Rosser Reeves - Marketing Master
NEW YORK -- How can one simple phrase kick your
competitor's ass before they knew what hit them?
Rosser Reeves developed the marketing
strategy of Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Rosser Reeves can answer that question. In fact, he is credited as one
of the great influences in marketing.
Reeves was born in Danville, Virginia in 1910, the son of a Methodist
His first job after leaving the University of Virginia was as a
reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Reeves quickly realized the pay
for newspaper reporting was lower than he wanted, so he turned to
In 1934, he moved to New York and worked as a copywriter for several
companies before landing a job at the Ted Bates and Co. Advertising Agency
In the 1950's, Rosser Reeves becomes a thumping success, creating
history and demolishing icons of creativity on the way. He was the
vice-president and copy chief of Ted Bates and Co. for six years, and then
became the chairman of the board in 1955.
He wrote his first book in 1961, Reality of Advertising. This
book laid out the selling technique that he is famous for: the Unique
Selling Proposition (USP).
He defines a USP has having three parts:
Each ad must make a proposition -- "Buy this product and you get these
The proposition must be unique -- something that your competitors do
not, cannot or will not offer.
The proposition must sell -- it must be something prospects really
want; it pulls them over to your product.
In essence, a USP briefly and clearly explains a single quality about
your product that lets it stand out against the competition.
The most memorable USP Reeves developed was the one for M&Mís. At the
time, M&Mís was one of the first sugar-coated chocolate candies on the
market. So Reeves wrote, "It melts in your mouth, not in your hands."
Utilizing USP's, the Bates agency leaped to be the fifth largest
advertising agency in the world, handling such accounts as Warner-Lambert
Pharmaceutical, Brown and Williamson Tobacco Products, Mobil Oil, and the
Chase Manhattan Bank.
In 1965 he was inducted into the Copywriter's hall of fame. However a
year later he astonished everyone by resigning after explaining that he
had always wanted to retire at the age of fifty five, and find serenity.
Reeves died in 1984 but his concept of USP revolutionized marketing
Dominoís Pizza grew because of a USP ("Hot, fresh pizza delivered in 30
minutes or less, guaranteed").
FedEx became popular because of a USP ("When it absolutely, positively
has to be there overnight").
So have other companies with a USP.
Since I study all the great marketing and advertising gurus
from the past for a
living, you can guess I know what works and what doesn't . But there is only
one that has made me serious money.
Click here to see who.