Chapter Two The Psychology of Engagement

James Comer said that no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.

For decades, just three differentiators—or as we call them, core value propositions (CVPs)—distinguished brands from one another and drove all marketing campaigns: price, performance, and service.

From HP and Ford to Procter & Gamble and Cisco, marketing decisions and campaigns were made and deployed based on creating alignment, perception, and affinity around those three CVPs. Most marketing campaigns traditionally lead with a single CVP, using price (Walmart) or performance (Intel) or service (Zappos) as the primary differentiators—the main “reason” for customers to buy. But some companies (JetBlue) promoted all three CVPs in an effort to communicate a stronger position that provided customers with low pricing, high performance, and premium service. Others (Toyota, Verizon, Lowe’s) rotated the lead CVP across different marketing programs or times of the year.

But over the years, heightened competition and fragmentation eventually commoditized the three CVP drivers. In nearly every category, virtually every brand began to promote lower prices, high performance, and excellent service. Put another way, the marketing campaigns and the brand promises became nearly identical. The logos and taglines may have been different, but the messaging was the same.

It all begged the question: If marketers were no longer differentiating their brands, why were ...

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