I read a post yesterday by Julien Smith, co-author of Trust Agents with Chris Brogan, titled Donald Trump’s Top Three Tips For Dominating Your Niche. As a true fan of The Apprentice, I felt compelled to read.
Here’s what I learned:
- Donald Trump focuses on creating massive visibility by playing everywhere in his niche,
- he creates extra leverage for his brand through barter and partnerships, rather than via cash-buys (think “The Apprentice”),
- he exceeds expectations by caring about the details, like what the air smells like in his properties.
The last one really caught my eye. Caring about the details – is that what you expect coming from The Donald? Yet. by controlling every little experience detail, Trump projects prestige wherever you look in his properties… or wherever you smell.
HERE’S WHY IT MATTERS.
In response to a first version of this post, Carol Weinfeld commented on how businesses needed to have a Unique Selling Proposition to succeed. Excuse the Marketing 101 – a USP is what you do that your competitors don’t, or what you do dramatically better than anyone else. I could not agree more.
But having a USP is not enough: you need to project it and demonstrate it in remarkable ways.
The “I stand for prestige” message that Donald Trump delivers by controlling the experience down to the way the air smells, other businesses can also achieve by using details as powerful signals of what they stand for. Here’s three more examples, three ways details are used to project a USP. Interestingly, none of them belong to the luxury categories where you could expect the highest attention to detail.
1. “ARTFUL DETAILS” TO SHOW LOVE OF YOUR CRAFT – PAPABUBBLE.
Recently, I visited the New York branch of Papabubble, a boutique candy brand describing themselves as Caramel Artesans. Papabubble reveal their secret right on the website: “(…) excitement and high doses of imagination. To make a Papabubble candy, you need small amounts of sugar and glucose, lots of quality and tons of attention to detail.”
They’re not lying. What you find at Papabubble are multi-colored candies and lollipops with little faces or messages. What’s remarkable is that the messages are not drawn or printed. Rather, every little shape is created by layers and folds built in the very structure of the candy. And they make it right in front of you, in the store.
Don’t ask me how they do it, you have to see it for yourself.
Do the candy taste better because of the messages? No. But taking the time to fold every little letter painstakingly, shows how much they love their creations. What the details project is that everybody in their store is passionate about candy. And if they are so passionate, the candy must taste better.
2. “DETAILED RITUALS” TO PROJECT YOUR EXPERTISE – STELLA ARTOIS.
Stella Artois prides itself on their 9-steps Pouring Ritual – after all, if they’ve spent over 600 years “crafting the perfect beer“, can’t they expect a few seconds more from every bartender to deliver it the right way? When consumers enjoy that perfectly poured Stella, the knowledge of that ritual makes them feel more special – it’s the way beer is supposed to be served and enjoyed; regardless how how much tastier the beer is in reality.
How many other brands do you know that will spend millions of dollars on an ad campaign telling the world how their product should be served? Not a lot. And of course the campaign’s pure genius is to make a made up 9-step pouring ritual, a reality – it puts extra pressure on bartenders to follow it by making their patrons more aware of… a detail.
3. “TOO GENEROUS DETAILS” TO RE-DEFINE AN EXPERIENCE – SPiN NEW YORK.
SPiN New York is a club in the heart of Manhattan with 13,000 feet dedicated to… table tennis. You don’t need to bring anything to play: they’ll outfit you with paddles and balls, and set you up on one of their 16 courts, err, tables. Now, if you’re like me, you really need 3 balls to play; maybe 5. Play with one… keep a couple in your other hand… when they’re all out, have a swag of beer, pick them up and start again. So the expectation is to be given 3 to 5 balls.
Not at SPiN.
SPiN gives you a full bucket of balls. 50, maybe 100. Too many to count. Too many to play with. And that’s the point, because this unexpected generosity changes the way you engage with the game. Now, you have as many balls as you possibly want, to play more competitively, more randomly, more playfully. Who cares if a ball goes across the room, or if you crush one… you’ll never run out. You can even ping-pong fight your mates if you want.
All that time previously spent picking up balls is now spent having fun & socializing; which is why SPiN does not describe itself as a ping-pong place, but as a social place, where you come to drink and chill before you come to play. A bucket of balls goes beyond exceeding consumers expectations – it’s waaay too much. But it’s the fun and over-the-top generous detail that defines the SPiN experience. Also, I suspect, it’s very unexpensive to provide – why wouldn’t you give consumers a bucket of balls?
REMARKABLE DETAILS… ARE NOT REALLY DETAILS
Something seemingly unimportant (at least to your competitors) can have a disproportionate effect on how unique your brand experience will look and feel to your customers. So, it’s always worth spending too much time on seemingly unimportant elements of your mix, like proverbial chocolates on the pillow of a hotel room. Or what you write inside your candy. Or the art of pouring your beer. Or how many balls you let your consumers play with.
What details in your business could you over-commit to, to project how skilled, expert, passionate you really are?
ONE LAST REASON WHY IT MATTERS.
Here’s what your customers will think : if they care about these small details in their business, they will care about another small detail… me.
Eating popcorn, waiting for the feature to start, the cinema audience is watching the usual tunnel of movie trailers and ads. In one of them, Ruben Xaus – World Vice Champion of Superbike – tells the audience “why he races“; a question he gets “every day“.
Should the audience feel particularly interested? Well, the photography is beautiful, wide and low, in black and white; the edit is a good-paced blend of speed and human emotion; the story has got tension, in particular when Ruben concludes “…it’s my dream and it’s your dream too – close your eyes and you will see it.”
The only strange detail is the total absence of branding. Other than that, is it remarkable? Probably not.
Except that when asked to close their eyes at the end of the film, the audience can now see a very distinct BMW logo appear in front of their shut eyes. Magic? Mind-control? Or was it what they wanted to see all along? One thing is for sure, they will be talking about this BMW ad for longer than they will talk about the feature they purchased a ticket for.
You’ll have to watch the video below to find out how BMW did it. It’s actually much simpler than you’d think and borrows more from simple medical knowledge than from the secret codex of a Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
To me, the learning is that when you do truly “remarkable” and hit your audience with a punch they really did not expect, you can achieve all three elements of brand building at once – the creative teams behind this amazing ad turned a common Broadcast occasion into a unique Brand Experience, and will be driving scores of Buzz & Sharing. Yes, it cost them more than the standard advertising slot. Yes, it will also be controversial as it conjures up old demons of subliminal advertising and other neuro-marketing fantasies. But I’d say well worth it, well done BMW!
Let’s just hope the logo did not permanently embed itself on spectators’ retinas 🙂
What do you think?
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