Better Marketing


Your Marketing Works Best When It’s Simple

A lesson from a boy selling ice cold “beer” on the street

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Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

If you saw a child holding a sign by the side of the road saying ‘Ice Cold Beer,’ alarm bells would start ringing in your head.

Why is this child selling beer?

Do his parents know he is selling beer by the side of the road?

Don’t children normally sell lemonade?

It’s a natural reaction to a situation we‘re unaccustomed to — and it’s exactly what happened the other day in Utah. People driving by a local church in Brigham City were confronted with young Seth Parker, offering beer.

Naturally, those who passed Seth were a little concerned and, after a few phone calls, the police arrived on the scene to see what was going on.

This is when things took an interesting twist.

Seth was indeed selling beer, but it turns out it wasn’t your regular stone-cold beer. No sir, he was selling root beer instead, which was non-alcoholic.

Seth had included the word “root” on his sign but in tiny letters. Driving past you would have never seen it!

Through this excellent marketing strategy, Seth drummed up solid business that day, selling out of his root beer, and creating headlines in news outlets across the United States.

His marketing strategy was beautifully simple and easy to deploy. He played on people’s love for beer, using it to his own advantage. Was it manipulative? Almost certainly, but most marketing is to an extent.

The real question is: what can we learn from Seth’s marketing strategy that we can apply to our own businesses?

Simplicity Works Best

There was no money behind Seth’s strategy. He had his stand, a sign, and that was it. His strategy was about as simple as it can be. He didn’t need it to be any more complicated.

The message was his kicker, the ace up his sleeve. Most of us driving by on a hot summer’s day would instantly notice this sign. Who doesn’t love a cold beer when the weather is roasting?

The advantage Seth had was that he was a child. The sign would have grabbed our attention, but seeing who was behind it, would cause us to do a double-take.

We’d be much more likely to stop and check out what’s going on when we see something that doesn’t tally with what we’re used to.

On getting closer, we would have seen “root” in small letters and instantly admired the young lad for his clever marketing trick, making a sale more likely. After all, who doesn’t admire a plucky kid like Seth trying to make a bit of money?

We can agonise for hours and hours over what marketing strategies to adopt, but sometimes the simplest methods work the best.

Look for an Angle

Business is tough. There is a lot of competition no matter what field you are in. Sticking out in a crowded market isn’t easy — you have to think of ways to get heard above the constant noise.

We are exposed to numerous marketing strategies every day — most of them we block out, we have become so accustomed to seeing them.

If I asked you to remember the last time an advert or a poster grabbed your attention, I suspect you’d struggle to remember when it was. I know I would!

To stand out you have to do something different — grab people’s attention; give them something they won’t forget in a hurry.

Apple’s famous 1984 commercial is one example:

The fact that it is still being referred to today, tells you all you need to know about how effective it was. The majority of adverts do not make anywhere near the impression that Apple’s did.

When it comes to marketing you have to think of ways that will make you stand out from the crowd. Ways that will make people remember your brand and want to buy your products.

Our attention spans are only getting shorter. To capture them, you have to do something unusual, that we are unaccustomed to seeing.

The Takeaway

We can learn a lot from Seth. Simplicity and intrigue were a key part of his strategy: they got the desired results and then some.

He didn’t intend to go viral, but he did. So much so, that I have written an article extolling the genius of his homemade beer sign!

If we can learn anything from Seth selling his root beer by the side of the road, it’s that we’re all open to manipulation. All it took was a cleverly designed sign to drive a ton of attention and business.

None of us likes to be manipulated, but when we’ve been cleverly tricked in a way that is not too deceitful, we tend to applaud the audacity of the person behind the trick.

Marketing is a form of manipulation in most cases. Just make sure you don’t stray too far and you might have the same success that Seth did too!

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