A few months ago, I attended a friend’s birthday party. Lots of people, lots of snacks, apartment straight out of an IKEA catalog, the whole nine yards. Alongside the cookies, pretzels and popcorn, one snack stuck out like a dislocated thumb–a giant bowl of green apples. As you might expect, the apples spent the first half of the shindig completely untouched. No one goes to parties to eat healthy, right?
And then, on a whim, a friend and I decided to take a bite out of Granny Smith. Almost immediately, the idea spread like influenza throughout the room as partygoers chose fruit over snack food. Within minutes, the huge bowl of apples was as empty as a moon crater.
Like the snack selection at a birthday party, why are some brands the talk of the town while others wallow in obscurity? Beyond the traditional marketing mix (product, distribution, price, promotion) the trendsetting success of certain products and services often seems random and mysterious. In this highly-competitive market, tiny advantages can spark a bonfire. Combine these four ingredients to stand out like a green apple in a pile of pretzels.
Get psyched about your brand. Don’t sell yourself short or hide your light under a bushel. Have some fun with your website, blog and social media. Cheer on your product like an overzealous soccer mom. Passion and belief are infectious, but so is self-doubt.
Word of mouth is more effective than a hundred Super Bowl ads; the recommendation of a confidant is more convincing than a thousand billboards. Get out there and hawk your product like a ballpark beer vendor. Be enthusiastic, not obnoxious. Remember, cash cows are raised on a diet of grassroots.
Being out of place is not necessarily a weakness. Like apples among traditional party fare, being different can catch your audience off-guard and help you get noticed. With advertisements clamoring for our attention 24/7, the element of surprise is a great way to stand out from the crowd.
Trendsetting is high risk, high reward. The apples could have easily sat undisturbed for the entire event. Emulate Apple and the iPod–give your audience what they want before they know they want it. Does that sound risky and difficult? It’s the difference between a trendsetter and an also-ran.
You’ve got the right product; you just need to find the right people in the right place at the right time. Easier said than done, of course. But if a plus-sized bowl of green apples can outperform cookies and popcorn at a birthday party, your brand can take a big, juicy bite out of your industry’s market share.