““No theory is good except on condition that one use it to go beyond.”” – Andre Gide

Yesterday, we talked about Beach Blanker Babylon – what it teaches us about capitalizing on trends. Today, I want to talk about another lesson we can take from it – how to turn your business into a franchise.

When I say “franchise,” I’m not referring to the common commercial definition – the right to use a unique business approach in a given region – but to the unique business approach itself.

Let’s consider Beach Blanket Babylon. It is, essentially, a musical review. That puts it into a limited class but hardly makes it unique. It is distinguished by the clever combination of social satire, colorful scenery, bawdy humor, and outrageous costuming. But none of those things makes it unique. What separates Steve Silver’s production from all others of its kind – that which can’t be duplicated without diminishing the duplicator – is its unique use of a single, recurring gag: the oversized hat. Put it all together, and you have something that occupies a special place in theater – something that is recognizably special.

Every product, in theory, is unique. But the secret to having the kind of success that Beach Blanket Babylon enjoys is to give your product/service a uniqueness that the market appreciates.

When the Rolex watch company designed that little bubble on the date indicator – and crafted the second hand to advance one second at a time – it created a luxury-watch franchise. When Burger King created the Whopper, it secured a permanent foothold in the fast-food market. Volvo has the franchise for safe family cars. Ferrari for macho machines. And Swiss Army has long held the franchise for quality pocket knives.

In the financial-newsletter business, we call a product a franchise when it achieves an identity in the marketplace that customers (1) recognize, (2) see as unique, and (3) value as being unique.

One example: International Living – the only publication that helps people who like to travel to and learn about beautiful, friendly destinations where they can retire inexpensively.

Another: The Oxford Club – more than a financial newsletter. A club of like-minded investors who help one another achieve above-average investment results.

Still Another: Health Sciences Institute. Again, more than a health newsletter. HSI brings its readers unknown natural remedies from behind the FDA’s iron curtain of regulations.

If you can turn your product/service into a franchise, it will be easier to sell it, upsell, and resell. You will be able to acquire new customers more cheaply, and it will be easier to generate leads. Finally, you will enjoy higher profits for as long as you maintain the franchise.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a free-lance copywriter or a seller of long-distance phone service, you can develop a franchise. The secret is to give your product/service some benefit that is (a) unique, (b) recognized as unique, and (c) appreciated.

How do you turn your product/service into a franchise?

1. Start by making a list of the many features of your product/service. Make it as complete as possible. How it’s made. What it looks like. How it works. What it costs.

2. Next, turn those features into selling benefits. (If you’re a student of the American Writer’s and Artist’s Institute direct-marketing program, you know exactly how to do this. If you would like more information about this highly effective program, contact AWAI at www.awaionline.com.)

What good does each feature do your customer? How many ways can he benefit from it?

3. Choose one feature/benefit that you do/make better than your competitors. Make sure it is substantial.

4. Figure out how you can provide that benefit in a different or better way. This becomes what we call your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

5. Figure out how to make your customers equate that unique benefit with you. You must convince the market that when it comes to the benefit/service you offer, no one can offer it but you.

This is not an easy task. But it’s worth it. Turn your product/service into its own version of Beach Blanket Babylon, and you’ll reap the rewards for a long, long time.