I could hardly believe my eyes. I was strolling through the living room and caught my wife watching an episode of Survivor. And there it was – the marketing strategy of exclusivity on display for the world to see.
On the show, contestants are allowed to bring a “luxury” item alongside the clothes on their backs. But one contestant had a very special piece of clothing adorning her torso.
A garment that immediately took me back to my days in high school. You know, when you tried to look and act like the coolest kid in town. But it wasn’t enough just having the attitude, you needed the swag to go along with it.
And in my case, that luxury item was a Members Only jacket…
Booyah baby! It’s happening right here…
But, I mean, what’s the big deal? It was just a jacket, right?
It’s was a Members Only jacket. That meant you had to be part of the club to have one. Not just some geek off the street looking for a nice coat. After all, membership was branded right into the name.
No, these jackets were for the select few that were deemed worthy enough to wear them. Those that had the cojones to be a part of something special.
The “in” crowd.
And the company made a boatload selling them to schmucks like us all around the world. So what was it about the name that made so many of us fiend for these iconic jackets?
Yep, you guessed it – EXCLUSIVITY.
THE LOGIC OF EXCLUSIVITY IN MARKETING STRATEGY
Before we cover the details of why exclusivity works in marketing, it helps to understand the fundamentals of human behavior. Namely, how and why people make the decisions that they do.
A great summary of this concept can be found in the multilevel pyramid known as Maslow’s Hierarchy. Abraham Maslow was a psychologist in the 1940’s who studied the logic of decision making. In his research, he uncovered that humans have five primary motives which govern how their decisions are made.
Maslow stated that people are driven to take action based on their specific circumstances and that some needs take precedence over others.
For example, the most basic human need is physical survival – breathing, eating, sleeping, using the bathroom, etc. Thus achieving this goal is the primary catalyst for our daily behavior.
However, once our basic needs are met, our focus shifts to the next level on the pyramid. These middle-tier categories include love and belonging and our sense of self-esteem. This process continues all the way to the top level of the pyramid – self-actualization.
SO WHY CHOOSE EXCLUSIVITY FOR YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY?
For most people, the bottom steps of the pyramid (Physiological and Safety) are not that difficult to achieve. If you have food to eat, a roof over your head and money to pay your bills chances are you’re good.
However, beyond this point is where the average adult begins to yearn for their first tier of “indulgences”. Like a feeling of community, a sense of belonging, and the prestige of being part of something special.
Thus levels three and four are two of easiest places to grab your audience’s attention. I mean, let’s face it – if someone is worried about food, shelter or having a job, chances are they’re not going be interested in your eBook or membership site.
But once your prospects push beyond these stages (and most do) they get hungry to “level up” their lives and increase their happiness. At this point, exclusivity becomes a very appealing quality.
Table for two?
Think back – even as kids we learned to stand out (or at least fit in). You see it happen on school playgrounds every day – wanting to hang out with the cool kids or be the first one picked for the team.
This process continues on through high school, college and beyond. We constantly seek the approval of others and look for new ways to elevate our social status and improve our self-esteem.
After all, nothing hurts worse than being left out of the crowd or feeling just average.
That’s why utilizing the exclusivity marketing strategy is so powerful. It lets you tap into our primal urges of belonging and wanting to feel important.
HOW TO INCORPORATE EXCLUSIVITY IN YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY
Contrary to what many believe, creating a sense of exclusivity isn’t really that difficult. It usually just boils down to choosing the right words for your branding and marketing. Words that evoke emotion, desire, and selectivity.
- Members only
- Login required
- Spots are limited
- By invitation only
- Beta testers
- Exclusive offers
- Become an insider
- A select few
- Be the first to hear about
- Available to subscribers only
Simply put – phrasing that implies your offering is anything but ordinary. The key is to emphasize higher quality, more value, or a better overall experience. Elements that are synonymous with exclusivity.
Let’s check out a few brands that have nailed it.
A small Kentucky bourbon distillery that emphasizes quality over quantity. A far cry from the mass-produced spirits most people are accustomed to.
