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.”
CEO of Ben & Jerry's
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.
Get the paperback version of Unraveling the Mysteries of Marketing. Just $9.99 on Amazon.
Labels: Ben and Jerry, Marketing Moments, Rachel's Brownies