Tag Archive: food

Marketing the Fringe

Here is a picture of my trusty bag of protein powder; what is the first thing you notice?

What really stands out to me (as they’re in bright bold colors and big font) are the “5lb. value size” and the “New & Improved Flavor” banners…even before I realize that it’s protein powder!

Actually, if you scan the bag, there are many references to the flavor (The top of the bag says “New & Improved BETTER TASTE!”, and, if you look closely, that medal at the bottom is also referring to the taste).

So, why so much hype about the taste? After all, the main point of the protein powder are the nutrients which cause the results, not the taste…

The answer is simple: because protein powder is protein powder. If you want people to buy yours vs. the other guy’s, you need to market the fringe.

If you walked into a store and had to choose between several identical containers of protein powder, each from different manufacturers, and they all only boasted about the nutrients in their protein formula and not about any of their peripheral traits, you’d be much more hard pressed to make a decision as to which one you would buy.

Now, the beauty here is that this same principal can be applied to a plethora of other situations:

  • What makes your fertilizer better than the competitors’ fertilizer? People expect fertilizer to be fertilizer, so saying “our fertilizer makes your lawn greener” is often a futile attempt. Is your fertilizer safer for the environment, your kids, or your pets?
  • What makes your restaurant better than your competitors’ restaurant? Again, folks expect your food to be good, so “our food is better” is seldom effective. Is your theme or atmosphere better? Is your method or approach to service better?
  • …and what makes you better than your co-workers? Your boss still expects you to get your work done, so what is it that really makes you different? Do you have a positive attitude that can’t be defeated? Do you have a knack for drawing people together? 

What is your fringe that needs to be moved to your advertising forefront?

…pretty please make it this one!!!

So I’m hijacking my own blog a little bit because I thought I’d have some fun:

A couple of days ago, I discovered Quirky.com.

Basically, you can submit an idea to Quriky, with a 140 character tagline and a bunch of pictures/drawings, and, if you get enough votes within 30 days and they like your idea, they’ll actually produce it (and you can get some royalties)!



Well, it sounded like fun, so I submitted my Flexible Spatula!

So, here’s my CALL TO ACTION: Please go to this link: http://www.quirky.com/ideations/275496 , and vote for my idea!!!

Now, let’s be clear about somethings before you all think I’m delusional:

I know that I will not get rich off of this idea. I also know that, if this idea is chosen for production, Quirky will get a little richer off of it…and that’s all fine to me.

I love the idea of their site because it brings to market a bunch of products that would otherwise not see the light of day: I didn’t mind devoting the ~40 minutes to draw my design or the ~20 minutes to submit it to Quirky, but I would mind the huge monetary investment into developing materials, creating mold plates, and establishing a good working relationship with China!

Also, they do well playing on the fact that most people are good initiators (they can come up with a plethora of great ideas), but most are awful ‘finishers’ (as this is the part of the job that takes MUCH more work).

On top of all of that, I could, and may, also do a separate post on their website design because it really is top notch (it’s easy to use and it even has a countdown clock for your 30 days that gets as detailed as the seconds until your idea is closed for voting to add to the sense of urgency)!

So, are you feeling inventive? Submit something to Quirky!!!


Well, I had some more fun with Inskscape today, and I wanted to share it with you.

(I was very much inspired by Joseph Joseph. You should really check out all of their awesome gadgets!!!)

Without further ado, I give you the Flex-I-Spatch:

Thanks for looking!!!

My wife and I were walking through Sam’s Club, and we came across an AWESOME salesman. How do I know that he was awesome? Because he was annoying and pushy as heck!

In all seriousness though, I think we can analyze his approach and tactics to improve our ability to influence others and make ourselves more persuasive.