Woodford Reserve isn’t manufactured, it’s crafted in small batches. This artisanal process allows us to craft using all five sources of bourbon flavor giving it its distinct taste and crisp, clean finish.
I’m not really a bourbon man myself, but if I were, I’d bypass the rotgut and head straight for this stuff.
What better way to elevate your brand than by adding high-end options to your base product.
Built to bring the big surround sound theater and music experience into the comfort of your living room, the Polk Signature Series continues in the Polk tradition of American HiFi. Featuring Hi-Res certification, a new Dynamic Balance® designed acoustic array, precision cross-overs, an anti-diffraction magnetic grille, modern cabinet styling and exclusive Power Port® bass enhancing technology, you get elevated sound for movies, TV and music in a totally re-imagined design.
Polk Audio is already known for having some of the best speaker systems around. By producing a “signature series” they’re saying that the best just got even better. For audio enthusiasts with cash to spend, this kind of exclusivity is sure to make their mouths water.
Last but not least, one of my personal favorites. Ads like these were a major reason that I joined the Marines after high school. In all honesty, the uniforms were pretty cool too. But the allure of becoming part of such an elite group has arguably gotten more people to enlist than any other factor.
EXCLUSIVITY MARKETING WORKS
So what do all these marketing strategies have in common? The promise to the buyer of giving them an experience like no other. To offer a product or service so high-quality that all others pale in comparison. A means that allows customers to elevate their stature and gain respect and self-esteem in the process.
In other words, EXCLUSIVITY.
The funny part though is that most people wouldn’t know the difference without the branding. Think about it. Woodford Bourbon wouldn’t have nearly as much appeal (even if it tasted just the same). Or new Polk Audio speakers with upgraded components and designs. Not the same ring as a “signature” series.
And the Marines…I’m guessing enlistment numbers would tank if they mentioned 20-mile hikes and cold chow hall food.
But the uniforms are still pretty sweet 🙂
So for your business, think of ways you can incorporate this kind of exclusivity in your marketing. How can you position yourself as an authority with better products, more results, or exceptional service?
Find words or phrases that emphasize these qualities and include them in your advertising.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ANY OFFERINGS THAT ARE EXCLUSIVE?
Not a problem – just create some. Seriously. You may not have thought about it, but you already have an exclusive product.
Even in the same type of business as your competitors, you’re naturally going to do things a little differently than everyone else. That means your products or services are unique. AKA, exclusive.
Create New Offers
Own a dentistry business? Why not market yourself as a “premier” provider? Are you a consultant? Limit the number of clients you take on and offer “exclusive” coaching programs.
There’s really no limit here once you get creative. If you’re confident in your abilities and stand behind your products, why wouldn’t you promote exclusivity?
Improve Existing Offers
As a second option, think about adding extras to your baseline package. If you sell physical products, throw in a bonus incentive to sweeten the pot.
Sounds like a signature offer to me.
Or charge a monthly fee to be part of your program. Now you can promote “insider” deals and advertise to “members only”.
Keep in mind that if you offer exclusivity you need to be able to back it up. If you’re claiming to be the best – but your results don’t match expectations – your business is going to crash and burn.
However, marketing exclusivity is a solid way to get customer traffic flowing in the first place (and to continue building momentum afterward).
Remember, one of the strongest desires of human beings (besides our basic needs) is to have a sense of belonging. That means being part of a group, feeling special, and believing we’re just a little better off than those around us.
Coincidentally, this is what the marketing strategy of exclusivity is all about.
And one of the easiest ways to feed this desire is by using emotionally-charged language in your marketing materials. Words like reserve, select, vintage, member, and insider (to name a few). By including these kinds of phrases in your copy, every offer you promote gains credibility and becomes more appealing to buyers.
When implemented correctly, exclusivity is a powerful marketing strategy that can transform milquetoast into magnificence. Thereby elevating your brand and generating more revenue in the process…
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna break out my Members Only jacket and pop Back to The Future in the DVR.