You may have seen the signs in hotels asking you to help preserve energy, water, and detergent by being a good environmental citizen and reusing your towels. Typically these campaigns focus on the saved water or other rather abstract benefits. On a recent trip to Vienna, I saw the clever note shown on the right that powerfully ties a concrete environmental “payoff” to your little gesture: “Here, your towels plant trees.”
The fact that this statement may not be literally true does not diminish its effectiveness. Let’s analyze how the “magical powers” of this towel rack measure up against the typical benefits statements of similar campaigns.
Memorable, Accessible, Credible
As mentioned in my post on the trifecta of effective value propositions, the most successful benefit statements are memorable, accessible, and credible. This little hanging sign unifies all three criteria rather well. It is short and memorable, the concrete act of planting a tree by “planting your towel” on the hook is readily accessible and it is at least plausible (although the claim is a bit of a stretch).
Focus on concrete outcomes, not features
The trees are the important, concrete result of your action. Savings of water or power are much more difficult to visualize, as is the even more abstract “being green” or “protecting the environment.” Saved energy is difficult to imagine, planting a tree is not.
As a former translator, I liked that the German sign was equally effective in both the German original and the English translation. Given the environment of an international hotel in a major European metropolis, picking a readily culturally and linguistically portable slogan is a definite plus. (More thoughts on the impact of “location-aware” value propositions here.)
Lessons for personal branding and crafting effective value propositions
To get people on board with your ideas and to trigger action, keep your eyes on the payoff. This applies equally to obvious “value proposition” challenges such as promoting commercial products or services as it does to less typical uses of benefits statements. Let’s say you want to recruit some co-workers to participate in an important initiative at your company. How can you phrase the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) in a tangible, memorable, accessible and credible way? Will this project be “good for the company,” (abstract); “a career booster,” (more tangible, but still quite nebulous); or “a great way to spend at least 1 hour personally impressing the executive committee” (very concrete)?
To keep it effective, remember to KIT (Keep It Tangible)!
For help with crafting winning value propositions or to schedule your personal branding discovery session, please check the Personal Branding Services page.