I recently got this email from a reader of Think Like a Rock Star that’s interested learning how to use social media to connect with her fans and market a ‘cool’ product.
“I loved your book and not only found it extremely helpful from an execution perspective of how to put an advocate program together, but your mentality and approach to social media was truly eye opening and has reignited my passion for my business and connecting with my fans.
While your book discussed selling the benefit rather than the product I feel that my customers buy my product for the “cool factor” which is a bit harder to put into words than say it makes a faster breakfast or cleans your clothes better. If I dig a bit deeper I have researched and seen that exclusivity and originality are essential in this area of fashion. If some one did it already fans aren’t afraid to point fingers.”
One of the things that the book also talks about is how to create content that taps into the ‘Bigger Idea’ behind your product. But if one of the big reasons why someone buys your product is because it’s ‘cool’, then how do you create content around ‘cool’?
Another way to think about having a ‘cool’ product is to have one that, as Kathy Sierra says, ‘inspires The Nod’. Your product is ‘cool’ to other people that get why it is cool. Your product says something about them as a person. Maybe that they’re smarter than the rest, or more selective, or maybe that they’ve been a fan of your brand for a longer period of time. Harley-Davidson is cool because the brand says something about the owner and their lifestyle that Victory motorcycles do not.
In the Introduction to Think Like a Rock Star I talk about how Jewel connected with her fans to empower them to organize the JewelStock concerts. Wearing a Jewel ‘Intuition’ t-shirt likely wouldn’t impress anyone, not even hardcore Jewel fans. But if an EDA sees you wearing a JewelStock tee, it would instantly grab their attention. Wearing the JewelStock tee communicates to other long-time Jewel fans that you were there in the beginning, and if you were seen wearing it by another long-time Jewel fan, they would likely run up to you ask ‘OMG were you there?’ Within that very small community, it communicates status, that you were part of a rare moment that helped launch Jewel’s career. But what if that same person passed by a girl that had a JewelStock sticker on her Bug?
They’d share The Nod. Because they’d both instantly have a bond that most Jewel fans don’t share.
So if you want to create content that taps into the ‘cool’ factor about your product, then you need to figure out what it is about your product that makes it cool? And you have to remember that the ‘what’ ties back to the person that bought the product, it says something about them.
For example, one of the other examples in the book is how Fiskars connected with scrapbookers to drive sales. Any pair of scissors can be used in scrapbooking, but an orange-handled pair of Fiskars scissors communicates that you are serious about your scrapbooking. That you take your projects more seriously and that perfection is important to you. Owning a pair of that particular brand in that particular color communicates something about you as a scrapbooker.
Now my friend’s email also mentioned looking to appeal to the brand’s fans and that they are interested in exclusivity and originality. Back to the Fiskars’ example. The orange-handled scissor is a ‘cool’ product to scrapbookers. But Fiskars has also created The Fiskateers movement that’s just for scrapbookers. If you want to join this movement, you have to be approved to join by the existing members. But if you are, you get your own numbered orange-handled scissor that’s only available to Fiskateers! The orange-handled scissor is already cool to members of the scrapbooking community, but the fact that it’s numbered also communicates that that person is a Fiskateer! Extra cool points!
So if you want to want to market a ‘cool’ product, focus on two areas:
1 – What makes the product cool and what does it say about the person owning it? Are they smarter? Concerned with the environment? Geekier? Bolder? More active?
2 – How will others be able to spot someone else that has your ‘cool’ product? This goes beyond the product itself, especially if it’s a clothing product. But if it’s not a clothing product, maybe a t-shirt or a sticker could work. Or, in the case of Fiskars, maybe its the same product (orange-handled scissors) with a special modification (numbered) that’s only available to a select group of customers (such as your biggest fans). Maybe this could be a special color of an existing shirt that’s only sold to your fans, or maybe your fans create the modification, and that’s added to the shirt, it becomes a ‘badge’ or ‘marker’ to other members of that community of fans.
And finally, go back to the qualities listed in the first step above. Think of those attributes (smarter, more active, bolder) as Superpowers. How is your product going to help your customers be smarter, more active or bolder? Red Bull gives you the fuel and energy you need to do bold and daring stunts and activities. Patagonia creates clothes that last longer, that also environmentally-friendly. Think about what it is that your customers find ‘cool’ about your product, then focus on how you can enable that coolness.