My very first freelance copywriting client was David Bullock…

David has an interesting history.  He was an engineer, working on high-end robotics in manufacturing situations.

Then, he got involved with marketing, but from an engineering perspective.

He learned this little thing called Taguchi testing, which uses statistics to test thousands of possible options in a much smaller set of tests.

And as part of that study, he also learned a Russian system for engineering innovation called TRIZ.

TRIZ is a set of 40 principles you can use to innovate in an engineering scenario.  But it has been and can also be applied in business.

The idea of using the principles is that they spur ideas.  Not all will apply in a specific situation.  But the act of going through the principles can spark one really good idea, that can be just what you need.

As part of working with David, I learned Taguchi and TRIZ and some pretty advanced methods.  It was kind of like The Matrix.  He taught me to break down marketing into a million tiny pieces, to see how they go together — and how they could be transformed.

Once you see that, you never go back.

I don’t think I can capture all of it here, in a single article.  But I will share the 40 TRIZ principles, with a quick idea of how to apply them to improving a marketing or sales offer.

  1. Segmentation.

Break it into its component parts.

  1. Take out.

Remove something that may lessen its appeal.  Or separate the component that offers the most value.

  1. Local quality.

Change one small detail to change the way it all works.  Make individual details perform complete functions.

  1. Asymmetry.

Make the risk of the proposition asymmetrical and favoring the client.

  1. Merging.

Package offers.  Combine them.  Create a natural path of offers for the customer to follow.

  1. Universality.

Make the offer more flexible.  Take away the niche-specific component.

  1. Nested doll.

Place one offer inside another.

  1. Anti-weight.

Remove “heaviness” to the offer, or to the buying decision.  Make it more convenient.

  1. Prior counteraction.

Preemptively counteract any negative components or effects of the offer and product or service delivery.

  1. Prior action.

Put something in place ahead of the offer or add components that make the desired results faster, easier, cheaper.

  1. Cushion in advance.

Add components to reduce the risk or pain of failure.

  1. Equipotentiality.

Change the environment of the prospect or the offer to make the desired result easier.

  1. The other way round.

Change the direction of the offer to help the prospect get the desired result.  Change the way it works, or how it is acquired.  Make it backwards or upside down from the way it’s traditionally done.

  1. Spheroidality/curvature.

Make what’s flat round, what’s linear rotary.  Think in curves instead of straight lines.

  1. Dynamics.

Change the offer or environment during the course of delivery or marketing.  Increase price or change the offer structure during the campaign.  Make harder to get as you go.

  1. Partial or excessive action.

Instead of going for 100%, go for either more or less.  How can you create ANY action, or so much action you can’t help but overshoot your goals?

  1. Another dimension.

Change media.  Add media.  Add tiers of service or price.  Make the digital physical, and vise versa.

  1. Mechanical vibration.

Change the frequency of your offer or communication.  How can you make some part of more frequent?  Or less?

  1. Periodic action.

Instead of making the offer a one-time thing, deliver it in intervals.  Or if it’s currently delivered in intervals, find a way to deliver more at once.

  1. Continuity of useful action.

How can you make the value delivery more continuous?

  1. Rushing through.

Speed up the time until the desired outcome is achieved.

  1. Blessing in disguise.

Transform the worst parts of the offer into something good.

  1. Feedback.

Incorporate a feedback mechanism into the offer to increase the desired result through time.

  1. Intermediary.

Put something between the prospect and the offer to help them get the desired result better.

  1. Self-service.

Make it easier for the prospect or customer to get the benefit through “do it yourself” option where none exist.  Alternately, make the offer itself do some of the work.

  1. Copying.

Create the bargain version of your luxury brand.  Create the luxury version of your bargain brand.  Create the DIY system for your service.  Create the service for your DIY system.

  1. Cheap short-living objects.

Create an offer that fulfills its promise then self-destructs.

  1. Replace mechanical system.

Change or replace something that currently happens through automation.  Add a human touch.

  1. Pneumatics and hydraulics.

Change the principles at play in the delivery of the offer.

  1. Flexible membranes/thin films.

Make the inflexible parts of your offer flexible.   Add a protective cover (figuratively) to the offer.

  1. Porous materials.

Make it easier for things to come in and out of the offer, for the benefit of the customer.

  1. Color change.

Change the color of the offer, product, or service.  Change its appearance.  Make the invisible visible and vibrant.

  1. Homogeneity.

Bring things that are alike about the offer together.

  1. Discarding and recovering.

Make parts of the offer go away before, during, or after purchase.  Alternately, make re-use of the offer easier and more convenient.

  1. Parameter change.

Change individual details or components of the offer.  Change the properties of the offer.

  1. Phase transition.

Make components of the offer change as they are used.

  1. Thermal expansion.

Make components of the offer feel hotter or cooler.  Use the concept of heat to change the focus around the offer.

  1. Accelerated oxidation.

Make your offer breathe.  Help your prospect breathe.  How can the concept of breathing and oxygen — literally or figuratively — change the dynamics of your offer?

  1. Inert atmosphere.

Make everything else around your offer seem ordinary or mundane, uninteresting.

  1. Composite materials.

Change the material components and makeup of your offer.  Bring in external components to make it more effective at delivering value.

How to use this…

As you can tell, some of these are very driven by their engineering origins.  And yet, within many I was able to identify specific breakthroughs that have changed the face of entire industries.

For example, even in #40, composite materials, you can think about the concept of the drive-through window.  It was a component of banks, that was brought into the food industry.

#8, anti-weight, could refer to the digitizing of the training industry.  You used to have to go to classes (in-person!), but now you can get better training online.

Even something like #37, thermal expansion, could spur you to think of package price comparison graphics on a website.  I was talking to someone recently who labeled one of their price tiers as the “hot” option everyone was choosing, and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Use this as a cheat-sheet as you consider ways to increase the appeal of your offer, and you may find a few breakthroughs in it.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr