Tips For Standing Out In A Crowded Marketplace
Magazine / Tips For Standing Out In A Crowded Marketplace

Tips For Standing Out In A Crowded Marketplace

Tips For Standing Out In A Crowded Marketplace

Getting attention for you and your message is tough.  You need something that cuts through the clutter and shows rather than tells.  Here’s how to do it.

A few blocks from my house is a drinking establishment called Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company.  To call it a bar, or even a lounge, would be an understatement. Franklin Co. is part of the recent wave of craftsman drinking establishments that serves a range of artisanal cocktails.  No vodka, no red bull. Franklin Co.’s drinks are carefully designed to stimulate the palate. Organic egg white, apple butter, and Hibiscus Syrup are just a few of the specialty ingredients that make up some of their delightful potions.

But in case this isn’t enough, Franklin Co. has something else going for it: Three types of ice.

As I talk about in Contagious, Franklin Co. has the same problem all of us have.  Standing out.  There are hundreds if not thousands of applicants for most job openings.  Dozens of businesses that offer a similar product or service.  Competition is fierce.  In Franklin’s case, more than a handful of other bars, lounges, and watering holes in a two block radius.

Everyone is competing for the same thing.  Attention.  Trying to rise above the clutter just enough to get noticed.  To get hired, chosen, or purchased from.  Out of a sea of often similar seeming alternatives.

So how can you get that attention?  How can you get people to stop, take notice, and maybe even tell others what they just saw?

How about three types of ice.

Most people have never thought twice about ice.  There’s the ice in your freezer, which looks pretty similar to the ice in your friend’s freezer, which looks pretty similar to the ice they serve in most restaurants.  When it’s hot you want more of it. When it’s cold you want less.  In fact, until this article you probably hadn’t given ice much thought.  Ever.

So when you hear that a bar has three types of ice, your curiosity is piqued.  What are the three types?  How are they different?  Why would anyone need two types of ice, let alone three?

But people who care about craftsman drinks care a lot about ice.  Different types of ice melt at different rates, so having the right ice for each libation is key to creating the optimum drinking experience.

Kold-Draft cubes are frozen from the bottom up.  Constantly stirred to create perfectly clear cubes, these squares are free of air bubbles which enable them to melt more slowly. Cracked or shaved ice is perfect for swizzles or sweeter cocktails.  Packed high in a glass, the high surface area encourages faster melting that helps round out the flavors.  And finally, big rock ice, hand carved from a larger block, has just the right melting speed for classic cocktails like an Old Fashioned.

But three types of ice do much more than just make drinks better.  They serve as a walking, talking advertisement.  Something that grabs attention, cuts through the clutter, and generates word of mouth.  Three types of ice open a curiosity gap and makes people want to learn more.  “What type of place would have three types of ice and why? “ Three types of ice is what Seth Godin would call a purple cow, remarkable information that draws people in and compels them to share.  “You’ll never believe this place just down the street from my house…”

But most importantly, as I talk about in Contagious, three types of ice is a Trojan Horse story.  A vessel or carrier that brings the key message along for the ride, hidden inside. All bars say they have good drinks, just like all resumes say the applicant is smart and hard working.  Just like all brands say they care about their customers.

But saying it isn’t enough.  Everyone says it so no one believes it.  You need something more.  Something that shows rather than tells.  Something that carries your message home by demonstrating it rather than just claiming it.

Three types of ice.

Three types of ice carries Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. message better than any advertising or marketing mubo jumbo ever could.  Not just “we’re committed to handcrafted drinks,” but “we’re so committed to handcrafted drinks that no detail goes unnoticed.”  Even the ice.

So what are your three types of ice?  What’s the information, story, or nugget of content that will make people want to find out more about you?  Make them stop and read your resume a second time.  Make them visit your establishment, buy your product, or hire your service.  Just saying it isn’t enough.  Anyone can do that.  You have to show it.  Sharpen your message into something so remarkable that people can’t help but be engaged.


Jonah Berger is a Marketing professor at the Wharton School.  Want to find your three types of ice? Check out his New York Times bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On  to learn how.

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