Let me begin with a story. After all, it’s Monday morning, we need to ease into the week don’t we? Yes I know we’re still in #lockdown but the wheels of commerce, or at least some of them, must turn…
So, this story begins sometime in the early 20th century in Michigan USA.
Schlitz are a brewery, based on the shores of Lake Michigan. Anyhow, they were going through hell. Sales were down, the graphs refused to bend upward, the bosses were pulling their hair out, nothing they did was making any difference to the bottom line.
Meanwhile, in another part of town, actually, another part of America, there was a guy called Claude Hopkins. Claude had made something of a name for himself as a copywriter.
Copywriting – Claude opined – was salesmanship in print.
And Claude was the main man. A proven copywriter who got results. So the guys at Schlitz took a roll of the dice and invited our man Claude down to Michigan.
Naturally, they showed Claude around on a guided tour of their brewery which they were very proud of. He was shown plate-glass rooms, beer dripping over pipes. Asking why they did this, Hopkins was told that those rooms were filled with filtered air, so the beer could be cooled without impurities.
Then he was shown huge expensive filters filled with white-wood pulp that provided a superior filtering process. The Schlitz guys then explained how they cleaned every pump and pipe twice a day to assure purity. Not only that…each bottle was sterilized not once or twice, but four times before being filled with beer.
Then they showed Claude the 4,000 foot deep artesian wells dug to provide the cleanest and purest water available, even though the brewery sat right on the shore of Lake Michigan. (Lake Michigan was still pretty healthy in those days so could have provided clean water, but still.)
Eventually, they led Claude into a laboratory and showed him the mother yeast cell that was a product of 1,200 experiments to bring out the robust flavor. He was informed that all the yeast used in making Schlitz beer was developed from that original yeast cell!
Claude was taken aback a little and exclaimed ‘My God, why don’t you tell people you do all this? This is impressive’
The Schlitz guys exchanged glances then looked back at Claude and replied ‘because all beer brewers do this Claude, more or less’
Yes said Claude patiently, but the first brewery to tell people about this process will gain a significant advantage! He went home and created ads that told that story, a story that any of their competitors could have told but didn’t.
Over the next 6 months Schlitz beer recovered and went straight to #1. Those sales charts went back up and Schlitz were very happy,once more.
What Claude Hopkins did was a prime example of pre-emptive advertising.
You gain pre-eminence by being the first to explain how you do what you do – in the case of Schlitz – brewing beer. Their competitors could have told that story but didn’t because like Schlitz, they thought it was too obvious and took their processes for granted.
Instead the other brewers and Schlitz -pre-Claude – kept trotting out the same old claims that they were the best, shouting louder and louder in a vain bid to be heard…
If only they had explained why they were the best…
They might have saved their own voices. Schlitz got smart and hired Claude to tell their story and how they did what they did.
The bottom line? Tell your story, be personable, let your potential clients begin to feel like they know you, then they might like and trust you.
You don’t have to shout above everyone else so you save your voice.
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