Understand Your Edge

I’ve been reading a lot about copywriting, persuasion, and sales strategies recently (I need to be writing about that more). It is a fascinating topic. And when I say copy, this incorporates (verbal) sales messaging. It makes me wish I had taken more philosophy and psychology classes in school.

In business and in any realm where there is competition you need to beat, it’s crucial to understand your edge. Why should the buyer select your product or your service? We live in the information age and it is almost certain that the buyer can/will research the competition (although, in simplistic transactional sales, this can be countered by techniques like limited time offers).

The copy needs to reflect this edge. Does your edge solve a pain point and/or deliver a pleasure? Your copy needs to amplify the pain and pleasure points and it needs to specifically do so around your edge.

One edge that a small company can have over a big corporation is speed. I really like John Boyd’s OODA loop. John Boyd was a F-86 Pilot and Commander in the US Airforce.

Boyd believed that when at a disadvantage, a competent pilot could still overcome that disadvantage by “Attacking the Mind” of his opponent. The OODA loop is a process that defines how we react to stimulus.

“In order to win, we should operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries—or, better yet, get inside [the] adversary’s Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action time cycle or loop … Such activity will make us appear ambiguous (unpredictable) thereby generate confusion and disorder among our adversaries—since our adversaries will be unable to generate mental images or pictures that agree with the menacing, as well as faster transient rhythm or patterns, they are competing against.”

Colonel Boyd trained his pilots based upon his observations of Human reaction time and as a result his pilots had a 10 to 1 kill ratio over the superior Mig-15’s.

“The key is to obscure your intentions and make them unpredictable to your opponent while you simultaneously clarify his intentions. That is, operate at a faster tempo to generate rapidly changing conditions that inhibit your opponent from adapting or reacting to those changes and that suppress or destroy his awareness. Thus, a hodgepodge of confusion and disorder occur to cause him to over- or under-react to conditions or activities that appear to be uncertain, ambiguous, or incomprehensible.”

The OODA loop has become an important concept in many areas outside of air-to-air combat (dog fighting).