Swiss Army Knife Marketing

 Image:  Oleg Frolov

In the beginning of selling anything new there are a lot of assumptions. While you may know a lot about who you think your target market like their age, what type of job they have, etc. Many assumptions will be around what exactly it is they want. You have to figure out what’s the one thing you need to do to get them to say yes to trying out your new product. Understanding that they’ll probably go to great lengths to actively avoid whatever it is you’re doing to get them to buy.

Which is why you have to have a sharp and succinct message. Your messaging has to be like a swiss army knife. Not an actual one. But when you think of a swiss army knife, there’s one thing that comes to mind -- the knife. People don’t buy the knife for the toothpick or corkscrew. There are better tools that are made for those functions.  Sure, there are Swiss Army Knives with many tools, but it’s the knife that’s the selling point. The company, Victorinox, has done such a good job that that’s the only value proposition they need to sell with. The rest is extra.

When you’re doing something new and trying to pursued people to use your product you can’t dilute your message by trying to tell people of all your great features you built or your product provides. No one will know what to do with them. It ends up sounding like a lot of work having to adopt a new system that’s unfamiliar. However, like the swiss army knife, if you have one thing that solves a true personal problem for someone, they know it’s in their best interest to say yes. After that you can start to explain all of the other things you can do for them, but you have to get them through that initial threshold first. At that point they’re in your ecosystem and are much more likely to stay.

To do this you need to know what you’re selling and who you’re selling to.



This only works if you’re selling benefits. Benefits are what provide a solution, it’s what your product allows to happen. Not what it does. That’s a feature. A feature is a functional component that facilitates an outcome. Focus on the outcome. People are not buying the swiss army knife because it’s a knife. No, they’re buying it because it’s portable, it’s reliable, it says something about the person who’s carrying it. They know that whenever there’s a situation where a knife would be helpful to have, the utility of a Swiss Army Knife will be a welcomed tool. It’s not what it does, it’s what it allows someone to do.



  • Multiple User Accounts

  • Email Notifications


  • The ability to collaborate with your team more efficiently

  • Everyone is instantly kept up to date


Benefits answer what’s in it for them and gives your audience a reason to try your product.



At this stage and with this approach you should only be going after one audience. Likely it will be the one you’re most familiar with. But strategically, you need this audience to be the one that has the most crossover appeal to other demographics. An audience with influence over other people's behavior. If you know your space you’ll know who these people are: They’re visible in the community, their opinion is respected and other people look to them for inspiration for what they should be doing. A way to do this is to create a user persona that you can direct your marketing to. No persona will be exactly right as they are predominantly an assumption, but what it provides is a bearing that you can adjust from later on if needed. Without it you risk trying multiple tactics and not knowing what’s working.



Now that we know what we’re going to be selling, the benefit, and who we’re going after, the target audience, there’s a framework you can follow that will make sure you are clearly communicating your complex idea in a simple way. Best selling author, Ryan Holiday, in his book Perennial Seller describes a framework that he puts every idea through called: One Sentence, One Paragraph, One Page. Meaning that you should be able to clearly express your idea in each of those formats. If not, go back and do some more thinking to determine if what you’re doing is valuable.

Start with the sentence framework:


This is a [what are you making] for [your Target Market] which does [Your Benefit] for them.


From there, expand to one paragraph, and one page. With the extra room you can expand more on what you’ll be delivering, however make sure that the message remains clear.

What this does for you is makes it explicitly clear what you need your marketing to convey. And actually, the sentence can act as your splash page description and the longer form write ups act as your product description or press release materials.



The purpose of this is to make it incredibly easy for those who don’t know your product to say yes to trying it out. That’s all you need to do at this point. Not sell them on every possible thing that you could potentially help them with, rather effectively communicate the one thing that will positively impact their life. If you can do this people will recommend your product to others and by simplifying your message your helping them sell your product for you.