The element of surprise is the ultimate equalizer. Remember that? Here’s another clue, check it out…
I was reading 99 Percent’s interview with the founder of Slice Perfect, Miki Agrawal, an unorthodox pizzeria in NY. The interview is all about how he ‘surprised himself’ but the last question (about their marketing strategy) reveals an interesting answer:
It’s about being unorthodox, it’s about how you stand out. When you think about branding, you have to think about every touch point of a business. You can’t just change the ingredients because that’s not enough. You have to change the packaging, the marketing materials, the web experience. Everything has to change to create an impactful experience.
So we try to NOT look like a pizza place, but still have that familiar feeling. Our packaging is long, rectangular boxes; we serve the piece in four bite-sized pieces on a sushi plate. It’s a neat and clean, pristine experience; it’s not like you’re picking up this giant pizza slice. It slows down your eating. You’re not shoveling something into your mouth. You allow your stomach to catch up to your brain. It also promotes sharing. I can order a different pizza from you, and we can share.
So those are three differentiating elements: it’s neater and cleaner, it slows down eating, and it promotes sharing. So it’s a different experience.
Bingo! Meaningful difference is what I got from that answer. Anybody who hears that will ‘get it’ right away. What’s also awesome, is the way he puts it: We try NOT to look like a pizza place. That’s a good way to ‘surprise yourself’ and shatter expectations.
Want to do the same?
Here’s an exercise for you:
- Write ‘let’s try NOT to be like <insert your category here>’ on the biggest whiteboard in your office where everyone in your organization can see it.
- Next, let everyone know that you have a mission today to shake things up, tell them about how the message on the whiteboard will help you do that.
- Next, invite your peers to contribute ideas on all the possible ways you can be the opposite of your category. Some people will laugh, others may already have some ideas hidden somewhere in their brains. You can collect these ideas by email, on an internal wiki, internal blog or pieces of papers. What matters is that you do it.
- Once done, collect all these ideas and have a few people help you cluster them around ‘themes’ and put them where everyone can see.
- Next, it’s show time! Via votes (number of ‘likes’) decide which ideas are ‘meaningful’ and ‘doable’. It’s important that you get the list down to only a few things that really ‘make a difference’, this will be tricky but very important.
- Next, it’s time to action plan your ideas.
I know this is a fairly simplistic list, the intent is not to make it an activity so complex that people will lose interest. Remember, you’re asking people to get uncomfortable!