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Newsletter #984: The “Tell Them Why” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

You can have all of the fantastic features you want, but if your customers don’t know why they’re fantastic, those features mean nothing. You have to give them the “why.” You have to say “because…”

Here are three ways to do it:

1. Explain your behind-the-scenes process
2. Share a little-known fact
3. Make an effort to be transparent
4. Check it out: Feed fish from your computer

1. Explain your behind-the-scenes process

Maker's Mark rollermill.

Photo thanks to Maker’s Mark.

Maker’s Mark claims to be “purposefully inefficient” with how they make bourbon. For example, they use a roller mill to break up their grains instead of the modern hammer mill most distilleries use. It’s slower, but it doesn’t scorch the grains like the hammer mill. That’s a tiny detail that would probably go unnoticed if Maker’s Mark didn’t point it out in their email newsletter to their Ambassadors.

The lesson: To most people, the difference between hammer-milled and roller-milled grains means nothing. But Maker’s Mark helped their fans look smart by telling them why they make their bourbon the way they do.

Learn more: Maker’s Mark

2. Share a little-known fact

“No rails to damage your tires.” That was the headline on one car wash’s sign that made them different from the three other car washes on the same street. Did you know that car wash guiderails could damage your tires? Probably not. But it’s that one simple sentence that tells everyone why that business is different.

The lesson: Before this car wash put their selling point on their sign, they probably got a lot of questions like “Where are the guiderails?” Are you listening for these opportunities to explain what small details make you better?

3. Make an effort to be transparent

Coconut oil process

Photo thanks to Harmless Harvest.

When a coconut spoils, it can take on a pink hue. So when Harmless Harvest started selling pink coconut water, people said they were crazy. But as the company explains on their bottles and their site, the coconut water turns pink from antioxidants interacting with light, not spoilage. Harmless Harvest says their coconut water is pink because they refuse to change their product from its natural state — because “nature comes in many colors.” The result: Grocery stores can’t keep Harmless Harvest’s pink coconut water on the shelves.

The lesson: Being true to your brand is one thing. But explaining to your customers why you make decisions strengthens your word of mouth story and gives your products more meaning.

Learn more: Harmless Harvest

4. Check it out: Feed fish from your computer


Photo thanks to The Next Web.

Aquardio is an online portal that lets you feed live fish in a fish tank. You can also release bubbles, check the temperature, and change your view of the tank.

Check it out: Aquardio

How many perspectives do you have

Problems always get easier when you look at them in more than one way. 

If you and your coworkers think alike, you’re going to miss things that are obvious to folks with other backgrounds.

Example: My engineer father-in-law sorted out all these puzzle pieces by shape. I would have done color. 

Who is missing from your team?


How to get everyone to see your fans’ love

This is a post from our project. Check it out for more great word of mouth marketing tips like this every day.

Got big fans? Make a big deal out of it. Amplifying your customer love helps them feel great, helps your employees feel great, and shows everyone else why you’re great.

Here are some fantastic ways to do it:

1. Love them back
2. Make it sharable
3. Show them how to do it

1. Love them back

When Honda asked their fans to show off their love for the brand, they were overwhelmed. They got photos of Honda tattoos, nail art, and one guy who shaved their logo into the back of his head. So it wasn’t enough for Honda to send these big fans a simple thank-you note. Instead, the company reciprocated the love by showing the exact kind of appreciation they got from each fan back to them. They shaved the guy’s name into the back of one employee’s hair, wore t-shirts with a customer’s name on them, and mowed another fan’s name into the Honda headquarters’ lawn.

2. Make it sharable

Want everyone to hear the nice things your customers are saying about you? Turn their feedback into something people will want to share. Wendy’s did it by gathering messages of praise for their new Pretzel Burger and getting some guy to sing them lounge-style. The YouTube video is hilarious — which means lots of people shared it with their friends (and a lot more people heard all of the fantastic stuff customers are saying about Wendy’s).

3. Show them how to do it

Lots of companies have walls of fame or pages on their website for customer love letters and fan photos. Make it easier for your customers to contribute to these. Post something like “Want to get on the wall? Here’s how.” One example: Crowdrise emails step-by-step instructions for new members to get their photo on their fan page. You’ll be surprised how many of your customers would love to tell you how much they like you, but aren’t sure how.

A different way to ask for feedback

Don’t send a generic survey. Definitely don’t send a long survey.

Instead, ask: What one thing can we do better?

You’ll get great ideas you can actually use.

Newsletter #983: The “It’s Not an Ad” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

People don’t share advertising with their friends — but they will share something fun, exciting, and surprising. Are you doing that with your direct mail, posters, or TV commercials?

Here are three examples of how to make marketing more than just an ad:

1. It’s not an ad. It’s a cat toy.
2. It’s not an ad. It’s a photo op.
3. It’s not an ad. It’s fun.
4. Check it out: watchout4snakes

1. It’s not an ad. It’s a cat toy.

cat nip ad

Photo thanks to PSFK.

Direct mail is one of the oldest marketing tools in the book — and most of it gets ignored. But Bulk Cat Litter Warehouse got their mail noticed by printing it on catnip-scented paper. They knew that if people brought the mail into their house, cats would sniff out the ad themselves and do what every cat does with catnip: go nuts over it. By simply changing up the medium, the company turned their flyers into cat toys, not ads.

The lesson: Are you thinking of what your customers will do with your ads every step of the way?

Learn more: PSFK

2. It’s not an ad. It’s a photo op.

Flower Council emergency rose

Photo thanks to Adweek.

For Valentine’s Day, the Flower Council of Holland placed these red emergency boxes with a single rose in them all over Paris, saying “In case of love at first sight, break glass.” Under that was a small URL, “” No logo, no cheesy call-to-action, no sign of an ad. In fact, the link goes to a blog full of great content about… flowers.

The lesson: The Flower Council could have plastered the red boxes with stuff about tourism, flower shops, or some reminder about Valentine’s Day. Instead, they gave passersby a great photo op linked to something even more remarkable (and non-salesy) online. How are you drawing your customers in with remarkable content?

Learn more: Adweek

3. It’s not an ad. It’s fun.

LEGO didn’t need to boost sales with a movie. So when they partnered with writers to make The LEGO Movie, they did it for fun — not profit. Their customers would have seen right through a commercial disguised as a movie. Instead, they focused on quality writing, great voice actors, and a good story. Not everyone has the budget to make a multi-million-dollar blockbuster. But you do have the option to make something fun.

The lesson: Play around with your stuff, make some art, and share it with your customers. It doesn’t have to sell anything or show off any benefits — in fact, it shouldn’t.

Learn more: Contently

4. Check it out: watchout4snakes

Check it out!

Photo thanks to watchout4snakes.

This site will give you a completely random word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph each time you refresh. Sometimes the combinations it creates seem almost poetic.

Check it out: watchout4snakes

2 steps to achieving true excellence

Step 1: Put someone in charge of watching the details. Step 2: Make sure everyone knows that the details matter. Example: I’m staying in a very nice hotel with exquisite branding. Everything is perfectly designed. They even change the floor mats in the elevator from “Good Morning” to “Good Afternoon” to “Good Evening”.  That’s Step […]

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3 word of mouth tips for local businesses

This is a post from our project. Check it out for more great word of mouth marketing tips like this every day. Local businesses have a great opportunity to tap into community pride and earn passionate word of mouth from people around town. The businesses that get this right become the icons of a […]

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