Baking Marketing into your Product




Did you know that most cereal companies spend more money on advertising their product than the direct cost (ingredients and labor) to make their corn flakes?

Imagine if you could bake into your product something truly different from your competitor that allows you to have a built-in story that your raving fans want to share? When your customers do your marketing for you, you have a big advantage over your competition. 

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield did this many years ago with their ice cream. They put huge chunks of berries, nuts and chocolate into their ice cream. Not bits, not small pieces but CHUNKS. You could see big pieces of blueberry or huge irregular-shaped chunks of chocolate. Their difference was blended into the product and the story was shared by brand ambassadors like me and millions of other ice cream lovers.  (This of course was before that thing called the Internet so it was almost all word of mouth)

Then, these Vermont entrepreneurs decided that they had certain social causes that mattered to them equally to being profitable. So they decided against using the less expensive types of milk with growth hormones. Their pints of ice cream were GMO-free (genetically modified organism) and they took special care in working with dairy farmers who took a human approach to caring for their cows. Better than most companies, they had millions who loved to retell their stories for them. 

Around 1986 when Ben and I worked together on a Rachel’s Brownies ice cream for his scoop shops, I remember him telling me about his approach to marketing. It was some of the best marketing wisdom I ever heard. I am paraphrasing what he said...

“Don’t market your products. Put that money into the purest and best ingredients for your brownies and let your customers who love them do the marketing work for you.”

Ben Cohen

CEO of Ben & Jerry's  



Here is a challenge:

If you were starting from scratch and could reinvent your product or service, and money was not an issue, what would you put into your offering?  Remember, you should start by dreaming really big and don’t let reality enter into the picture. You can always scale back but get outside of your comfort zone. 

If you market muffins, and everyone else has raisins in 5% of the muffin, what if you had 20%? What if they were organic? What if they exclusively came from a farm that paid a living wage to formerly homeless people? Do you think your raisin muffins would be raised up by your customers? 

What if your company sold to other business a unique software program? Imagine if you refunded 15% of the selling price to allow your customer to use that money to promote and market their product with this rebate? As they became more successful, you get baked into their secret sauce.

Imagine if you were the carpet company that gave away free carpet cleaning once/year for five years if you purchase carpet for your entire home? Why would I shop somewhere else? Who wouldn't I share this story with their friends? What if Stanley Steemer was their cleaning company of choice and they promoted this carpet store to their data base? 

What happens when a lighting fixture store gives away light bulbs for five years with each fixture purchased that sells above $250? What seems unprofitable might turn out to make perfect sense as you have a steady stream of customers who keep learning about your store for the cost of light bulbs? Does this spark any lights in your imagination? 



Allow your customers to tell your story and help you market your brand. Give them something tasty to talk about as they spread your message.













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