What do you really sell? (It’s not what you think)

What sells kids cereals is the same thing that sells Happy Meals; not the food, but the toy.

What sells American Express isn’t a credit card, it’s the community.

What sells at Zappos isn’t the shoes, it’s the customer service.

What separates Tiffany’s from the cheaper shop down the road, isn’t a higher quality product, it’s the blue box. The box is such a big deal that they sell a porcelain version of it for $75.

What keeps a little restaurant in Tokyo, Japan in business (and thriving) isn’t the quality of the food, it’s the monkey waiters (not a joke).

The stuff that separates the invisible from the remarkable often isn’t the core product you offer. It’s the extra stuff. The special bonus. The story. The free prize inside. The little irresistible nugget that makes you worth talking about.

What do you really sell?


Don’t take yourself so seriously

This applies to personal advice and for your business as well. Everybody is too serious nowadays, have some fun and your customers will love you for it (and talk about you more too).

Case Study 1 – nudie

Yes, you read that right. The drink’s name is nudie… and yes, that’s a picture of an embarrassed naked cartoon person on the label. No it’s not a pornographic related drink. Just your regular juice, but with an awesome word-of-mouth twist.  Here’s the back of a nudie smoothie:

In case you can’t read that, here’s the text version:

“What is a nudie smoothie?
Okay, so you’re thinking ‘where’s the fruit in this one?’ It’s not hiding. It’s vanila! Somewhere along the line we found out that vanilla is the only edible fruit in the orchid family. (A handy fact to keep up your sleeve for awkward silences or BBQs.) As for those happy cows, they’ve been partying non-stop ever since they discovered the word ‘moo’ in smoothie. At first they were concerned about subliminal advertising but we quickly assured them no nudie drinkers would be harmed. The cows are now over the moon.”

Let’s see:

1. They told a brief and entertaining history about the drink
2. Gave you a quick fun fact
3. Personified cows
4. Made some more jokes
5. Made a reference to an old nursery rhyme
Bonus: They give you their address, email address, and website URL as well. Seriously?!

This whole company is positioned as light-hearted and fun. I don’t even drink it, just checking out the label alone made it worth talking about. As a consumer and a marketer, all I can say is “that’s freakin’ awesome!”

Oh and one more picture. This is what I get when I searched for their website on Google:


Give them a visit: www.nudie.com.au

Case Study 2 – Zappos

Zappos, big online shoe retailer as you know, made about $1 billion in sales last year. This is probably old, but I went to their site, scrolled down and found this (highlighted with a red circle):

Naturally, I clicked it. Even big money-printing corporations can have some fun. Here’s the video it led me to:

Yep. Just got RickRoll’d by a billion dollar company.

Visit Zappos: www.zappos.com

You don’t exist.


Question: What does Martin Luther King, Fight Club and Nintendo have in common?

Answer: Challenge conventional wisdom.

The only thing any of them have in common is that they have nothing in common with the widely accepted norms at the time. Martin Luther King stood out for challenging the state of black civil rights, Fight Club rallied against being what society wants you to be, and Nintendo succeeded for reimagining how videogames are experienced.

In today’s hyper-cluttered world, people do not have the time to pay attention to every average joe, product, venture, company or idea. There are variations stacked on alternatives built by slight differences. Go to your local supermarket and you’ll find a hundred different soft drinks. Your nearest book store has dozens and dozens of cookbooks in stock (and hundreds more available for order). More and more products are being pumped out every day but the amount of time we have remains constant. So obviously if your offering is relatively standard with minor modifications it won’t stand out, right? Right. If it doesn’t stand out it’ll be ignored since we don’t have enough time, correct? Correct.

In that case I have another question for you:

Why do you think adding your product to the endless clutter of monotonous offerings will work?!

It seems so obvious that it won’t work yet everyday we see people putting their clutter out on top of existing clutter creating even more clutter. ‘What’s the solution then?’ I hear you ask. Here it is:

Avoid the crowds altogether.

Make a list of everything in your industry that is the norm. Something that is always done. The Standard. If you make your product following these benchmarks your product will join the crowd. That’s bad. Here’s something to think about: Take the list that you’ve made, study every point, and for your own company… do the complete opposite! Do what’s never done in your industry. To stand out from the crowd you have you avoid the crowd altogether. Create your own category.

If you don’t and you do what everyone else does, you’re invisible because you don’t stand out.

You don’t exist.

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Welcome, New Marketing

Just as aluminium tennis racquets replaced wooden racquets, and modern physics took over from classical physics, New Marketing is here to give our outdated marketing practices the almighty boot.

Old marketing doesn’t work as well any more. Our market is over-cluttered with too many solutions for problems that we’ve already solved. We’ve got more and more products, but less and less time to go through them. Now that our economy is in a downturn we have less money to throw around as well. The old system of the TV-industrial complex (see Purple Cow by Seth Godin) is no longer effective. Interruption media is no longer effective. We’ve gotten too damn good at ignoring every ad that comes our way.

Our modern interruption marketing is dead. New Marketing is the baby we need to nurture.

Seth Godin calls it being remarkable. Hugh MacLeod calls it the Social Object. But it’s just two ways of describing the same thing: the new currency for marketers is what we’ve always wanted – ‘that little somethin’ special’. That little somethin’ that gets people talking, that something’ interesting, new, different, special etc. That little somethin’ built into your product, rather than creating the common stock pig good. It’s the ‘remarkability’ of the product. It’s the ability of the product itself to get people ‘socialising’ about it. New Marketing is a shampoo whose bottle’s texture feels like smooth hair (or maybe that’s just tacky).

New Marketing is the future and I’m solidly in. How about you?

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