Many people feel that their blog topics are too common and mundane to be remarkable. The truth is, most businesses and topics are viewed as commodities, so it’s crucial to find an angle that sparks interest and separates you from the pack.
Let’s look at the history of American beer—an industry filled with similar tasting, and some would argue completely unremarkable, products. You’ll see that products that are very similar to others can be distinguishable and remarkable, simply by telling the right story, using the right words, and better serving the right audience.
Hopefully, these specific examples will spark your imagination so you can build up your blog subscriptions. But first, let’s hit the beer.
Be Remarkable By Talking About What Others Take for Granted
Over a year ago I shared with you the famous story of copywriter Claude Hopkins and the work he did for Schlitz Beer. Back in the 1920s, Schlitz Beer was the number five brand in the American beer market, and Hopkins had to do something to make things better. So Claude started with a tour of the facilities.
He was shown how the beer was cooled in a fashion that eliminated impurities. He saw the expensive white-wood pulp filters. His hosts told him that every pump and pipe was cleaned twice for purity, and each bottle sterilized four times before being trusted to hold Schlitz beer. He saw the 4,000 foot well that supplied the water, despite the fact that nearby Lake Michigan would have provided an otherwise acceptable source.
When Hopkins asked why Schlitz didn’t tell their customers about all of this rigorous attention to purity and quality, the response was “Every beer company does this.”
“But others have never told this story,” Hopkins replied.
Hopkins took Schlitz from 5th place to 1st in a matter of months with the story that everyone else took for granted. This example of remarkable positioning is repeated religiously in books about advertising and buzz marketing, most recently in the excellent Made to Stick. The authors even blogged the story earlier this week, as an example how concrete details in a story make the message resonate.
What details do your competitors take for granted that can be built into a story your readers want to hear?
Be Remarkable By Identifying More Closely With a Poorly Served Audience
Miller Beer is a powerhouse in the American Beer industry, but it wasn’t always the case. Back before they were acquired by what was then Phillip Morris in 1969, Miller as a distant laggard compared with industry-leading Budweiser, and was in 6th place overall. The needed a Hopkins-like turnaround, and in Buzz Marketing Mark Hughes tells how they did it.
Miller’s leading brand at the time was Miller High Life, “The Champagne of Beers.” That’s a great way to rise above the rest of the pack, right?
Wrong, because 80% of beer is consumed by blue collar workers, and champagne is not the metaphor these folks are looking for in a beer. In fact, these folks are not looking for a metaphor at all. They want a beer, plain and simple, after a hard day’s work.
Interestingly enough, it was a metaphor that did the trick. A simple three word phrase that has become synonymous with the end of the work day for many in the blue collar world and beyond:
It’s Miller Time.
If you can identify what a group of people really want at an emotional level, and find ways to satisfy that with your content, you’ll have subscribers who love you and recommend you to others.
Be Remarkable By Identifying and Expanding New Trends
Miller didn’t stop there, and achieved true break through success by performing a seemingly impossible task. They convinced burly beer-drinking men that a “light” beer was a smart, cool thing to do.
While light beer is the rule rather than the exception these days, it certainly wasn’t the case back in the early 1970s. And unlike now, touting the health and fitness benefits of light beer would have gotten you absolutely nowhere. So Miller was in a bind to figure out how to sell the new “Lite” brand they had acquired from Meister Brau.
The answer came from a small town named Anderson, Indiana, where a disproportionately large amount of Schlitz Light was being sold. Turns out that light beer sold well in Anderson because it was a unique environment; 75% of all beer was consumed in restaurants and bars, rather than 25%, which was the national norm. In other words, the beer was gaining in popularity in word-of-mouth public environments—people see other people drinking the beer and talking about why, and start drinking it too.
Miller’s ad agency sent two people to Anderson to listen to what bar patrons where saying about light beer. Turns out they didn’t give a flip about calories or health. They liked that it was less filling, so they could drink more!
Miller took what they learned and launched a massive national advertising campaign to make Lite the beer of choice everywhere out side of Anderson. Eventually they struck gold by pitting celebrities in arguments with one another… not about whether or not drinking Lite was a good thing, but about what the best part of drinking Lite was.