Let’s start from the top…

  1. “How are you doing today, folks?” – You have to get people’s attention. It seems like the part of sales that most people dread: You just plain have to get people’s attention. I’ve seen so many “sales people” who seem like they’re afraid to stand out or get your attention. Plain and simple: if you don’t get my attention, I don’t buy from you.
  2. “Would you like to try a sample?” – You have to be proud of and/or stand behind what you’re selling (or at least give that appearance). I’m actually on the fence about free samples because I’ve seen them misused quite frequently (for example: the farmer offering free samples of blueberries in front of his  stand at the farmer’s market…everyone knows what a blueberry tastes like, and your blueberry isn’t going to draw hordes of customers away from your competitors). What I like about his free sample approach is that he waited for the “That IS good” that follows tasting the free sample, and then he promptly presented the bag “Yeah, and can you believe that it’s frozen?”
  3. “Just heat it up and you’re ready to eat!” – Explain how your product/service is beneficial to your customer and/or makes their life easier. I know, I know, this is the usual salesman stuff, but he wasn’t just saying this as an ‘end all’ statement to close the sale; he was using this to lay the groundwork:
  4. “Ma’am, how would you prepare this for dinner?” – Get your customer to start dreaming of using your product. Oh man…we’re working with a master here… By asking this question, he’s putting you on the spot to start visualizing, start daydreaming, and start responding and taking an active role in the sales pitch. “I’d probably put it in stir fry” my wife said, and I could instantly taste it. Audience participation is a powerful thing.
  5. “Are you ready to pick up a bag?” – Give a ‘call to action’ statement. This part of the pitch is so often overlooked, but it is what actually puts the pressure on and closes the sale! You cannot leave off the call to action statement!!!
  6. “We’re only here for a limited time! – Give a sense of urgency. This deflects the ‘I’ll just pick it up next time’ response and activates the natural human response to act on something when we only have a small window of opportunity.
  7. “Most people are picking up at least two bags!” – Use the crowd mentality to gain credibility and make the customer feel justified. He peer pressured us…with what was most likely a slight un-truth. Well, if everyone else is getting a couple bags, I suppose I’m justified to get two bags too! People draw credibility from what the crowd is doing, and he knew this and played it well. Of course, you can do this differently (through statistics, etc), but playing the numbers is a pretty effective approach/tactic.

We only ended up getting one bag (I have willpower like an ox!), but I felt that his sales approach and style was worth some analysis.

Some frozen Asian food company got their money’s worth out of that sales guy!

Stuck on you

70% Better No-Stick?

First of all, I don’t know if that’s correct grammar or not (but I’m guessing that it’s not…).

Secondly, how the heck did you determine that you’re 70% better at no-stickability? (My best guess: “Hey Earl! Only 3 of my 10 chicken nuggets stuck to the pan!!!”)

Thirdly, I don’t know if this makes your current product look awesome, or if it just makes your old product look like it was really, really bad…

70% is quite a jump in quality…How does that even happen?

What about the Sprouts?!?

So, Jimmy John’s…I heard about your ‘sprouts’ issue; the only issue is how I came to find out about it.

The article which I linked to above clearly states that Jimmy John’s is dropping sprouts from the menu, but, as you can tell from their own website, sprouts are still very much on the menu.

Yes, in its current state, Jimmy John’s has sprouts on the menu, but, when you order, you do not get sprouts on your sandwich. This would lead the average consumer to say “Where are the sprouts?”, which then leads to a very awkward situation.

Jimmy John’s is currently living in a state of false promises: what you see on the menu is not what you get, and they’re also flaunting the fact that they’ve had several salmonella outbreaks linked back to their food.

To put this issue behind them, Jimmy John’s needs to simply remove the sprouts from the list of ingredients on their menu items! It’s not that hard!

Yes, there will be some costs associated with updating all of the menus in every franchise, but how have they not even updated the website yet?!? The article I linked to was from February for goodness sake!

I hate Saran Wrap.

I hate it because I’m one of those folks who just can’t seem to tear a piece from the roll without it sticking to itself. I fuss and bother, and then I usually end up balling it up, throwing it away, grabbing a new sheet, and starting this maddening process all over again (Heck, my phone even autocorrected “Saran Wrap” into “Satan Wrap”…so I guess it’s pretty obvious how HTC feels about Saran Wrap).

