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. 🙂