Principle 6: “That’s Interesting, Tell Me More.”

Book Discussion:
“Sticky Branding” by Jeremy Miller

We reached Principle 6 of Miller’s book “Sticky Branding” called “That’s Interesting. Tell Me More.” The words every small business owner loves to hear, but, according to Miller, pose one of the greatest obstacles in the sales process. I couldn’t agree more. Indifference is our enemy. This is partly due to the overwhelming amount of information in the marketplace, but partly because […] customers will primarily choose what they already know.” […] They select options they are already comfortable with.” (page 94) So the big question now is: how do we get not-yet-buyers to know us and, ultimately, feel comfortable doing business with us? The short answer is: by engaging them, by standing out, and by giving them a good reason to stick with us.

To better understand what this could look like, let’s take one of Miller’s examples: Muldoon’s Coffee . I find it’s a brilliant example. Let’s go. 

Muldoon’s coffee is a coffee roastery and corporate coffee service, delivering high quality coffee with an environmentally friendly brewing system. In the early 2000s they noticed a tremendous growth in specialty coffee houses such as Starbucks. Muldoon’s conclusion: people crave a good cup of coffee. Taking this a step further, they noticed that many professionals left their offices just to buy a good cup of coffee. Further research revealed that each employee spends approximately 125 hours per year buying their good cup of coffee from a coffee place vs. drinking the coffee in their office. Armed with this insight, Muldoon’s developed a single-serve environmentally friendly brewing system and coffee pouches.

Now let’s see how they translated this into a storyline that would attract and also engage their prospective customers. Instead of bragging about their coffee, they chose to talk about the “corporate productivity drain,” and that “6% of [business] payroll is walking out of the door for coffee” (page 97), and they then posed the question “Why go out for coffee?” These phrases struck a nerve with business owners and employees alike and created a water-cooler moment. For the latter to lament about their office coffee and for business owners to question whether it’s worth losing employee productivity and money over a cup of coffee. A situation that could easily be fixed with Muldoon’s environmentally friendly brewing system. 

The point I’m trying to make is that the “conversation” Muldoon’s started wasn’t about their coffee, but related to coffee and coffee breaks. It resonated with their prospective customers and allowed for a conversation. Do you remember the headline of this blog? “That’s Interesting. Tell Me More.” With a conversation you draw your prospective customer in. You give them something to talk about. You let them know that you understand them and their problems. And along the way they get to know you. What kind of product or service do you sell? What is important to your customers? What conversation could you start to convince prospective customers? 

Miller distinguishes between three elements that are equally important to start and keep this conversation going. You need: 

  1. A topic that you know well and that draws from your company’s core skills and assets. (Expertise) 
  2. A topic you’re passionate about and can take a stance on. (Strong Opinion)
  3. A topic that resonates with your market and encourages others to participate. (Point of Sharing) 

Here is how Muldoon’s are doing it. They exploit the fact that many office coffee makers brew inferior coffee and, in doing so, show that they understand their market and pain point of their prospective customers; employees who leave the office to get a good cup of coffee and business owners who lose employee productivity and money because of it. 

Based on their research and insights they take a strong stance and use it to their advantage. Why leave the office to get a good cup of coffee… if we have a great solution for you. But they don’t say it, they only imply it. 

And if that wouldn’t convince a prospective customer or business owner, Muldoon’s add that their brewing system is environmentally friendly. A value and world view many can relate to. “Shared values are broad topics and usually revolve around the environment, religion, equality, human rights, or preventing poverty. […] People not only love to talk about their values, they like to work with others to act on them.” (page 103)

Muldoon’s pulls all three elements together beautifully. They show their expertise and understanding for their customers, they are passionate about it and did research that could lead to a win-win-situation for both employees and business owners, and their topics resonated with their audience. Talking or, better, lamenting about the poor taste of coffee in the office kitchen is a water-cooler moment. 

There is another example in the book worth mentioning. It’s about a three-minute video titled “Real Beauty Sketches” that was created by Dove in 2013. It is about how women perceive themselves vs. how others see them. The first day, an FBI-trained forensic sketch artist draws pictures of women based on their self-perception and description, the second day the forensic sketch artist creates a drawing of the same women described by a stranger. Referring back to the three elements described above, this video fulfilled all three. It was bold, defying the common beauty paradigm and used normal women for a beauty campaign instead of models. In an homage to women and every woman’s beauty, Dove took a stance by putting this message into pictures. And the fact that it was viewed over thirty million times and shared over 660,000 times is a clear indicator that it resonated with their audience and was worth sharing and talking about.    

On a little side note: If you need a little boost–and who doesn’t right now?–watch the video LINK. I hope it will make you pause for a moment and consider how you look at your reflection in the mirror and how someone else may see you. Look at the women in the video and their reaction. I feel it speaks volumes. 

After this little detour, let’s get back and wrap this principle up. Do you have other suggestions on how to overcome the indifference trap? What are you doing to persuade prospective clients to become customers? How do you get them to listen? 

I can’t wait to read about your suggestions and thoughts in the comments below. 

Talk to you next week.

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