How, with all of our modern-day inventions (heat-seeking missiles, robotic surgery, etc) have we not solved the issue of the ‘impossible-to-work-with’ Saran Wrap?

The issue, of course, is the tear. All is fine and dandy until we attempt to use the integrated blade on the box and tear the sheet – that’s when the pandemonium starts.

This has caused many folks to attack the blade. There are contraptions out there on which you can pull a sheet of Saran Wrap and then cut it with a sliding blade, or some folks just stretch the Saran Wrap flat on the counter, and then, while the sheet is supported, cut it with the box blade. The problem with both of these solutions is that they require considerable space (and, if your counter is dirty, the wrap will pick all of that up like a Saran Wrap magnet).

Why do we not yet have Saran Wrap that’s wrapped along with a backing paper? This way, when you pull the roll and cut it, it doesn’t stick to itself (because it’s already on the backing paper). Simply peel and stick the cut sheet to whatever you’re trying to seal.

Will it cost more than traditional Saran Wrap? Yes.

Will it produce more waste? Yes.

Would I buy it if it stops my Saran Wrap frustration? Heck yes.

…Hey, not every solution is 100% pretty.

Mobile Kiwi

In spite of what the rest of the internet says (you’re on your own to search for that), Ripe & Easy Kiwi did make one good marketing/design move:

They made kiwi mobile.

I have fond memories of kiwi growing up. My grandma used to peel it, cut it up in slices, and dish it up for me. I would have become a kiwi-haulic if not for one thing: I seldom have the time to prep a kiwi (…well, that and my grandma moved to Florida).

Therefore, I had given up on Kiwi (in favor of peaches and other more mobile fruit)…until I saw Ripe & Easy Kiwi: The picture on the label was of a girl who had cut the top off of the kiwi, and was scooping it out of the skin like it was a small bowl. BRILLIANT! I can eat kiwi on the go!

I went home and tried this at once…and it was a MESS.

My problem was that my spoon was too big and blunt, and it decimated the peel which let all of the juices run out. Also, you need two tools: the spoon, and the knife to cut the top. Still pretty inconvenient…until I spied something at the bottom of the package:

Included with this kiwi multi-pack was the tool that the girl on the package was using. A slender spoon/knife combination, where the spoon was more narrow and pointed. It did the job excellently, and Ripe & Easy Kiwi even made some extra sales from me because I bought more boxes to get more of the tools (so the wife and I could eat Kiwi together).

Great move, Ripe and Easy Kiwi! Way to make the Kiwi more portable (and yourselves more profitable)!

It’s just a little snack…

My bag of Jimmy John’s chips has only 150 calories. Wait a minute…There are two servings in this tiny bag of chips?!?!

Serving sizes (and how they’ve been determined) have always eluded me. It sometimes seems to me like companies make a game out of ‘fractioning’ their food into servings so they can report lower amounts of calories, fat, carbs, etc.

This led me to do some digging

Apparently the FDA provides information to manufacturers of these food products to determine how much a person is likely to eat in one sitting.

The issue – much of this data comes from surveys performed by the Department of Agriculture back in the 1970s (and, let’s face it, people ate less back then).

So, perhaps my tiny bag of chips could have fed a young fledgling newlywed couple in the 1970s, but what about now (when this bag of chips is just the side to my gigantic sub sandwich and liter of cola)?

Apparently, if an individually-sold product contains less than 200 percent of the “reference amount customarily consumed” (again, determined by the government surveys), companies may list the serving size as “1 bag” or “1 container”, etc, but you can see how companies would want to read over this clause or to split their servings anyway (as it would allow them to only put “150 calories” on their bag instead of “300 calories”).

Well, the FDA actually prefers that the manufacturers label their container as a single-serving “if the entire contents of the package can reasonably be consumed at a single-eating occasion” with no regard to size, but again, it’s no surprise that companies would prefer to stick to the scale set in the 70’s.

Just another way to try to trick the modern consumer…