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The S.E.C.R.E.T to Products That Sell Themselves

AND INCREASE YOUR LIKELIHOOD OF SUCCESS IN MARKET BY AT LEAST 42%

I had just been hired to turn around a 200-unit chain of photography studios as the VP of Marketing. Our CEO's mission: create an entertaining experience for our customers.

But the problem was this: the experience was anything but fun. Imagine you're a child, and a strange man (usually), dressed all in black stands behind a black apparatus and periodically walks over to you to contort you into pretzel-like positions. It wasn't entertaining, it was torture.


WHAT AD COPY COULD EVER PERSUADE ANYONE ...

they’d have fun in our stores? To make matters worse, we had no capital to make the stores more entertaining and insufficient time to change how 2000 photographers engaged with kids because insolvency was months away. I couldn't have the company go bankrupt because I had student debt and couldn't afford to be unemployed. I needed proof. Fast.

ALL BUSINESSES NEED "PROOF" OF THEIR BRAND PROMISE

Doug Hall, CEO of Eureka Ranch, an innovation lab, has had decades of experience perfecting a robust testing methodology to predict in-market success of innovations. I highly recommend his Merwyn Simulated Test Marketing. Doug says having indisputable proof of a brand's promise increases the odds of success of an innovation by 42%. At the Picture People, we, too, needed proof of our brand's promise -- an entertaining experience -- and we needed it fast. We needed more than just proof, we needed what I now call Power Proof.

WHAT DID WE DO?

We introduced oversized, unexpected, seasonal props for kids to play in: Santa sleighs, giant stockings, a jumbo Crayola Crayon box, or a Gulliver-sized Easter basket complete with chocolate bunny.





The props didn't just look fun; they WERE fun. Kids could be king of a crayon castle, pop out of an Easter basket to surprise Mom or take off in a red convertible on an imaginary freeway. We changed the mental model for the business from torture chamber to playground. Kids no longer posed; they played. We never had to convince customers they would have fun. We gave them indisputable proof, Power Proof, which also gave them a way to do our marketing for us.


ACCELERATING WORD OF MOUTH

We then accelerated word of mouth by introducing 3 different lines of photo greeting cards for every gift and card giving occasion, legitimizing the behavior moms most wanted to do: show off their kids.


OUTCOME

Same-store sales soared 58%, the company became profitable for the first time in 10 years, and we had a successful liquidity event for investors when we sold the business to Hallmark.





WHAT MAKES PROOF, POWER PROOF?

Some of the characteristics of Power Proof were described a decade later in Chip and Dan Heath's excellent book, "Made to Stick." In their book, the Heath brothers describe the characteristics of ideas that catch on, some of which also explained Power Proof: simplicity, concreteness, and unexpectedness. But there's more.





POWER PROOF YOUR BUSINESS. HERE'S THE S.E.C.R.E.T.


Surprising, unexpected, pattern-breaking

Easy to explain, simple

Credible proof of your brand promise/benefit

Repeatable, not a one-time stunt

Experiential, so it converts customers into co-creators who now have a story to tell

Tangible, concrete, you can form a mental image of it in your head


GUT CHECK

You know you might have Power Proof if you can imagine your customers describing your product/service saying, "They EVEN have," or "They EVEN do."


POWER PROOF YOUR BUSINESS

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