they do but you know so so what you've done is you've created something where before that the client doesn't know why they should not buy from the other person because the other person is more famous. They do this They do their whatever the reason, there is cheaper, there is more expensive people buy courses because they're more expensive, not because they're cheaper. But when you specifically tell them, I don't know the product I'm buying, I don't know, even once you buy something, you have no idea what you bought, in almost every case, even if it's like a coffee grinder, you buy the coffee grinder, you look at all the specs, it's just too much information. So it's your job to just consolidate that into one paragraph of or rather three lines and get that message across. And then they tell Oh, they'll tell their friends or their colleagues or whoever, whatever the product is, you know, if it's a coffee grinder, they'll go, oh, you should buy this coffee grinder because of this reason. And that's how you know you've done their job, your job.
Shireen Smith: So how do you differentiate? How do you actually guarantee something like skill?
Sean DSouza: Yeah, how do I guarantee something like skill, because we have benchmarks. So we say, at the end of this course, you will be able to write a first line in X amount of time, you will be able to so you have three, you could have one benchmark, but let's say we have three benchmarks. So the main problems that people have with, for instance, the course I'm doing right now, sorry, telling this they they had, let's let's stay with one, let's say everybody thinks that their story is bloated. So I can make that into a uniqueness. I could say. Most of the time, we can tell stories, but we tell stories as if we've just come back from the bar, or we tell stories or we tell them in the bar, they ramble on endlessly sound perfectly good in the bar. But so the competition here is the boss story, not even a person. How do you tell a story that's not bloated? That's, that's precise. And how we do it. I mean, we'll show you how to write on bloated stories. Now, when you set benchmarks, some of the benchmarks might have numbers. For instance, when we have the headline writing course we say, you can write I think it's about eight headlines, eight different types of headlines that are all curious and do so in 10 minutes. So now, if everybody in the course and sometimes, you know, we take about 16 to 20 people, everybody has to be able to do eight headlines in 10 minutes. That's the benchmark. So that's the result. So one of the things that you're always trying for is to people don't want information anymore. I mean, they ask for information, but they want what they want is a result. And if you define the result in advance, and you go at the end of the course, you will be able to do X, Y, Zed. It's like a train journey. It's, I am going from here to there, what time does the train reach and when I will reaches there. So there's a benchmark, because if the train is supposed to, it's like a Japanese train, it's 1110. And the train arrives at 1110. Not like trains that arrive whenever they feel like it. So there's a precise benchmark, if you define a benchmark, and that's really what how we define results, we tell them, when you get to the other side, this is what you will be able to do either one thing or one, two and three things. And then everybody else will be able to do the same time. They can measure it. That's it.
Shireen Smith: Good. So if a small business is aspiring to be the next big household name brand, would you still suggest that they don't need to worry about positioning and differentiation of the company at the company level.
Sean DSouza: I would strongly discourage them to become a next brand you can be perfectly happy with that becoming the next big brand, I would really discourage them. You just get famous and richer than you need to be. You can just get rich enough and be very comfortable. Some people have bigger ambitions than that. So but even today, so the days of company positioning are gone. And they will never return. You will not you can tell you can talk about Volvo and you can talk about Apple and you can this is the reason why we never get any new uniqueness stories or slogans. We don't know what tick tok is about, like, what's the uniqueness of tick tok? I have no idea. But they do have uniqueness. It's like in 30 seconds you have to what is Facebook about? So after a while what's happened is all of these have been enshrined in books and you know by Trout and Rays and stuff. And that's it, that age has effectively gone because when branding started, as you probably know, people didn't know about stuff. So branding started for that reason, which is to, for you to even know the company, hence the company had to have an image. But now people aren't buying the company. I mean, they buy it at a subconscious level. But they're buying the product. And with Amazon, that's become even more crazy, because you go on Amazon and you buy a product, you don't go, you look at the testimonials, you go on Airbnb, you don't know who the company is, you just look at the testimonials, you look at the location, you look at all of this, those red bags, what problems and solving, what are the testimonials, what risk is involved, and that's how you bite.
Shireen Smith: But something has to trigger that people have to be able to recognize you. So if they've come before, and they then come across you again, they've got to know that it's you. So you need an image in terms of you need a name, like you've got psycho tactics, and then there's your personal brand. So people know you. Those are the ways they’re going to recognise you.
Sean DSouza: They will I mean, you have to do all that stuff. But becoming a big company means that eventually you'll have to hire ChIAT day as an advertising company, and they'll put your brand on whatever. TV a big a big company is a completely different ballgame. played pretty much like a small company, but with a lot more money and resources. Even so, it is very hard today to have a midsize company and we're talking about 10s of millions of dollars. And for anybody to know, you know, where we buy our bread from or what we buy a piece from. Even if we understand the brand, we understand the colors. And we understand all that we still don't know, what is unique about the company. We only know what is unique about the product? Yeah. So it's, I mean, it's fine if you can get it across, but it's just a huge waste of time. Because people are still buying the product.
Shireen Smith: Right? Well, why do you think failure rate is so high among businesses? As a last question before we say good bye.
Sean DSouza: Why do you think the failure rate is the same in dating, it's not any different. People don't follow up. They just they ghost their customers. They don't show up. They don't show up often enough. I've got a cafe here who started doing a newsletter. She did it consistently for well over a year started getting very good and very consistent with newsletters. Now, if it's dropped off, and the moment you drop off from people's radar, well, somebody else has taken that place. There are lots of reasons why a company can fail. But to me, even if you're pretty hopeless if you've keep showing up at someone's door and say, how do you have any work? Oh, do you have any work? Or do you have any work? Eventually, they go, oh, that person will just give them some work. Even if you're hopeless. And if you're good at it, then you still have to show up. I mean, you know, Apple, YouTube, all of these companies are still sending you email with all of their money. And with all the resources, they're still following up. And so.
Shireen Smith: Yeah, they have sales teams, which is probably the one thing that people need to really focus on is the sales process. Getting
Sean DSouza: I mean, whatever it is what it's if you don't follow up in a in a date, you're dead. If you don't follow up in your marriage on a regular basis, that falls apart. Follow up being there showing up people want you to be there like the six o'clock news. They may not watch it. They may go away but when they turn it on, you have to be there. That's it.
Shireen Smith: Great. Good. Well, thank you very much indeed Sean.
Sean DSouza: You're welcome.
Shireen Smith: Thank you, bye. If you're interested in creating better brands, be sure to subscribe to the Ranchu newsletter, and get weekly updates including notifications when new episodes drop.