It’s the one day of the year when you watch 4 hours of TV… JUST for the ads.
With each new commercial, you try to figure out who’s advertising. A celebrity pops on the screen and starts talking about how much they love their Kia…
You scoff at the ridiculousness of this person with a $100+ million net worth pretending a Kia Soul is their car of choice, but that’s only because you’re a marketer.
It’s Super Bowl Sunday (a.k.a. the marketing Olympics).
You evaluate each ad, wondering which one will make you say, “THAT was my favorite Super Bowl ad.”
Suddenly…there it is.
Unlike the other ads—full of high-production, 5k quality video, and VFX backgrounds—this is a black screen.
The only thing on the screen is a QR code, changing colors as it slowly bounces from one side of your screen to another.
It’s a hard contrast compared to the third Peacock ad before it. Your curiosity peaks, so you grab your phone, open your camera, and scan the code. So do 20% of the other 117 million people watching.
In one minute, Coinbase gets 20 million website views.
What other Super Bowl commercial turned 20 million passive viewers into active participants during the 60 seconds their ad was live?
In today’s edition of Why We Buy, we’re taking a look at Distinctiveness – why we pay more attention to stuff that stands out.
Let’s get into it.
“Top Marketing Newsletters You Need to Subscribe To”
The Psychology of Distinctiveness 🧠
What was the difference between Coinbase’s Super Bowl ad and the other crypto ads like FTX and Crypto.com? (To prove my point, I dare you to try to remember the two A-list celebrities in each of those ads.)
It’s the Von Restorff’s Effect (a.k.a distinctiveness), discovered by researcher Hedwig von Restorff.
Von Restorff found that when participants were presented with a list of categorically similar items with one distinctive, isolated item on the list, people remembered the distinctive item much more.
Another study found that when shown a list of numbers, all written in black except for one number in blue—people remembered the number in blue 30x more often.
This doesn’t just work with lists of words and numbers.
Which of the tomatoes below caught your eye first? I’m guessing the red one.
Distinctiveness is memorable, relatable, and drives action.
Inside Your Buyer’s Mind🧐
Your buyers see hundreds to thousands of ads a day. And they’re spending hours scrolling through social feeds, job promotions, and Twitter threads—many promising to teach them how to grow a company to a $60 billion valuation in the next 72 hours.
All that mills around in their mind alongside the 6,000 thoughts they have on average per day. That’s a lot of daily stimulation.
Distinctiveness pauses the cycle by being so different—your buyers’ brains have to stop and think, “Wait, what am I looking at?”
That thought turns a quick procrastination scroll through social media into a memorable experience of your brand…
Your distinctiveness makes the buyer relate to your perspective, positioning your brand as different.
And it leads to the buyer thinking, “If I want to solve this problem, this is the company that aligns with me.”
How To Apply This 🤑
Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?
Use contrast to create distinctiveness in features, offers, and products
Create distinctiveness by comparing your features or offers to your competitors. Here’s how Cocoon (mattress company) creates a distinct difference between their offer and Casper’s.
Look for patterns in your industry’s marketing strategies
Then, do the opposite. For instance, if everyone’s writing a compilation-style newsletter, write in-depth how-to guides instead. When they zig, you zag.
Test stuff to find what works
The main reason companies don’t use distinctiveness is because their team is scared of failing and getting in trouble. Creating distinctiveness is done strategically, but just like that sales page you were *sure* would get the most conversions to date—give yourself (and your team) room for error, learning, and improving.
The Short of It 💥
If you want to be memorable, relatable, and drive action—you need to be distinct from your competitors. If you pull this off, you can sell the same products at a higher price point and still win the customer acquisition battle.
Until next time, happy selling!
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