Differentiate your product with a memory

This is a guest post from Drew McLellan, CEO and Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

I’m on the road a lot so I’ve become a very efficient packer/traveler.

crestMy dopp bag is always pre-packed with everything I need. Including one of those little travel-sized toothpaste tubes.

I care that it’s toothpaste but I don’t really care what kind or what flavor. So every time I’m at Target, I just grab a few as I walk by their “travel sized section” and toss them in the closet for the next rounds of travel.

On a recent run into Chicago, I just grabbed the new toothpaste tube and started brushing. With the first swipe of my toothbrush, all of a sudden I was transported to my dentist’s chair. The toothpaste had that gritty sand sensation that up until this point I only experienced at the dentist’s office. I would have sworn that Dr. Todd’s dental hygienist was giving my teeth a good buffing.

I don’t normally pay any attention to the taste or texture of my toothpaste — but this time — it completely captured my attention. Simply because it triggered a vivid experience/memory.

We are so visually oriented today that sometimes I think we forget that we actually have five senses. And that the two that are tied most deeply to our memories and emotional triggers are smell and taste.

Here’s what happened in my brain as I brushed my teeth with the gritty toothpaste:

I found myself wondering if this toothpaste was better for my teeth because it felt more “official.” Even after i was done brushing, i was conscious of that gritty feeling in my mouth.

Now, I have no ability to judge toothpaste effectiveness. I told you, I am brand agnostic when it comes to my toothpaste. But the texture and the experiential connection I made to the gritty toothpaste suddenly gave me a tangible I could grasp and attach a value to.

Why am I telling you this fascinating tooth tale?

Because in a very commoditized product category, Crest found a way to not only differentiate themselves, but to also create the perception of being better.

If they can do that with something as mundane as toothpaste — surely you can do it with your product or service. What sense or experience could you tap into to create a different perception for your customers or prospects?

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About Drew McLellan

Wall Street Journal calls Drew McLellan’s blog, DrewsMarketingMinute.com, "one of the ten blogs every entrepreneur should read." His passion is helping clients discover their story so they can create authentic love affairs with their customers. He's also an author, national speaker, and has owned his own marketing agency in the Midwest since 1995.

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