This doesn’t always work, but when it does… it’s magic.
Here are three examples, one of which you may have heard before, two of which I’ll bet are new to you.
I remember hearing that the glue on Post-It Notes was a mistake. The inventor was trying to make the world’s strongest glue, and instead made what might be the world’s weakest adhesive.
He could have thrown it out. But instead, some enterprising individual thought of a way to use it – notes that stick only as long as you want them to.
Hail Damaged Apples
I also heard a story about an apple farmer. This took place probably at least 50 years ago, if I remember correctly. He sold his great big, prized apples via mail order, and his customers LOVED his apples.
But one year, much of his crop was damaged by hail. The apples were still fine to eat, but they didn’t look as pretty as usual because of all the hail induced pockmarks.
What to do?
He could refund everyone’s money and not ship the apples. But then his mail order business would be ruined.
He could try to sell them at a discount – would anyone buy them? Probably not.
He was at a loss as to what to do.
Then he tasted one, and lo and behold, it was even sweeter than the unmarked apples.
He got an idea.
He would send the apples to his customers just as usual, except he would enclose a note explaining that these were rare apples indeed.
Here’s what he wrote: “Please note the pockmarks on some of these apples. This is proof that they are grown at a high mountain altitude, where the same extreme cold that causes sudden hailstorms also firms the flesh and increases the natural sugars, making the apples even sweeter.”
If the customers wished to return the hail sweetened apples for a full refund, they were most welcomed to do so.
Otherwise, he wished his customers to enjoy something they might experience only a few times in their life.
He shipped all the apples, and not a single box was returned.
In fact, for years afterward, he would get requests for the hail sweetened apples.
Today I was on Etsy when I found a bracelet that apparently doesn’t hold up very well.
In fact, it could break at any time.
And it’s not just one bracelet, either, but the entire lot of them.
Now let me ask you, my fellow marketer… How would you sell bracelets that are so fragile, they can break at any moment?
Here’s what the Etsy seller did…
S/he attached each one to a card that says,
“Close your eyes, make a wish
Then tie this bracelet on your wrist.
If your bracelet breaks in two
Then your wish may soon come true.
If by fate it splits in three
You will awake in 1743.”
Now that’s brilliant repositioning. Often, by being truthful about your product’s weaknesses or flaws, you can gain substantial credibility with your customers, increasing loyalty, sales and customer satisfaction.
To use this technique, pick one weakness of your product. Talk about it frankly in your marketing. Show why the weakness isn’t all that important, or how you designed your product to overcome, solve or compensate for the weakness.
Or simply use the weakness as a selling point, as these three examples show. It’s all a matter of how you position your product.
And adding a touch of humor doesn’t hurt, either. “You will awake in 1743?” Cripes. That’s not only humorous, but it makes you think, doesn’t it?