Tastes Great! / Less Filling!
And of course in the consumers mind, the natural answer was both. It’s the epitome of understatement to say a lot of Lite Beer has been sold since.
Social media is just like those bars and restaurants in Anderson, Indiana. You’re free to see and listen to what people are doing and saying, and you can even ask pointed questions and listen a bit more. Identifying new trends is critical to business and to blogging, but figuring out how to expand the audience beyond the initial trend setters is where the gold is found.
What About Drinking Beer While Blogging?
Some of you may be disappointed that the secret to remarkable blogging is not drinking beer while blogging. But hey, David Ogilvy poured himself a drink before he sat down to write an ad, and it’s no secret that many bloggers imbibe while they crank out a post.
Just stay away from that “tipping point” where you go from inspired to deluded. The truism that too many drinks makes everything look better applies to writing, too. 🙂
Reader Comments (59)
Michael A. Stelzner says
Great post. Great story.
I think many people do not understand that just because everyone does it, doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it.
Aaron B. Hockley says
I chuckled a bit because there have been a few times when I think I get my words flowing most freely after a beer…
Hey thanks for sharing stories like this, they are always inspiring… I would make the title of the post ‘Are inspiring stories the key for remarkable stories?’ Thanks again.
I meant …for remarkable blogging… ops.
I really liked the Schlitz beer story. Coca-Cola copied this a couple years ago with their “filtered five times” campaign for Dasani … which most water bottlers do.
Deya Bautista says
I took the post title literally and came to find out if Brian was serious. I wonder now if it would have had the same effect if instead of “beer” was “wine”.
The post was highly informative, thank you Brian. I wasn’t familiar with Monsieur Ogilvy until now, thanks to this post.
Now…trying to incorporate this new info into the home-selling techniques here in Montreal.
What about those bloggers who instead of “tip me” have “buy me a beer” so they get donation money. Do you think people profit from that sort of monetization in their blog?
I live fairly close to and have a friend from Anderson, IN and he’d appreciate this post …except he’s probably in a bar drinking … white wine !
That was a well thought out, well researched and very edutaining post.
If you’ll come to Louisville to get it, I’ll buy you a beer.
I don’t drink bear. It’s not healthy.
It’s time to take care of your health…
Christopher Santos says
I tend to agree Brian.
Kfir Pravda says
I vote for Whisky actually 🙂
Christopher Luna says
Crazy Marketer says
Something similar that I blogged…
“From my experience, I can say that the best marketing ideas come to you when you are high! …”
Brian, I feel the same way about these guys. Hopkins and Eugene Schwartz were spot on. The creativity is in your product and your market. Eugene was right. Hopkins just identified the things that people already knew or did about the beer, and he turned them into concrete benefits.
Emotional benefits to boot 🙂
Yikers!!! theres two of us (shanes that is). While watching my team get their As$es handed to them last night in Anaheim, I payed particular attention to the beer ads (funny that a beer campaign is mentioned in a blog) Brian must have been doing the same last night… anyways I digress a bit. I noticed now that the keyword that theyre playing on is good and alright. Ie the labats blue commercial “The Good stuff” and “the alright stuff” good being Blue and alright being a micro brew from the looks of it. But the telling and selling point was the price point at which googd stuff is good stuff (I don’t drink Blue I drink Canadian) “The Good Stuff” is 18.99 for 28 bottles. SO while the ad tries to differentiate between “good” and “alright” I think the leading edge of that ad campaign was 18.99 for 28 bottles is GOOD. It plays upon or tries to plant a seed of indecision. Apparently regular beer drinkers stand at the cash and can’t make up their minds? I’ve never expereinced that phenomenon :-P. However keiths is good too, but only when I’m at a BBQ , Keiths and Burgers mmmmmm what a combo. Its still a little early here in Canada for Beer. (eek did I just say that?)
Did someone say “beer”? What a perfect way to start off my morning. Now thanks to you, I can’t wait until 5:00 (it’s 9:00am) so I can sit down, toss a few back, and watch the Spurs/Cavs game. *sigh*
Robert John Ed says
That was a “remarkable” post and a great reiteration of what many of us marketers forget. Keep it simple, stupid…
Adam Snider says
Great post Brian. Well written (as usual), and a title that definitely hooks the reader!
