I was a marketing major in college. Well, Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. So a marketing major. Marketing became the focus after trying out Accounting, Economics and Finance each for a semester, not for me. There’s something oddly scientific about marketing. About what can create an appeal, trigger an emotional response and inspire someone to buy something they may or may not need, but now want. That distinction between want and need is what marketing is all about.
After deciding on marketing, I took a psychology class to complete a required credit. The two were so intertwined and interesting that I stacked the rest of my semesters in college to make it my minor. Now it’s hard to see a commercial or advertisement in the world without thinking about who their trying to appeal to and how they’re triggering that appeal. I’ve decided to break down the marketing tactics and campaigns that I found the most innovative, engaging or just plain enjoyable.
Marketing as a Narrative
Some of my favorite marketing techniques are the ones that tell a story of how and why a product was created. If done properly it can make the viewer/reader sympathize with the founder’s problem, and instantly become a fan, if not an advocate, of their solution. This strategy can not only generate a lot of interest and boost branding, but it can create brand loyalty. How many times have you thought, ‘I like this company, so I’ll check out their new product.’ Apple is a great example of achieving brand loyalty and establishing the brand around a goal Steve Jobs mentioned numerous times. Build a computer that his friends could use. Something for the everyday user. The future of Apple mirrored that sentiment, as their product focus continued to base itself around easy to adopt hardware and software.
The example I’m talking about today appealed to a love of mine, spicy foods. I like to consider myself an amateur hot sauce connoisseur. Connoisseur is probably overstating my status, maybe hot sauce enthusiast is better, there’s rarely any science to my dabbling with different hot sauces.
Somebody shared this story on Facebook last week, written by David Polinow, of a hot sauce called WuJu created by Larry Wu. I was so swayed by the story that I’ve now ordered their product. The story was so well written and included so many observations with which I agreed, that half way through the article I was in Larry’s camp. I was sympathizing with his annoyance of finding too many vinegary hot sauces, or ones with too much kick and not enough flavor. Trying hot sauce after hot sauce with very little variability was a problem I could easily relate to.
The story does the 3 things that savvy investors like Chris Sacca or successful salespeople like Bryan Neale say are necessary to outline in a pitch of any kind. Identify a problem in an industry. Detail your solution to the problem. And the most important piece, explain why you are the perfect person to execute on that solution. Not just the perfect person, but the only person who can properly execute it.
The story of Larry not only establishes that feeling of a problem in the hot sauce industry and how he discovered it, but details how he went about creating a solution. Through that explanation, the article expands on how Larry had a unique vision for his hot sauce, and executed that solution in his own way. After rigorous product testing and finally being happy with the finished product, Larry went about branding and distribution in an uncommon way. He found a community of fellow hot sauce lovers and sent free bottles to all of them at his own expense. Through that initiative he proved to the hot sauce elite, the faith he had in his own product. I won’t retell the details of the article as I recommend you read it yourself, but the rest of the story has you rooting for Larry as he achieves success.
This article about Larry Wu did the job it set out, to tell the story of an entrepreneur and his product. In doing so it instantly made me a fan of WuJu, without trying the sauce. My blog here is not about the quality of Larry’s hot sauce, as I haven’t tried it yet, and even if I had I wouldn’t comment on it here. I wanted to focus this piece on their marketing endeavor. To applaud Larry on his achievement and David Polinow on writing a story that persuaded me to become an advocate. I’ve got a favorite local burrito just waiting to pour WuJu all over it!