A selection from the new book: Different Rules – the B2B Marketer’s Guidebook to Product Differentiation

B2B “Differentiation” idea starters – Part 11

By Chris Wirthwein

Highlight a negative; include both sides of an argument.

A television campaign for a mouthwash once touted its bad taste. It cited this negative as proof for how powerfully it cleaned your mouth. “Tastes so bad it’s got to be good,” went the tagline. Ad researchers call citing both positive and negative attributes a “two-sided” argument. Whereas, a one-sided argument only mentions positive attributes. One research study, using a consumer product, compared the effects of one-sided versus two-sided advertising. Results showed:

  • 2-sided (vs. 1-sided) advertisements increased perceived credibility of the advertiser.
  • Mentioning negative product attributes created more favorable attitudes toward the positive attributes mentioned in the ad.

For B2B products, credibility of the seller almost always enters into a purchase decision. So, when you want a credibility boost for your company or product, consider incorporating two-sided arguments. Admitting negatives produces the additional benefit of increasing the perceived truth of positive claims you make.

Let’s say your major point of differentiation seems far-fetched or implausible to your audience. This would be the perfect time to employ a two-sided argument in your marketing. Most B2B marketers shy away from highlighting a negative. Chances are, a two-sided argument will make you look much different than your competitors.

Read Different Rules - all 154-pages - free online e-book or purchase a hardcopy.

Chris Wirthwein is Senior Director for 5MetaCom, a marketing agency that develops strategies and campaigns to differentiate B2B technical and scientific products. He has authored three marketing books, including his latest, Different Rules: The B2B Marketer’s Guidebook to Product Differentiation. You can reach Chris on LinkedIn or at cwirthwein@5metacom.com.

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