Great information here, too.
One of my all-time favorite quotes: “Sometimes I reflect on all the beer I drink and I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn’t drink, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. So I think, ‘It is better to drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.’”
Who penned this fine copy? See http://www.franchisepick.com/the-answer-is-revealed/
(this blogging is making me thirsty…)
Brian Clark says
Nice one, Sean. 😉
Steven Bradley says
Great examples Brian. I’ll add that you if you do reach that tipping point after one too many beers you may very well write a remarkable post. Just maybe not the kind of post you want people to remark about.
Todd Mintz says
I would substitute “hard core exercise” for beer, but the principle is the same. Slightly altering one’s consciousness is extremely good for generating ideas to write about or discovering new SEM techniques to use for work.
Thanks. Now I can go home early. As my Uncle Angus used to say “I’ve got a Tirst you could photograph!”
Ahhhh….one of my favorite subjects….beer! This is a great post and enlightening as well. Now I have to go to FranchisePick to see where that quote came from, (see comments above).
So which ideas can and can’t I steal now? 😉
Mark Herpel says
Ah, for my money, Sam Adams rules. Great post.
Hamlet Batista says
Ted Demopoulos, Blogging for Business says
I often BWD (blog while drinking). Maybe everyone does? I should write about this?
Can’t do it now — I’m stone cold sober 🙂
Seriously, I usually blog late at night, extremely often with a glass of wine. Sometimes a beer.
Just what I thought…American beers are unremarkable unless marketing intervenes.
Chad P. Flick says
That was an awsome read thanks! I think I’ll have to crack one open now 🙂
I’d have to say that my best posts are on a site largely about beer! Of course, I don’t usually drink it while blogging.
Des Walsh says
Reminded me that in the old Compuserve forum days some of used to refer to being engaged in d&t – drinking and typing.
“What About Drinking Beer While Blogging?”
how about “blogging while drinking beer”?
very ecouraging post!
Beer in summer, coffee in winter. They both work well for blogging.
Motorcycle Guy says
“If you can identify what a group of people really want at an emotional level, and find ways to satisfy that with your content, you’ll have subscribers who love you and recommend you to others.” what haha come on get really you know that was the corniest statement you have ever typed.
In regards to your last paragraph:
Ah, beer. Nothing sparks the imagination more. Like this dude, pretty weird beer-song:
(Over 18s only!)
Ha. Nice article. Although, I disagree… blogging while drinking inspires some of my better posts.
Andrew Cavanagh says
In Australia we have a very entertaining series of ads to sell Victoria Bitter (a popular beer).
This beer company expands on their own original and very successful ad
“After a hard day’s work you need a beer…”
With a whole series of ads about “and after a hard nights drinking there’s the kebab then the trip to the emergency ward for food poisoning”.
Any VB drinker would tell you that beer is the key to remarkable blogging and I’m sure that’s true.
Of course there’s a big difference between “remarkable” and readable.
Gary Turner says
It all comes back to Elmer Wheeler’s “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Nobody buys a slab of dead cow on a plate, but folks do buy the sound of the sizzle, and the way their mouths water in anticipation. They buy what makes them feel good, the benefits. It doesn’t hurt to have a great headline like, “Sell the … . 🙂
Awesome, awesome, awesome post!
I prefer tequila, but whatever floats your boat.
Thanks a ton for the drink for thought!
Jen / domestika says
Drink as you write to release the muse… but edit (before posting) the morning after!
David Binkowski says
“Just stay away from that “tipping point” where you go from inspired to deluded. The truism that too many drinks makes everything look better applies to writing, too. :)”
That explains my overflowing draft folder. No pun intended. 😉
Brian Jackson says
Hey Brian what is your source for the info on Schlitz Light and Anderson Indiana? That is my hometown so I just had to ask. I stumbled onto your post looking for the phone number of my friend Brian Clark (who lives in Anderson) to see if he can go fishing next week so we both can drink beer together! Not that light stuff though at our age a full body beer is the choice. Good post! Brian
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